Christian Inroad into Muslim Nations

North Africa



Dr. John Hoole – June 21, 2015




Charles Sennott was the Middle East bureau chief for the Boston Globe until 2001.  Near the end of 2002, he published a book titled: "The Body and the Blood - the Middle East's Vanishing Christians..."  He purported to document the "dramatically diminishing Christian presence" in the region.  In his book, he asked the question:  "Is Christianity truly going to die out in the land where it began?"  Sennott spoke about the potentially imminent death of Christianity, and this was echoed in most of the worldwide media.  A Newsweek headline declared: "New Exodus: Christians Flee ISIS in Middle East."  The BBC proclaimed, "Christians Quit Christ's Birthplace."  A Denver Post article stated that in 50 years "Christianity may be extinct" in the Middle East.  The Toronto Sun suggested that "a time might come, unless the political situation dramatically improved, when Christian communities of the Middle East no longer exist."


There is just one problem with such stories.  They are not quite accurate - at least, not now.  I don't think it was ever accurate in the last 30 years.  God is doing something amazing in the Middle East - especially in Muslim countries.  Over the past few weeks, our primary focus was on what God was doing in Iran.  Today, I am taking you to north Africa


The Spirit of God is moving in a powerful way – in ways that we think is unprecedented.  Hundreds of thousands – even millions – in Africa are turning their lives over to Jesus Christ.  Former sheikhs and imams, who followed Islam their entire lives, men who bombed Christian churches and mercilessly persecuted the followers of Christ, are finding the truth of eternal life through Jesus Christ.  And the number increases every day.


Many of these Muslim people come to God’s Word by dramatic means – through dreams and visions.  Others are coming because of seeing miracles and healings.  Bands of hardened rebels are voluntarily laying down their arms, and thousands are seeing the power of God’s Spirit in their lives.


Over the past 9 years, the change among African Muslim peoples has resulted in the following:


•  More than six thousand new churches have been planted among18 different countries.


•  Hundreds – yes, hundreds – of former sheikhs and imams are now boldly leading many Muslims out of Islam.


•  Forty-five different “unreached” Muslim-majority people groups, who a few years ago had no access to God’s Word, now have more than 3,000 new churches among them.


What is happening is a phenomenal miracle, and I believe we will see literally millions of Muslims come to Christ.  God is working one of the most awesome moves that has ever taken place.  God is raising up a standard against the spirit of Islam.


Islamic Cleric reaction


Let me review just a couple of thoughts from our first lesson.  While we may not hear much in our news services about conversion of Muslims to Christianity, it has not gone unnoticed by Islamic officials.  And their concerns are being made in public.


Saudi sheikh, Salman Al-Odeh preached a sermon entitled “Christian Missionaries Sweeping the Islamic World.”  Sheikh Ahmad Al Qataani, another significant Saudi cleric, appeared in a live interview on al Jazeera satellite television.  He called it “a tragedy” that so many thousands, even millions, of Muslims are converting to Christianity.


In April 2004, an Iranian Shiite cleric by the name of Hasan Mohammadi delivered a stunning speech at the high school in Tehran.  He urged the students to “safeguard your beloved Shi’ite faith” against the influence of the evangelicals and other so-called apostate religions.  He went on to warn: “Unfortunately, on average every day, fifty Iranian girls and boys convert secretly to Christian denominations in our country.”




I have visited Egypt and have found it a very fascinating place.  I have seen the historical monument of the great days of their past glories.  Before the uprising in 2011, millions of tourists every year visited Egypt to see the days of her greatness.  I have visited the Sphinx nearby the pyramids of Giza and have visited the Valley of the Kings.  I have walked through the enormous structures in Luxor and Karnak.  They speak of an era long past when Egypt was greater than most kingdoms.  But, today that greatness is but a glimmer of its past glory.


The Bible has much to say about Egypt, not only of her past history, but also of her in End Time prophecy.  Next to Israel, Egypt is probably the most mentioned country in the Bible.  Although the Israelites are the chosen people of God, the truth remains that God loves people in every nation.  And that includes the people of Egypt.


