God is at work in the Muslim world. I concede that the day’s headlines are not encouraging: the Taliban insists it will keep fighting in Afghanistan as peace talks begin, while yesterday’s killing of an Iranian nuclear scientist may have significant repercussions. But here’s some news you may have missed.
Israeli and Palestinian officials met in Amman, Jordan earlier this week to explore ways they could begin peace negotiations. The parties have agreed to make comprehensive proposals on territory and security by January 26. Both sides have refrained from openly criticizing each other.
Meanwhile, Christians in Egypt held their traditional January 6 Christmas celebration last weekend. This time, however, members of the ruling military council joined them, as did leaders of the Muslim Brotherhood. This was the first time in the history of Cairo’s main cathedral that such a show of unity has occurred.
A third story from the Middle East may be the most remarkable of all. A very dear friend sent me a report from an Egyptian pastor with whom his church partners. This pastor describes a prayer vigil held in Cairo’s Tahrir Square on New Year’s Eve. More than 50,000 people packed the square for an hour of prayer and worship. Evangelical Christians were joined by Orthodox and Catholic priests, as well as a large number of Muslims.
The pastor says, “It was deeply moving for us to be able to worship God before thousands of Egyptians in a square that has been the main scene of violence and bloodshed for the past year. We praise God that on THIS night this place was an altar of praise and worship to our God and source of joy and celebration for the Egyptian people.”
He adds: “Thousands, if not millions, more Egyptians witnessed this event, as it was broadcasted on most of the secular Egyptian TV channels and highlighted on the front page of all the Egyptian newspapers the next day.” The pastor concludes: “Thank God with us for His might protection of these thousands of people, for the opportunity to praise Him before our fellow Egyptians and for the joy of uniting with thousands of Orthodox and Catholic believers in praising our heavenly Father!”
The Middle East is still the “hinge of history.” That’s why I’m excited to lead another study tour to Israel this April. I go to the Holy Land at least once every year; each time the experience is transforming for me. Every day I “pray for the peace of Jerusalem” (Psalm 122:6), and invite you to join me.
God is clearly answering prayer for the Middle East. He is still on his throne, redeeming all he allows for his glory and our good (Romans 8:28). Philip Yancey, one of my favorite Christian writers, is right: God goes where he’s wanted. What have you asked your Father to do in your life today?