Christian ministries plan to use prayers and satellite TV to reach Muslims with the message of Christ during Ramadan, Islam's holiest month.
Open Doors USA, a ministry that supports persecuted believers, is launching a campaign in which Christians will pray for Muslims throughout Ramadan, from Aug. 11 to Sept. 9.
During Ramadan, Muslims abstain from eating, drinking and sexual activities from dawn until dusk. The fasting, for purification purposes, should be coupled with increased prayers and good deeds. For those 30 days, Muslims control their bodies as they focus on seeking Allah, their god.
"As a Muslim I would go to the mosque every day, from 6 o'clock in the morning, and I would pray," recalled a former Imam to Open Doors.
David, whose real name was withheld for security reasons, shared with the ministry how he heard the voice of Jesus during Ramadan through the prayers of an elderly Christian woman. According to experts on Muslim-to-Christian conversions, it is not uncommon for Muslims in the countries hostile to Christianity to report being led to Jesus Christ through dreams and visions.
"She (the elderly woman) said, 'I have been praying for you every time you walked into that mosque. It's just amazing to see that God has answered my prayer,'" recalled David. "She was very surprised because she never thought that I could actually become a believer in Christ. In her eyes, I looked very hard to convince. That will always stay on my heart; to know that my prayers can make a difference to somebody."
Open Doors USA is offering a Ramadan Prayer Calendar on its website to help Christians pray for Muslims during the 30-day period. The calendar also contains prayer requests for Christians who face persecution in Muslim countries.
While Open Doors is focusing on reaching Muslims through prayers, SAT-7 – a Christian satellite television service to the Middle East and North Africa – plans to do the same through programs that explain who Christ is.
"It's a religious time, but it's also a family time. And it's also a time when many people in the Arab world are truly seeking God," said David Harder, SAT-7's communications manager, to Mission Network News. "We have many stories of people who, during Ramadan, have been crying out for God to reveal Himself and they have dreams of Jesus."
Harder also urged Christians in the West to pray for believers in Muslim countries. During Ramadan, he noted, these Christians realize more than ever that they are not part of the majority population.
"So we can pray that they would be encouraged and that they would also be used, be bold, and have opportunities to talk about the hope that lies within them, and that they would do it with gentleness and respect as the Scripture tells us to do," he said.
SAT-7 is the largest Christian satellite network in the Middle East. Its weekly viewership is between nine to ten million people and includes people from the Middle East and North Africa. Although SAT-7 has Christian programs, many of its viewers are actually Muslims.
In a 2009 survey of Iraqi viewership, SAT-7 found that about 5.3 million Iraqis, or about 19 percent of the population, watch SAT-7 programs. As Iraq's Christian community is less than 600,000, the ministry says it is safe to say that most of the SAT-7 viewers in Iraq are Muslims.
Besides seeking to strengthen believers living in predominantly Muslim countries, SAT-7 also strives to present a more accurate image of Christianity to the Arab world.