in this issue 01 October 1999, Vol. 3 No. 5
- People Profile
- Agency Profile
- Resource Reviews
- News and Needs
- Web Site Review
A Brief History of Muslim Civilization570 - 632 A.D.
by Bruce Sidebotham
Mohammed was born in 570 in Mecca. Mecca was a staging town for camel caravans in Arabia. In 610 he began receiving and promoting revelations. In 622 he fled to Medina from Mecca. This is called the Higra. This year begins the Muslim calendar.
In 630 he returned to Mecca and conquered it. When Mohammed died in 632, his teachings had spread throughout Arabia. His followers consolidated his teachings in the Qu'ran and embarked on a holy war, Jihad, to spread Islam.
632 - 732 A.D.
For one hundred years Islam spread rapidly by conquest. Political domination was achieved in Syria, Mesopotamia, Persia, Palestine, Egypt, North Africa, and the Iberian Peninsula. Major centers of cultural Christianity like Antioch, Alexandria, Jerusalem, and Carthage fell.
The rival Byzantine and Persian Empires rapidly gave way having been exhausted by fighting against each other. Europe's poorly civilized tribes were in their Dark Ages. As centers of Christian faith and learning, only Rome and Constantinople remained.
732 - 1250 A.D.
Charles Martel, general of the Franks, stopped the Muslim advance at Tours, France. Thus began a time of stagnation in the Muslim empire with much internal dissension. Many sultanates broke away from the central rule of the Abbassid Caliphate. Political power bounced from Arabia to Egypt, Bagdad, Persia, and eventually Turkey.
In the East the Mongols spread destruction among Islamicized areas in Central Asia, although eventually they were converted to Islam. From the west the Muslims began battling the Crusaders when the Turks rose to power in Asia Minor and began interfering with Christian pilgrimages to the "Holy Land."
1250 - 1700 A.D.
The Turks rose to supremacy, building the Ottoman Empire, dominating the Muslim world and enlarging it. Crusader Antioch fell in 1268. The last Crusader stronghold at Acre, Syria fell in 1291. The Eastern Roman Empire was destroyed with the fall of Constantinople in 1453. Islam became rooted in the Balkans, setting the stage for World War One and the Balkan crisis today.
Turks threatened the European civilization of the Holy Roman Empire but were stopped at Vienna in 1683. In 1492, on their western extremity, the Muslim Moors were finally defeated in the Iberian Peninsula, setting the stage for growth of the Spanish, Portuguese and other rival Western European empires.
1700 A.D. - Present
The bureaucratic and corrupt Ottoman Empire went into decline. Imperialistic Western powers came to rule almost the entire Muslim world. In 1923, under Ataturk, even Turkey had to give up the ideal of the Islamic state in order to compete with the European powers. The "Christian" West still controls political boundaries between independent Muslim countries.
Western dominance helps insure Muslim disunity, instability, and relative weakness. Wealth from oil, booming populations, and intense resentment are fueling the missionary and political activity of Muslim fundamentalism. Entrenched feelings of inferiority and instability are creating unprecedented opportunities for the gospel.
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The Turk of TurkeyHistory
a Bethany World Prayer Center Prayer Profile
The Turk originated in Turan, a region that lies between the Caspian Sea and the Mongolian Desert. They arrived in Turkey (Asia Minor) in the eleventh century as conquering warriors. By the year 1299, the Ottoman Dynasty began ruling over what would soon become a vast empire. Over twenty states fell under the Ottoman rule, including Southern Russia, Iran, Iraq, Syria, Egypt, Libya, and Saudi Arabia. This huge empire lasted until Turkey became a republic in 1923.
Turkey is considered to be a "link" between the Orient (Chinese and Mongols) and the Occidental (Anglo-Saxons, Slavs, Goths, and Latins). The Turk, therefore, have a knowledge and mixture of both Eastern and Western cultures.
