The Door is Open, The Time is Now
“Jesus never raised a sword against anyone!” If that statement sounds unremarkable to you, consider how it might strike a Muslim fleeing war in his native land. It’s the message that AFM missionary, The Rev. Dr. Duane Miller, took to Korea to train Koreans to witness to Yemenis.
About 3 million Yemenis have fled the war ravaging their country. Many of them have found their way to Indonesia, another Muslim-majority nation that admits Yemenis with no visa requirement. For some of those, Indonesia has proved a jumping-off point for South Korea and its bustling economy.
A Korean ministry, primarily focused on evangelizing North Korean defectors to the South, invited Miller to instruct Christians in witnessing to the Muslims recently arrived from Yemen. An American, Miller lives in Madrid, where he serves on the staff of the Anglican Cathedral and teaches at the Protestant Faculty of Theology. He also teaches at the Christian Institute of Islamics in San Antonio, Texas, and has written extensively on Islam and evangelization of Muslims. He provided a chapter titled “The World of Islam” for “Shadows From Light Unapproachable,” AFM’s memoir celebrating our 25th anniversary.
In his week-long visit, Miller also spoke to a graduating class of North Korean Christians, addressed two churches, and held a press event on conversion of Muslims. His primary purpose, however, was teaching on how to reach Yemenis. This is the face of 21st-century missions: an American who has lived in Mexico, Jordan, Scotland and Spain training Koreans to witness to Yemenis. A jumble? Perhaps, but one fraught with opportunity.
The refugees among them, Miller told his Korean hosts, are living in turmoil. Many of them have lost loved ones to the violence back home. In such troubled times, far more than in tranquil ones, people tend to re-examine big questions and foundational beliefs. One of Islam’s abiding teachings, set out in the Quran, is that Muslims are the best people in the world. This is the mother’s milk of Islam, fed to those born into the religion from infancy and scarcely challenged – until upheaval forces a reconsideration.
The Yemenis who have fled know that Muslims have been killing Muslims in Syrian and Afghanistan. They know too well the same has happened in their own country. They can hardly avoid a searing question: If we are so bent on slaughtering each other, can we be the best people in the world?
If a Christian can introduce a Muslim to the gospel, that Muslim will discern without prodding a central truth of Christianity: Jesus never raised a sword against anyone. And that truth will provoke more questions, deeper reflection and, in some cases, a changed heart.
The Rev. Ed Fowler served parishes of the Reformed Episcopal Church in Houston, Durango, Colo., and Broken Arrow, Okla. Before his ordination, he wrote for newspapers in Austin, Texas; Kansas City, Mo.; Chicago, and Houston and then worked in overseas missions, traveling in Central Asia, North Africa, Turkey, Macedonia and Kosovo. He currently works in prison ministry and in a support role in overseas missions. He lives in Hot Springs, Ark., with his wife, Marjorie, a member of the board of Anglican Frontier Missions. You can