Friday, April 3, 2009

Millions of converts in Middle East? Wishful thinking

Mission Network News reports about millions of converts to the Christian faith in the Middle East. MNN quotes Tom Doyle, with e3 Partners, who says that adversity can actually strengthen the church. "When you persecute the church, it flourishes. That's the exact opposite of what it should do."

According to Doyle, the renewed attacks against Christians in Iran are directly related to the growth. He says in 1979 at the time of the revolution, there were about 500 Christians. "Nobody is quite certain of the numbers, but we hear anything from over 1 million believers in Iran. Some say (there's) upwards of 2 million. But, we've been there, and we've worked with the underground church. And we know it's big and vast, and they are growing."

Doyle says that's one of the reasons he wrote his most-recent book. Breakthrough, The Return of Hope in the Middle East conveys the Good News coming out that region. Christians in this volatile part of the world want western Christians to know they are at work despite negative press. Doyle says, "They want (you) to know that the church is doing well and in many places, flourishing -- reaching Muslims and reaching Jews for Christ. Breakthrough introduces believers to the saints that are in the Middle East."

The book features stories from Israel, Syria, Iraq, Iran and other areas of the world where Islamic extremist violence is commonly reported.

Funding for ministries in the Muslim world is difficult to obtain. Doyle thinks he knows why: many Christians around the world "look at the Middle East, and they think it's hopeless. They don't realize that millions have come to the Lord. That's right -- 'millions' in the last few years because of Christian radio, TV, missionaries on the ground, and the Scriptures."

Doyle has gathered many of these stories from his work with E3 Partners. "We have workers on the ground, probably about 150 workers throughout the Middle East, who are national leaders involved in training, raising up the new generation, and discipling nationals so they can carry on the work."

May we humbly submit our view that the figures Mr Doyle gives are wholly unsubstantiated? He is right, many Muslims are turning to Christ in the Arab World and in Iran through satellite TV mainly, but how in the world can anyone know about 'millions'? I fear this is a case of wishful thinking.


Abu Daoud said...

I agree, these figures are totally inflated.

John Stringer said...

probably sells more books. or raises more money ;-)