Most of the Turk in Turkey have dark hair and brown eyes, but there is no distinctive physical type because of intermarriage with the surrounding peoples. In fact, some have blond or red hair and blue eyes.
Some are doctors, lawyers, architects, or engineers. However, the majority are peasants, living in villages and using natural resources to earn a living. Some of the peasants live as nomads, moving their sheep from place to place in search of greener pastures and dwelling in tents or huts.
For many, the clothes they work in, their homemade tools, and their livestock are their only possessions. However, those who specialize in export crops or combine farming with a seasonal job may become quite wealthy and even donate money to charities. The peasants that are located along the lush coastal plains or the low foothills by the seas usually live comfortable lives as farmers. However, those that live among the salt marshes lead more difficult lives.
The men work outside while the women spin yarn, dry fruits and vegetables for winter, prepare meals for their families, care for the children, and do the household chores. They also sometimes help with the men's work. Children help their parents with the outside duties if no school is located in their community. They may ride in ox-drawn grain carts or help make colorful knots in rugs.
Their diet consists of a heavy bread, olives, cheese from sheep or buffalo milk, onions, molasses from grapes, fresh fruits, vegetables, and nuts. Meats such as fish, wild game, or poultry are only eaten once a week. Wealthier peasants may also eat lamb and beef, but Islam prohibits them from eating pork.
Village social life includes picnics, barbecues, and betting on horse races, cock fights, or wrestling matches. Soccer is Turkey's most popular sport. Children enjoy games such as hide-and-seek and follow-the-leader. They also love to hear fairy tales.
Relaxation is important. Coffee houses are places where men meet to visit and talk politics or business. In general, the Turk are courteous, gentle people who readily show hospitality to strangers. They are also very patriotic and have a deep love for their country.
The Turk of Turkey are predominantly Muslim, believing in one god (Allah), and an eternal heaven and hell. However, they also have many ethnic beliefs and superstitions as well. For example, they believe that men have the power to curse others by giving them the "evil eye."
They believe that one is protected against such a curse by wearing blue beads. Another way to overcome this evil glare is to spit in a fire and pray to Allah. Another folk belief is that if a woman puts fish oil around a door and a man walks through it, he will love her for the rest of his life.
Mission Agencies in Turkey
Agency Internet Telephone Mission to Unreached Peoples www.mup.org 1-888-847-6950 Campus Crusade for Christ International www.ccci.org 1-407-826-2000 Turkish World Outreach 1-970-434-1942 Frontiers www.frontiers.org 1-800-462-8436 Pioneers www.pioneers.org 1-800-755-7284 Christian Aid Mission www.christianaid.org 1-800-977-5650 Mission to the World www.mtw.org 1-404-320-3373 TransWorld Radio www.twr.org 1-800-457-7897 IBRA Radio (Sweden) www.ibra.org
Relief Agencies Helping in Turkey
Agency Internet Telephone World Relief www.wr.org 1-800-535-5433 Mercy Corps www.mercycorps.org 1-800-852-2100 Church World Service www.churchworldservice.org 1-800-297-1516 Catholic Relief Services www.catholicrelief.org 1-800-736-3467 Food For The Hungry www.fh.org 1-800-248-6437 Lutheran World Relief www.lwr.org 1-800-597-5972 Samaritan's Purse www.samaritan.org 1-828-262-1980 MAP International www.map.org 1-800-225-8550 World Vision www.worldvision.org 1-888-511-6565 Presbyterian Disaster Asistance http://pda.pcusa.org 1-800-872-3283 Adventist Development and Relief Agency www.adra.org 1-800-424-2372 Evangelical Free Church Compassion Ministries www.efcm.org 1-888-592-6776
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ACCTS Equips and Mobilizes Foreign Military ChristiansGod has been using the Association of Christian Conferences Training and Services (ACCTS) to develop Christian leaders in the armed forces of the world and to establish and develop military Christian fellowships.
