To the worker, that new mindset represents an answer to prayer — and a window of opportunity.
“We [U.S. Christians] often want to back off because it is working with Muslims,” he says. “We want to back off because these are difficult areas to go to. And yet right now the opportunity is so great. We’ve never seen an opportunity like this. Across Northern Africa and the Middle East, we’ve seen a sweeping of these revolutions where we have been able to go in and do things now that we’ve never been able to do. We’ve been able to pass out materials door to door. We’re able now to go into communities and have a clinic when before the government said we couldn’t do that.
“It is a window of opportunity that could close so quickly. We need to walk alongside our partners and help them so that if and when we have to leave, we have partners on the ground who can pick up the baton and continue on. This is an opportunity that we weren’t expecting, and yet we should have been. We have been praying for revival in the ‘10/40 Window’ [region containing most of the globe’s unreached peoples]. God has opened up the window. This may not have been the response we were thinking of in that prayer, but right now we have the opportunity and we need to respond to it.”
Conditions for Christians in the region are difficult and may get worse, he acknowledges. Some believers are leaving for friendlier, safer nations. Those who remain are facing new challenges and uncertainties or the return of pressure and persecution. Many fear what may happen if Islamists consolidate political power. Yet churches are stepping forward to minister and proclaim the Gospel in ways he has never before witnessed.
“It is critical that we know that God is at work, that this is His,” the worker says. “He raises up rulers and kings and He takes them down. This is not happening in a vacuum. If it doesn’t go the way we think it should, that doesn’t mean God has stepped away from it. We need to stay with it. It’s going to get hard for believers in some of these churches. We need to be praying specifically for these countries and these peoples daily. God sent his Son to die for these people and we cannot lose the eternal big picture. We just have to see what door He is going to open because of this, and then walk through it.”