In the Middle East, Gospel workers are beginning to see a breakthrough among a group known as the Ishmaelites who are dispersed throughout the region. They go back to Ishmael, the son of Abraham and Hagar, in the Bible.
Genesis 17:20-21 records God’s words to Abraham about Ishmael’s future:
As for Ishmael, I have heard you; behold, I have blessed him and will make him fruitful and multiply him greatly. He shall father twelve princes, and I will make him into a great nation.
Historically, the Ishmaelites have long been opposed to the Gospel. Ministry progress has been slow, but that’s starting to change. Uncharted Ministries has a project to bring the Ishmaelites to Christ called I Found The Truth.
Its president Tom Doyle told Mission Network News a ministry team recently gathered with Ishmaelite believers for a week of Bible study, prayer, and encouragement. “That’s a significant move of the Holy Spirit to reach a group that links their past all the way back to Ishmael in Genesis, so this is big,” Mr. Doyle explained.
Because the journey to the Christian faith often starts with dreams of Jesus and a search for meaning among Muslims, I Found the Truth shares similar stories from Muslims who dreamt of Jesus. The next step is meeting followers of Jesus. Many Ishmaelites live in areas affected by multiple crises, such as civil war, terrorism, hunger, and natural disasters. Surrounded by these circumstances, the fruit of the Spirit in believers makes them stand out to spiritual seekers.
“In the midst of the tragedy that they’re living in, they see Christians that are living in the same thing, but they have love, joy, peace, patience, and it’s a magnetic pull to them. They want to know, how can you be happy and live here where we live and have this joy?” Mr. Doyle expounded.
Disciple-makers then share God’s Word with them. As the seekers learn what God says in Scripture, they begin to understand His love for them and the purpose He has for their lives. Tom Doyle observes: “We know for the church to be strong, the church has to understand who they are in Christ, and what God’s called them to do .That’s what discipleship does and that’s what launches them into the body of Christ to be effective. And to be a change agent in the Middle East or Central Asia, North Africa, wherever they live.””
Mr. Doyle called for prayer to protect his ministry’s disciple-makers.