ACCTS serves as the coordinating agency for the Association of Military Christian Fellowships (AMCF). When ACCTS was founded in 1972, only twelve countries had active military Christian fellowships. Today there are more than sixty, and ACCTS is working to establish similar organizations in at least forty more countries.
ACCTS plans, facilitates, and subsidizes many global, regional, and national conferences for military Christians. Sometimes these conferences are designed to meet specific needs such as those of military Chaplains in Africa or of Christian leaders in the Ukraine.
ACCTS coordinates and conducts teaching around the world on a variety of subjects such as the lordship of Jesus Christ and the application of Christian ethics in the military profession.
ACCTS also trains interns from foreign militaries on organizing and operating professional associations for military Christians.
Finally, ACCTS collects and disseminates information on reaching military men and women with the gospel, and is participating in the Naaman Initiative (see back page). ACCTS publishes a bimonthly newsletter, a monthly prayer reminder, and literature for Christian education.
Consider how God can use you to help.
P.O. Box 27239, Denver, CO 80227
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You Can Influence the KhansOne strategy for reaching leadership in Mongolia with the gospel is through a Military Christian Fellowship.
by Floyd Sebald
Campus Crusade for Christ, which entered the country in 1991, is partnering with the Association of Military Christian Fellowships to bring the light of Christ to military leaders.
Men such as U.S. Ret. Col. Don Snow, U.S. Gen. Fister, Korean Generals Park and Lee, and others have come on short-term projects to contact upper level military leadership. They have found them receptive to friendship, leadership expertise, and the gospel.
Through these significant contacts a fellowship of military leaders is being established. The present need is for a retired military officer and his wife to commit a year or two to befriending and discipling military leaders in Mongolia towards developing the Mongolian MCF.
This project would be by invitation of Mongolia Campus Crusade for Christ, which is a registered organization with the Mongolian government, and in partnership with the Association of Christian Military Fellowships. It would require that the officer be self-supporting or raise support.
Please don't let the fund-raising limit your consideration. God has faithfully provided for every aspect of the work in Mongolia. Plus, if you so chose, your military pension could easily cover on-going living expenses in this developing country, so you would need to raise only travel and ministry expenses.
If you are interested in trusting the Lord to make you part of this unique point in the history of the Kingdom of God, please contact ACCTS which is featured on page 6.
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Follow Ramadan Prayers for MuslimsCoinciding with the annual Islamic fasting month of Ramadan, the thirty days Muslim Prayer Focus is an international movement calling Christians everywhere to learn about Islam and to pray for Muslims, so that they may come to know God's grace as revealed in Jesus Christ.
The initiative begins on 8 December 1999. Supporting prayer guides, videos, and posters can be ordered.
World Christian News and Books
P.O. Box 9208
Colorado Springs, CO 80932
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Join the Fourth Anual IDOP for the Persecuted ChurchFrom Cuba to Indonesia, Christians face some of the worst persecution since the days of the apostles.
on 14 November 1999
This year's International Day of Prayer (IDOP) for the persecuted church is 14 November 1999.
On this day millions of Christians in over one hundred countries and in tens of thousands of churches will intercede for persecuted communities of faith and for their tormentors.
IDOP is coordinated worldwide by the World Evangelical Fellowship (WEF) in order to . . .
- raise awareness
- inspire prayer
- promote compassion
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Storm the Gates of HellOn a bitter cold February morning, Sue McIntyre, Head of Mission for the United Methodist Committee On Relief (UMCOR) in Bosnia, and I, as Stabilization Force chaplain went, with our workers and bodyguards, to see what war had left behind. I thought I was used to the devastation in this beautiful country that is a cross between the Blue Ridge and the Rockies; burned buildings, minefields, and roads shattered by artillery shell craters.
With Strategic Reconstruction
As we started up the mountain, we shifted into four-wheel to cope with a road that was smashed in places, and the deepening snow. We stopped at the end of the road below the ridges of the mountaintop, near the former fields and pastures.
