As the result of recent violence in the Middle East, a pastor who grew up in a Muslim household focused his message during a popular Christian leadership webcast on discussing how the Church should engage and love the Muslim community.
"The future of Islam is directly related to the future of the Church. The question [then becomes], is the church going to be what it is right now or is it going to be radically changed? Because I believe this, I believe it needs to change," said Naeem Fazal, pastor of Mosaic Church in Charlotte, N.C., during the first day of the two-day "Nines" conference on Thursday.
"It needs to leverage the strongest, the most forceful thing, the most irresistible thing that we have and that is the love of the Father," Fazal continued. "You see the reality you and I live in [as Christians] is because of the love of the Father. It was the Father who loved the world, us, so much that He gave his son for us. In fact, He sent us his Spirit so we could find comfort and be guided by his Spirit. Jesus is the way to the Father."
He said the recent uprisings in the Middle East, including the killings brings to the forefront once again the conversation in the Christian community about the religion of Islam.
"I grew up in the Middle East, my parents are Pakistani, and I was raised in Kuwait. I came to Christ in 1992. It was a radical experience. God's changed my life and my family's life as well," Fazal said. "It's crazy to see how God's love knows no bounds and will reach a person like me. In light of the current events I'm compelled to speak into that."
He said that according to Scripture it is the kindness of God that leads to repentance.
"So the translation is that it is the love of the Father that causes people's hearts to change. I wonder if God is telling us that as the Church we are supposed to be His kindness embodied so the world can change," he said.
"I know there are Christians praying for Muslims, but I don't know if they are praying because they love them. I wonder if it's not based on fear or insecurity or maybe it's their fear concerning the enemy. That's not the Father's heart," Fazal explained. "What would happen if your prayers, my prayers, for the Muslims would be compelled by love? What would happen? What would happen to the Middle East? What would happen if the Church would just begin to pray prayers that were compelled by the love of the Father?"
He answered his own questions by saying that Christians would no longer view Muslims or anybody else as the enemy and begin praying for them as simply people needing the Gospel message.
"We really only have one enemy and it's the one that's blinded the minds of unbelievers. Let's be the Church. Let's fight against the enemy and let's love people," Fazal said.
Fazal chose his subject for the "Hot Button" issues category Christian leaders were asked to speak on for the first day of the conference. The "Nines" features back-to-back nine-minute video messages from renowned and lesser known communicators and pastors. The webcast conference ends Friday.
A personal testimony given by Fazal about his journey from a Muslim upbringing to a Christian faith can be found on his website: http://www.naeemfazal.com/.