As a Christian, I am interested in what happens in Egypt.  On a personal note, I have made friends with the owner of the Dairy Queen on Kent East Hill.  George is a Coptic Christian.  The Copts are mostly native to Egypt.  They are probably the largest Christian community in the Middle East.  They make up 10% of the population in Egypt – some ten to twelve million, with another 3-4 million Egyptians making up other Christian organizations.  A growing number of these are Muslim converts.


Let me take you to a church known as the “garbage church.”  Some of the information I have on this church is recorded in Joel Rosenberg’s book, “Inside the Revolution.”  The photos I have of the church I found on the internet.


To get to the “garbage church,” you must first drive through a “city” of badly built brick and cement apartment buildings teeming with an estimated fifteen to thirty thousand “garbage people.”  Everywhere you look, as you drive through, you will see people picking through it, sorting it, re-bagging it, looking for objects of some value.


But then you come through it to the other side, to a paved parking lot in the shadow of a huge cliff.  Carved into the cliffs are the most amazing scenes of Jesus walking on water, Jesus on the cross, Jesus ascending to heaven, and so forth, each with a Bible verse inscribed below it in Arabic and English, all done by a Polish artist.  Inside the six caves are six chapels, the largest of which holds 20,000 people.


The church was planted in 1978 by a Coptic pastor with a burden for reaching people many consider the dregs of society.  His simple message was that each person could be adopted by the King of kings.  So many became Christians in the years that followed that in 1992 they had to convert the largest cave into a worship amphitheater.  Services are held on Thursday nights (the most popular service), Friday morning, and Sunday evenings.


In October of 2012, more than 20,000 Arab believers gathered for a day of prayer for their unsaved Muslim friends to become followers of Jesus Christ.  The event was broadcast throughout the Middle East on a Christian satellite TV network, allowing for millions more to see God powerfully at work.


While God has used dreams and visions to speak to Muslims, God has also used other supernatural encounters to draw them to Jesus.  One Egyptian Muslim was reading the Injil (the Gospels).  He was reading Luke 3, where the Holy Spirit descended upon Jesus in the form of a dove, and the Father saying “this is my Son in whom I am well pleased.”  As he read those words a stormy wind broke into his room.  A voice spoke to him, saying, “I am Jesus Christ, whom you hate.  I am the Lord whom you are looking for.”  He broke down and wept, and accepted Christ into his life.


You may remember when Hosni Mubarak, Egypt’s president, when he was forced out of office by popular unrest in February 2011.  His government was replaced by the Muslim Brotherhood, who selected Mohamed Morsi to run for and win election in 2012.  In 2013, Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood were replaced by the Egyptian military, and General Abdel Fattah el-Sisi became Egypt’s president.


When the Egyptian military replaced Mohamed Morsi, the Muslim Brotherhood blamed the Christians, and turned their hatred against them.  More than 85 churches and Christian institutions across Egypt were destroyed and burned.  The fact that these Christians – mostly Coptic Christians – did not retaliate was both unexpected and unprecedented.  They took paint to the burned shells of the buildings writing the words, “We forgive you.”  Forgiveness, it seems, changes everything.  Egyptians are now openly questioning everything, including their faith, expressing doubts aloud the religions they had all their lives.  To doubt is not rare, said Patrick Stein, a Christian worker in Egypt, but to openly challenge beliefs is almost unheard of.  They are hungry for the truth in a way that was not present before the revolution.


As mentioned earlier, I have had the privilege to take a trip through Egypt.  One of the places we visited in Cairo was the Khan el-Khalili bazaar.  If you were not careful, with all the people that are there during daylight hours, it would be possible to lose your directions.  Unlike the Grand Bazaar in Istanbul, the Khan el-Khalili is not completely under cover.


