God has not forgotten them
About one third of Macedonians are from a Muslim background. This is a group of about 650,000 people out of a total population of just over two million. The principal Muslim ethnic groups are: Albanians (about 80%), the Romani near the capital and Turks in the eastern part of the country. Macedonia’s practicing Christian community is fairly small but it is growing well. However, the Albanian Muslims are almost completely unreached and have no church.
Macedonian call: “Come over and help us!”
In January 1991, a friend and I surveyed the world’s least evangelized Muslim people groups. We probed openings for the Gospel in these neglected corners of the Great Commission. Everywhere we went, we asked provocative questions: “What people group are you from?” followed by: “Aren’t your people a Christian people?” The latter question aimed at testing responsiveness. The response was always, “No! We are not Christian. We are Muslim!” We followed with a smile and a further naive question, “Why not? Why aren’t you Christian?” The answer heard again and again still rings in my ears, “You cannot change your mother.” Their response, though firm, was never hostile. For them, change was impossible. No doubt this was the first time they had heard this question. This was the plight of millions of Muslims throughout the Islamic world. For us, the Spirit changed their words into a Macedonian call: “Come over and help us!” (Acts 16:19)
Harvest Is Ripe
Two decades later, the times they are a’changin’, and so is the Muslim world. Across the Islamic world, we are seeing historic openness and response to the Gospel. Two decades ago we would have been hard pressed to find a single movement of 1,000 Muslims baptized into the Christian faith; today, there are more than two dozen such movements. From West Africa to Southeast Asia, God is reaping an unprecedented harvest in the House of Islam. Many of these movements are occurring in the most hostile corners of the earth.
Twenty Years On
In the spring of 2011, twenty years after my initial survey trip, I went back to see what had changed. This time interviewing dozens of former Muslims who had come to faith in Jesus Christ! It was an emotional experience, to hear these brothers and sisters share their story of how Christ had given them forgiveness and new life, and how the Spirit of Christ had sustained them through the persecution which accompanied their decision.
“Someone Told Me”
Perhaps the most striking discovery came when we asked the question, “What did God use to bring you to faith in Jesus Christ?” Prepared to hear any number of answers, we were surprised by the simple response from individual after individual: “Someone told me the Gospel.” Perhaps we missed it. The times were changing. But it was not Muslims who were changing, it was Christians. A new generation of Christians who were now gently, yet faithfully and boldly, sharing the life-giving message of the Gospel.
- Read Isaiah 52:10 and proclaim aloud the faithfulness of God. May his salvation come.
- Many Muslims do not practice Islam in a devoted manner. Others like the Romani (80,000 people) are especially involved in folk superstitions. Pray for God’s unexpected interventions (Exodus 3:1-6).
- Pray the Lord opens doors for witness and motivate Macedonian believers to reach out. Centuries of religious strife and prejudice between Muslims and Christians can only be overcome by the love of God manifest on the cross. Paul first preached the Gospel in Europe in Philippi in Greek Macedonia (Acts 16:9-40). God is able to cross all barriers! God sent Paul to Macedonia. He still sends people.
Listen to the Podcast – DAY 22 – Macedonian Muslims