Gornje Pecine has -- or had -- 119 houses and a church. With shock I saw that every single house had been destroyed. The church had one wall left. Gornje Pecine had no government buildings, no radio or microwave towers or munitions; in fact, not even a school. The church had been the focal point for this entirely Roman Catholic community.
Seven houses were partially rebuilt, and in the central room of one of these, near the large pot-bellied stove, we were entertained with homemade bread, meats, vegetables and the traditional strong Balkan coffee.
There was an air of hope from the several families of several generations who were our hosts. Sue McIntyre explained that this community was viewed by many Bosnia-Herzegovina officials as a pivotal village to resettlement.
The former residents were living in surrounding cities and towns, occupying the homes of yet other "displaced persons."
The priest of Gornje Pecine explained through an interpreter that the people needed a church; a place of spiritual development, education, and a centering point for the community. If the church were rebuilt, the heart of the village, nearly all of these families would come home. This would free other homes for more displaced persons.
I could sense the old priest's sincerity, conviction, and his love for his people, his town and his church. As we made our way back to Sarajevo, we were convicted that we had to do something to help these people rebuild their lives. We wanted to rebuild the church. We want the Body of Christ to rebuild this church in love, and in so doing, build the Church.
UMCOR estimates that approximately $100,000 is needed for reconstruction. You can help by contributing to . . .
Building and Reconciliation Fund
(advance account number 982352-7)
designated for the Pecine church.
General Council on Finance and Admin.
The United Methodist Church,
P.O. Box 9068,
GPO New York, NY 10087-9068.
tel: 1-212-870-3816, fax: 1-212-870-3624
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IDOP Produces Extraordinary VideoInfidels, traitors, revolutionaries, and outcasts these are some of our brothers and sisters.
IDOP's new video, Four Faces, provides first person accounts of Christian suffering in four countries. This 30-minute film takes you into four of the most restrictive nations on earth. Don't miss this inspiration from those who share our faith without our freedom.cost $15
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Quake Strikes Turkey at a Critical TimeI will once more shake the heavens and the earth, the sea and the dry land.
news and needs
"It's hard to watch the news here. . . . There are only three stories. One is of crumbling buildings and pulling out victims. The second is of women crying for family members. The third is about people complaining that they don't have any food and the government isn't doing enough. . . . The hospitals are full. The morgues are full. They are using refrigerated trucks and an ice rink. . . . The small Turkish church here in Ankara has tried to respond."
e-mail from an expatriate in Turkey
One of history's most devastating earthquakes comes at a critical time in Turkey's spiritual development.
Luis Bush of the AD2000 and Beyond Movement reported in February, "The Turkish world is close to a spiritual breakthrough." Another ministry spokesperson said, "Turk believers are coming to maturity, and they are standing up for their rights." In the past Christians worshiped in private and rarely witnessed. Their secretiveness made authorities suspicious. Now, they are gaining freedom by being bold.
This past Christmas Eve, Turkish Christians distributed over 1000 New Testaments and hundreds of tapes in Istanbul. Believers in Ankara presented a Christmas drama in a hotel that attracted over 1000 people.
Turkish churches are more accepted and are finding it easier to obtain legal status. Ten years ago, Istanbul had only two churches. Today Istanbul has twelve congregations meeting in their own facilities and four meeting in homes. Most of Turkey's 55 million citizens have never heard the gospel and still oppose Christianity because of the legacy of the Crusades. Christians in Turkey number about 1000 Evangelicals, 17,000 Catholics, and 72,000 Orthodox.
Government corruption which led to poor construction and tragic results is also hampering relief efforts. One ministry reported that their container of aid took twelve hours to clear customs. As a result, Turkish Christian organizations are having unprecedented opportunities to break further out of isolation and demonstrate their integrity and love.
