Samuel Zwemer knowing full well the challenges of working "in the lands of the Mohammedans" as he called them, and seeing "the glory of the impossible" as he called it, minced no words, also as he quoted Edward Glenny, as to why his Reformed roots of 'salvation belongs to the Lord' was his motive, means and message.
In 1900 he wrote his Arabia, the Cradle of Islam and near to its conclusion (pp. 397-398) he states,
The Moslem world is in no better condition and in no worse condition than the heathen world as portrayed in the New Testament. The need of both is the same; and the same duty to evangelize them; and the same promise of God's blessing on our work of witness. The Mohammedan world is also without excuse (Rom. 1:20,32), without hope (John 3:36; Eph. 2:12), without peace (Isaiah 48:22), without feeling (Eph. 4:19), without Christ (Rom. 13:13,14) as is the heathen world. But no less is our responsibility toward them nor the power of God's love to win them.
It is the rock of Christ's Sonship which is the stone of stumbling and the rock of offence to the Moslem mind. But it is this very rock on which Christ builds His church; and the foundation of God standeth sure. Writing on this subject Mr. Edward Glenny, the Secretary of the North Africa Mission, well says:
"Blessed be God, we are not left to carry on this warfare at our own charges! 'He that sent Me is with Me,' said the Master; and He who sends His servants now is surely with them also, for the promise stands, 'Lo! I am with you alway, even unto the end of the age.' In all our efforts for the salvation of men, we are dependent upon the power of the Spirit of God; for no man can say that Jesus is the Lord, but by the Holy Ghost. But if those of us who work at home are conscious of this, those who labor in Mohammedan countries realize it most intensely. Amongst the masses at home, what we have to contend against mostly is indifference; but there it is deeply-rooted prejudice, aye, even in many cases, hatred to Jesus as the Son of God. But the battle is the Lord's, not ours; we are but instruments to carry out His purposes. The Spirit has been sent forth from the Father to 'convict THE WORLD of sin,' and we are not justified in making any reservation [i.e. exception] in the case of Mohammedans–yea, may we not expect that if there be a nation or race on the earth more inaccessible than another, more averse to the gospel, more hardened against its teachings, that there the Lord will show 'the exceeding greatness of His power' by calling out some from their midst whom He may make 'chosen vessels' to bear His name to others? Has not that been His mode of working in time past?"
Questions for thought:
- Is it possible that in outreach methods to Muslims, we somehow consider them to be a different class of people? Have you heard the words "resistant" and "hard to reach" associated with them? From what Zwemer and Glenny state, is this true from a Biblical standpoint?
- Zwemer and Glenny, no strangers to the challenges of their work appear to focus on God's capacity and his strength, rather than the power of their "friendship first," "building bridges," "disarming dialog." Is it possible that these approaches, which all have some merit, have started to eclipse what it truly the motive power for outreach to Muslims? Could it be that even with good intentions, there is a subtle tendency to "improve on" God's methods?