Over the last year, Christians across the U.K. have been confronted with a sudden escalation of Radical Islam, with stories of terrible atrocities and bloodshed out in Iraq and Syria. What has shocked us even more, is that English Muslims in their hundreds have poured out to these war zones to give their support to ISIS and other radical groups. In a BBC poll of 1000 Muslims in Britain, they found that a quarter of Muslims in Britain say they have some sympathy for the motives behind the Charlie Hebdo attacks, and feel that acts of violence are justified against people who mock the Prophet. Even more disturbing, they found that 45 percent of Muslims believe that Muslim Clerics are justified when they preach violence as a response to the Wests interference in Muslim Nations.
On the other hand, we are seeing that this violence is actually discrediting Islam in the eyes of millions of Muslims world-wide. It is a major factor in many of them turning to Christ, as Muslims begin to question their Islamic identity. At the same time as the real threat, this presents one of the greatest opportunities of our time- to unveil Jesus to Muslim people in the Western World and bring them to Christ.
So what is this new phenomenon networking both agencies and churches which has proved to be such a catalyst to unity and prayer? This prayer-based relational network is called "Mahabba" ("love" in Arabic) and it has flourished over the last three years, mainly because of the unprecedented opportunity in the UK, with its emphasis on motivating and mobilizing "ordinary" Christians rather than just "specialists" to reach their Muslim neighbors. Right now, during Ramadan they will send you a daily prayer focus to inspire you, if you sign up on their website: mahabbanetwork.com.
Many Christians, have focused on the effects of "Islamization "and on the persecuted church, responding with fear and alienating themselves from face to face interaction with their Muslim neighbors. So this new networking is helping thousands of people to "face the facts but not fuel the fear," and this often leads not only to Muslims coming to Christ, but also improved social cohesion through activities in the cities with a high Islamic presence. This is not however just an Inter-faith exercise, and has so far led to growing numbers of Muslims coming to faith in Jesus Christ and being discipled. The testimony of all the networks, is that the old model of "specialists" reaching Muslims was frustrating and unproductive, but since mobilizing ordinary Christians into prayer communities, the conversions have increased significantly. (See: mahabbanetwork.com and "Mahabba UK" on YouTube.)
This network was started as a partnership of many churches and agencies in Oxford seeking opportunities to introduce local Muslims to the Good News about Jesus. Mahabba, as a movement, seeks to be a catalyst in networking together "ordinary Christians", resourced by agency "cpecialists" and championed by church leaders, to love their Muslim neighbors. So Mahabba is not seen as an Agency which are often seen negatively by Pastors: their model is a prayer-based relational network which equips local churches with mentoring and training materials, which help church leaders to train ordinary members of churches to relate to Muslims in love and be able to explain the Gospel clearly (for example, "Friendship First", "Come Follow Me" and "Joining the Family." See kitab.org.uk).
They believe that this should not be the domain of experts in Islam, and have shown that the most successful means of reaching Muslims is through mobilizing thousands of "ordinary believers" into united persistent prayer. By expanding the network they have seen Christians across the U.K. motivated to reach out in love to the thousands of Muslim people who are now living among them. The Mahabba prayer model normally consists of a partnership between groups of churches, and it creates a learning environment in which Christians can participate in one of the greatest Mission opportunities in present times. Perhaps Mahabba could be the equivalent, in the realm of ministry to Muslims, to what Alpha has been for the broader church: A carefully defined; replicable concept enabling time—poor and non–specialist believers to make a significant positive difference on behalf of Christ in their community.
It seems that God is on the move! Mahabba Networks have been now been launched in over 40 cities across the U.K., as well as spreading across to France, Belgium, Norway, Austria, even Australia and South Africa, and they have been asked to help establish it in India and Korea If you would like help in setting up a Mahabba Network, contact: email@example.com
For those who want to know even more about Mahabba, here's a dropbox with a few presentations.
Gordon Hickson came to Christ during a revival in Cambridge in October 1975 with Nicky Gumbel. He became the International Crusade Director for Reinhard Bonnke from 1986-1990 during the exciting years of going from the Big Tent to massive Crusades with hundreds of thousands, and for several years he also traveled with Bro Yun, the Heavenly Man with the Back to Jerusalem Movement. On returning to U.K., he became an Assemblies of God Minister, and their missions director for the Muslim World. With his wife's ministry of "Heartcry for Change" they set up the London Prayernet as a 24/7 prayer shield over London. In 2005 he was ordained into the Anglican Church, and served for almost six years as parish vicar of St. Aldates Church in Oxford, where Mahabba began a prayer meeting. Since 2012, he has been setting up Mahabba nationally, motivating and mobilizing ordinary Christians to unveil Jesus to Muslims.
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