Let me tell you a story that begins in this place (though not when we were there).  Kamal Assam was in the marketplace one Friday.  While roaming through the aisles of shops, he hears a lady scream, “You’re the one!”  Probably many people turned to see who this woman was speaking to, Kamal also turned to see the woman pointing at him, saying, “Yes, you.”


His eyes fixed on the black hijab walking toward him.  His instincts begged him to ignore the culturally dangerous situation.  If the woman’s husband were anywhere near and saw her approach, she, and likely Kamal, would pay a steep price for this outburst.  This was not allowed within the culture.  Kamal could not fathom why an observant Muslim woman would choose today to potentially ruin his life.  That is, except Kamal felt that the Lord had spoken to him to go to the marketplace.  And this may be the reason.


When the woman got to within a distance that no longer required yelling, she said, “You were in my dream last night.”  “You were wearing the same clothes,” she added.  Kamal instantly recognized why this person had so passionately invaded his life.  “Was I with Jesus?” he asked.


“Yes,” the woman cried.  “Jesus was with us!”  What had begun as a non-typical visit for him to the Friday Market had just taken an even more uncanny and exciting turn.  That morning while reading his Bible, Kamal felt a compelling urge to leave the house where he was staying and venture to the Market.  Whether you wanted a kitchen utensil, spices, or a pair of Nike knockoffs, most anything – legal and otherwise – is sold there.


Kamal left home with 100% certainty that God had an assignment waiting for him there.  The details of the mission were a mystery to him, but he was used to trusting God for the unknown.  He felt himself being crushed and battered by the crowd while he wandered and waited.  But then Noor, a committed Muslim mother of eight, spotted him in the Khan.


Noor told Kamal details of the vivid dream she had the night before.  “Jesus walked with me alongside a lake, and He told me how much he loved me.  I’ve never felt so much peace in my heart.  I didn’t want to leave.  I asked Jesus, ‘Why are You visiting me, a poor Muslim mother with eight children?’  And all He said was, ‘I love you, Noor.  I have given everything for you.  I died for you.’  And as He turned to leave, the last thing Jesus said was, ‘Ask My friend tomorrow about Me.  He will tell you all you need in order to understand why I’ve visited you.’  ‘But, Jesus, who is Your friend?’”  “Here is my friend.” Jesus pointed behind us.  “He has been walking with us the whole time we’ve been together.”


The two leave the market and sit down beneath a lone tree.  “Noor, my name is Kamal, and I’m a Jesus follower.  I have loved Him with an undivided heart for ten years Noor and am honored to have been in your dream.  Jesus is touching the hearts of Muslims all over the world.  He is calling them to salvation – real salvation – one at a time, by visiting them in dreams and visions.”  He pauses, then asks, “Is this the first dream about Jesus?”


Kamal spoke slowly.  “He is calling you, Noor.  He doesn’t make random visits.  Your dream has a purpose that will transform you on the inside.”


Three hours later, Noor sat up straight.  The resolve  rose in her voice. “I’m ready now, I want to follow Jesus.”  Kamal surprised himself with the question, “Are you willing to be persecuted for Jesus?”  Kamal’s next question was even more unexpected.  “Are you willing to die for Him?”  Noor’s dream opened the door to her heart and mind and prepared her in this startling way to receive salvation.




In Algeria, the birthplace of Augustine, one of the early Church fathers, which, for many centuries was almost devoid of a Christian presence, we now find more than 80,000 former Muslims who have become followers of Christ.  The vast majority of these are young people under the age of thirty.


The surge of Christianity in Algeria has alarmed officials.  In 2008, Algeria put into full effect a new anti-conversion law that prohibited efforts to convert Muslims to another religion and gave the government the right to regulate every aspect of Christian practice.  This law was a direct attack against Christians since almost all Algerian Christians are converts from Islam.


Christians trying to share their faith with Muslims face 2 to 5 years in jail and fines of 5,000 – 10,000 Euros.  The law also forbids Christians from meeting together in any building without a license from the government.  We need to pray for our brothers and sisters in these countries.