"As the evangelical churches set up their distribution system, they recognize this as a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for them to gain credibility in the eyes of their predominantly Muslim community," said Stephen Houston, World Relief's lead coordinator in Turkey. World Relief's president, Clive Calver, said that the goal is broader than evangelizing victims. It is to win the respect of the people and government making this "the first time since the Sultan of Turkey signed the treaty of Paris in 1856 that Turkey would have a positive response to the churches."
The task is overwhelming for Evangelicals in Turkey who number less than 0.005% of the population. Huge monetary inputs from outside are necessary to leverage their potential impact. Operation Reveille encourages you to give generously and pray fervently for God's work through these organizations listed after the People Profile.
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Gospel Sparks Ignite Dark Land of Ghengis Khan
news and needs
by Floyd SebaldWhy did missiologists give Mongolia the nickname the "Dark Land?"
However, in 1991 the doors of Mongolia suddenly opened to the outside world for the first time in seventy years as the country followed the former USSR and instated sweeping political and economic changes.
- The people have practiced an evil form of shamanistic Buddhism since the early 1600s.
- Mongolians were unresponsive to the gospel, brought from 1880-1920.
- The Soviet block Communists tightly controlled the country from 1921-1991, preventing all efforts to bring in the gospel.
- Except for a brief period in the 1200s, Mongolians have been isolated from the gospel and the love Christ.
As outside Christian leaders assessed the situation, it became clear that the Lord had been preparing the hearts of the Mongolian people through the 70 years of Communist rule.
At the end of 1991 there were roughly four Mongolian believers in the world. Now there are probably over 10,000.
Before 1991, there were no churches. Now there are probably more than 50 scattered through the vast land from which Genghis Khan and his grandsons once ruled most of Asia and Europe. This movement, however, is mostly among the common people. It still has a long way to go in reaching leaders.
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Advocacy -- Does it Work?When you write a letter or pray about religious persecution or political oppression, what happens?
news and needs
by T. Lynn Sidebotham .
Does it fall into some bureaucratic black hole? Do the angels weigh it in on God's scales of justice? Does it do much good to pray for people whose names you can't even pronounce?
Five Christians (Rashid Turibayev, Parakhat Yangibayev, Eset Tanishev, Na'il Asanov, Ibrahim Yusupov) were imprisoned in Uzbekistan.
The first four were imprisoned on false drug charges and the last was imprisoned for holding an illegal gathering of Christians.
Jubilee Campaign released their information and sponsored a letter-writing campaign. Meanwhile, the Religious Liberty Commission was about to make their mandatory report to the US Congress.
Uzbekistan was not anxious to figure as one of the worst ten countries for religious freedom, and wanted to improve its standing before the report.
The five prisoners were released at the end of August, including one with a term of 15 years.
Furthermore, a number of religious groups seeking registration were unexpectedly approved, so that more Christian churches have been registered. (Registering mosques has never been a problem.)
So, letters, which weigh next to nothing, and prayers, which weigh even less, do affect the scales of justice.
Keep praying for these men. A couple of them are still suffering pain from being tortured.
Their pardons are not full and unconditional (more like a suspended sentence), nor have they gotten back their identity documents.
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Faith Plays Crucial Role in East TimorAs turbulence envelops East Timor, religious faith will continue to play a central role in the fate of a people who voted for independence from predominantly Muslim Indonesia on 30 August of this year.
news and needs
Shortly after the referendum, anti-independence militias with tacit military approval began targeting the Roman Catholic community, structure, and leadership for destruction. This should come as no surprise. Ever since Indonesia invaded and annexed the former Portuguese colony in 1975, the Catholic Church has brought international attention to human rights abuses and has been a sanctuary for dissenters.
Even after 400 years of Portuguese rule, only about one-third of the population identified with the Catholic Church. Today, however, Catholic Church membership is ninety percent. When Indonesia took over, the church was seen as a refuge from the new imperialists.
When the government began suppressing the native Timorese language in favor of the national language, the church preserved it through liturgy and teaching in parochial schools.
