The Advent Message to Moslems

Reaching Moslems may be the greatest problem confronting our denomination.

By T. J. MICHAEL, Secretary-Treasurer, Central European Division, Section II

Any of our missionaries are far better qualified to discuss this topic than I. But for many years I have been con­cerned regarding our work among Moslem people. I recognize this as being perhaps the greatest problem confronting our denomina­tion. I am deeply convinced that when Jesus gave the command for His gospel to be preached in all the world, He intended that Moslem lands and peoples should be included. True, we have worked among Moslems and in Moslem lands for many years. It does seem, however, that results from our work do not indicate any material approach toward a com­pleted task. And I have observed that the work in Moslem lands has not always been directed to or for Moslem people.

The line of least resistance has been fol­lowed in many cases. Although our mission­aries in Moslem countries have built up churches, these churches have too often con­sisted of converts from among Christian minorities. They are. not churches of con­verts from among Moslems. I have actually known missionaries who have worked for years in Moslem countries who have never preached a sermon to Moslems, nor indeed tried to direct any of their activities toward Moslem people.

I fully recognize that the task of doing evangelistic work among Moslems is a pe­culiarly difficult one. Other missions have conducted work among Moslems longer than we have, and with very little greater results than we can show. Self-sacrificing men and women have worn themselves out in doing educational, medical, and social uplift work in these lands. Their work is much appre­ciated by the authorities in some cases, and by the people themselves in many cases. But these activities, noble though they are, are not building up a strong Christian church from among Moslem peoples.

It will be said that Jesus used these methods—He taught and He healed. But He also preached. And what is more important, He commanded us to "Go . . . and preach." As a denomination, I believe we have been woefully negligent in the use of even these ac­cessory methods of work in Moslem countries. Medical and educational work have been neg­lected, and that in spite of the fact that God has given to this people a health message sec­ond to none, which God has designated as the "entering wedge." I believe that the task lying ahead of us would be easier of accom­plishment had we, through the years, done more educational and medical work in Mos­lem lands.

But God has never indicated that the com­mand to teach and to heal is to displace His very explicit command to us to "preach the gospel." I recognize that to attempt to openly preach the advent message to Moslems is fraught with many difficulties, and possibly dangers. Some incidents could be cited which emphasize the dangers involved. We face, in some instances, antagonistic governments, or at least government officers. We face dis­interest, and sometimes fanatical opposition. Truly the task is difficult and most perplex­ing. But the gospel has lost none of its power.

When the apostles went forth from Jeru­salem to "preach the gospel," they were con­fronted with conditions which were, in many respects, similar to those which evangelists in Moslem lands face now. They had to face the wrath of antagonistic governments, com­plete indifference on the part of some people, and fanatical opposition on the part of others. Some of the apostles became martyrs for the gospel they preached. History and tradition indicate that four of them were crucified, one was beheaded, one "flayed to death," and others were tortured and killed in various ways. Paul's experiences, as listed in 2 Corinthians 

ii vould seem to indicate that the preacher of the advent message in Moslem lands need expect no more difficult experiences than were encountered by the apostles and early missionaries.

But it was under those very conditions of per­secutions and great hardships that the church grew and prospered. The messengers of the cross "went forth, and preached everywhere," and marvelous were the results                          Is it too much to believe that if the advent message is preached with the same fervor, accompanied by the Holy Spirit, we can expect even greater results than were seen in those days?

Church history thrills us with the record of many throughout the Dark Ages who counted not their lives dear, that they, like Paul, might finish their course with joy, "to testify the gospel of the grace of God." They continued preaching the gospel in the face of dangers and a bitterness of persecution that are difficult adequately to apprehend.