Proselytizing Muslims is against the law in Algeria.  Regardless, one evangelist – a former Muslim – travels on trains playing a guitar, singing Christian songs and telling passengers about Christ.  He has a captive audience on the ride that lasts between 5 and 6 hours.


Despite this new 2008 law, 2009 was an incredible year for evangelical church growth, says Pastor Youssef Jacob with Operation Mobilization.  “We have churches that have grown by more than 800%.”  Many converts have come from Islam with no Christian heritage, no Christian background, having no resources whatsoever, no training.  But they simply believe in God and His word.


According to some experts, the northern area – called Grand Kabyle region – has become a fertile field for evangelization by Western Christians.  The U.S. Bureau of Democracy and Human Rights of the Department of State estimates that the number of non-Muslims in Algeria has reached 500,000.  They attend 300 churches, most of which are in the Kabyle region.


Let me tell you of an interesting twist on God’s use of dreams and visions.  One Algerian woman was awakened by her grandmother talking in her sleep.  She heard her Muslim grandmother say, “Jesus is not dead.  I want to tell you He is here.”


Morocco (West of Algeria)


Officials in Morocco are up in arms about the “phenomenon of Moroccans converting to Christianity.”  Their own officials estimate that between 25,000 and 40,000 Muslims have converted in just the last decade.     The Morocco Times ran an article on January 24, 2006, entitled, “Why are Moroccans Converting to Christianity.”


Local pastors and ministry leaders readily acknowledge that God is on the move in their country.  The interesting thing is that many of these Christian leaders were actually “hajjis” before they became Christians.  That means they were once such devout Muslims that they made the pilgrimage to Mecca, known as HAJJ to worship Allah before turning to Christ.  Now they are evangelists, disciple makers, and church planters who are overflowing with exciting stories of how Moroccans are coming to Christ.


A young Muslim woman from Morocco was working for a while in Europe.  While there, she saw the JESUS film and became a follower of Jesus Christ.  After two years of being discipled in the faith by an older believer, she went home on vacation to visit her family in Morocco.  For five days she prayed about how to tell her family that she had become a Christian.  But she was too scared – her father was a very devout Muslim.  On the sixth day, her sister also returned home from Europe.  “Hey, look what I got free!” the sister said to her family, showing them a copy of the Injil (New Testament) and the JESUS film.  She said a Christian gave it to her as a gift on the ferry ride across the Mediterranean.


The Father looked at the video and said, “Hey, look, the film is about Isa!  Let’s watch it.”  ISA is Jesus in Arabic.  The first sister was in shock.


The family sat down together in front of the television.  About half-way through the film, the whole family was asking one question after another, trying to understand who Jesus was, why He taught the way He did, and how He could do miracles and show such love and compassion to his enemies.


The first sister saw her opening.  She started answering their questions.  But now it was her family who were in shock.  “Why do you know all these things?” asked her father.  “Because I saw this movie two years ago and I became a Christian, but I have been afraid to tell you.”  A cloud covered her father’s face.  He looked angry, but when he spoke, he did not yell at his daughter.  Instead, he said, “What!  You made us wait five days to hear about Jesus?”




In Sudan, one of the biggest stories in modern Christendom is unfolding.  A spiritual awakening of almost unimaginable proportions amid civil war, radical Islam and persecution.  Some 300,000 Sudanese have been killed in recent years in Darfur alone.  More than 2.5 million Sudanese have been displaced by all the fighting.  Yet the God of the Bible is moving powerfully there to draw these dear people into His family.


South Sudan is largely a Christian population, while the north is Sunni Muslim.  In January 2011, a referendum was voted on which allowed South Sudan to secede from Sudan.  Their independence was granted July 9, 2011.


Over 1½ million Sudanese have turned to Christ just since the year 2000.  One Sudanese Christian leader said, “People are seeing what radical Islam is like, and they want Jesus instead.”  It is now estimated that there are 5.5 million believers in Sudan.  They cry now is for more trained pastors.