East Timorese Catholic faith is simple, strong, and deeply rooted, although it is often syncretized with superstitious beliefs. It is a distinctive pre-Vatican II, old-fashioned, Portuguese kind of Catholicism. Although many affiliate with Catholicism out of patriotism more than spiritual devotion, many have also been drawn to a genuine faith in Jesus Christ.
The crisis in East Timor is more than a local conflict. A free East Timor may inspire latent independence movements elsewhere, and disrespect for non-majority religious communities is becoming a major theme in the struggle to keep control. In Ambon, Christian neighborhoods were brutally destroyed by mobs while police and military stand idly by. In Java, church facilities are burned down routinely. In Sumatra, some Christian pastors jailed on false accusations may never get a fair trial.
This complex situation creates some interesting alliances. Catholic Relief Services is collecting and delivering aid for displaced persons. Protestant organizations are too. In the midst of the ongoing Indonesian economic crisis, congregations in Indonesia are sacrificing to help more than 200,000 Timorese refugees who have fled to other parts of Indonesia. Some pastors are risking their lives to coordinate the aid. World Relief, the relief arm of the National Association of Evangelicals, reports of these leaders, "Some have prices on their heads and each day do not know if they will be returning home at night. Yet they continue their ministry."
You too can help through . . .
Catholic Relief Services
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Operation Reveille Helps Start Naaman Initiative"Now Naaman was commander of the army of the king of Aram. . . . So he went down and dipped himself in the Jordan seven times, as the man of God had told him, and his flesh was restored and became clean like that of a young boy."
news and needs
(2 Kings 5)
Representatives of some military ministries and ministries to Muslims met on 6 August 1999 at White Sulphur Springs, PA, to pray for and discuss a coordinated outreach to the military forces of the Islamic nations of the world, and the Naaman Initiative was born.
More Muslims are following Jesus Christ as Lord today than at any other time in history. Christian radio, satellite TV, and Jesus videos are penetrating to the heart of "closed" Muslim countries while Bible correspondence courses and "tentmakers" disciple new believers. Muslim terrorism and persecution of Christians can be interpreted as acts of desperation.
Muslim majority areas of the world are not monolithic. The wall of isolation is cracking. The world of Islam is in turmoil. Hundreds of Muslim military people are attending US schools. Many US military personnel are deployed to Muslim countries.
The Naaman Initiative is an outreach of the Fellowship of Christian Military Ministries dedicated to helping men and women in the armed forces of Islamic nations, and their families, become followers of Jesus. Through it interagency partnerships for ministry may be coordinated.
As priority number one, the Naaman Initiative will mobilize prayer. Second, the Naaman Initiative will facilitate training. It will marry those with expertise on Islam to US military ministries and personnel who are exposed to the Muslim world. Thirdly, the Naaman Initiative will advocate strategies, like those based on long-term personal relationships as opposed to those oriented around high profile events and mass produced evangelistic tools. Active duty and retired US military will be recruited for their unique opportunities and potential in showing hospitality and friendship.
Because in most Muslim countries the military enforces an anti-Christian status quo, personnel in the militaries of Muslim nations and their families are rarely engaged by Christian ministries that exist nearby. The Naaman Initiative hopes to end the isolation of these influential people from the gospel.
"And there were many in Israel with leprosy at the time of Elisha the prophet, yet not one of them was cleansed only Naaman the Syrian."
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Virtual Prayer Journeys
web site review
News networks bombard us with images of suffering from wars and natural disasters everyday.
Is it right to watch for entertainment, or is God calling us to do something?
Now you can take prayer journeys to remote and needy areas of the world right from your desktop thanks to the this remarkable web site established by Charlie Northcroft in Australia.
With stunning photos and inspiring text, this site walks you through a powerful five minutes of intercession.
For a quick detour into lists of background information click on the photos.
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The Reveille Shofar
Volume 3, Number 5 - O1 October 1999
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