By reviewing the history of modern mis­sions, we see that our own missionaries and native workers in some Catholic lands have faced death, and have suffered as did the mis­sionaries of the early Christian church and of the Dark Ages. But fearlessly, with a courage born of the realization that this gos­pel of the kingdom must be preached, they preached this message, and thousands of bit­ter enemies of the truth have been won into the remnant church. Can it be that what is needed to win large numbers of Moslems into the remnant church is more preaching—more fearless, courageous, evangelistic preaching of the message which contains "the blessed hope," even for the inhabitants of those lands? Can it be that the messengers heralding the Lord's soon return need to be more "reckless for Christ"?

The Foreign Missions Conference of North America has recently formed a committee whose duties shall be to specialize in promot­ing the interests of work for Moslems. I had the privilege of meeting with this com­mittee a few weeks ago. Men and women were present who had given the best years of their lives to Moslem work. Several de­nominations were represented, and among the delegates were some who are recognized throughout the world as experts on things pertaining to Christian endeavor among Mos­lem peoples. They very freely admitted that they felt that they were representing the most perplexing problem which faces the Chris­tian church today. Some of them admitted that, in a large measure, Christianity has failed in its approach to Moslems. They con­fessed that the results which had hitherto been attained were such as to justify the Christian church in being ashamed.

On the part of some, there was manifest the hesitancy and the fear which seem to grow upon workers who labor in those diffi­cult fields. One man who had labored for many years in a Moslem country declined to write an article for a certain magazine, be­cause he feared the consequences if that article should be read in the country in which he worked! I was impressed most of all, however, with a remark made by one whose name is almost a household word among those interested in work for Moslems. He said, in effect:

"I believe the time has come when we should simply, but fearlessly, preach the gospel to the Mos­lems. We have spent too much time on accessory methods, and woefully too little on what we have been commanded to do."

At a council of Seventh-day Adventist workers in Egypt last year one of the mission­aries made this statement: "Where all other missions have failed (in their work for Mos­lems), He is now ordering His people to the front." I believe this missionary hit the nail on the head. All missions, on their own ad­mission, have failed to measure up to the great commission given by Christ to "preach the gospel." We, too, have followed their ex­ample, and I believe that God is now calling upon Seventh-day Adventist missionaries in Moslem lands to demonstrate to the world that "this gospel of the kingdom" is indeed "the power of God unto salvation" to large numbers of those who now are devoted fol­lowers of the prophet Mohammed.

As I contemplate this great problem with which God's people must wrestle and which we must solve before the coming of Jesus, I am greatly comforted by the prophecy of Isaiah 60. The Lord promises a time when "the forces of the Gentiles shall come unto thee." The word "forces" suggests a large number. And verses 6 and 7 very definitely justify us in believing that multitudes "shall come to thy light" from among those who dwell in the lands of the camel.

In 1 Corinthians 1 :20 Paul significantly asks, "Where is the wise? where is the scribe? where is the disputer of this world?" In connection with work for Moslems there has been much manifesting of wisdom, much learned writing on the problems and perplex­ities of the work, and more disputing, possi­bly, than anywhere else in the world. In fact, many have felt that only by conducting successful public disputes with Moslems could their hearts be reached and won to Christ. But Paul goes on to say, "We preach Christ crucified." And in verse 21 he claims that God has resolved to save souls by the "sheer folly" of preaching. Would to God that there might be manifested by God's servants in Moslem lands more of this "sheer folly" of preaching! It does appear as folly to many. But since we have not solved the problem by any other method, shall we not give God's method a chance? We do not attempt to deny the difficulties, nor even the dangers. They do exist in a very real way. But listen to these encouraging words:

"When in faith we take hold of His strength, He will change, wonderfully change, the most hopeless, discouraging outlook. He will do this for the glory of His name."—"Testimonies," Vol. VIII, p. 12.

"Nothing can stand in His way. His power is absolute, and it is the pledge of the sure fulfillment of His promises to His people. He can remove all obstructions to the advancement of His work. He has means for the removal of every difficulty."—Id.. p. 10

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By T. J. MICHAEL, Secretary-Treasurer, Central European Division, Section II

June 1940

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