Ramadan is from July 8 through August 7 this year. If you live in America, you’re probably oblivious to this, but if you live anywhere else in the world, particularly Africa, the Middle East, and western Asia, you’ve probably very aware of this. If you have no idea what I’m talking about, this succinct article is very helpful in understanding the basics of Islam, and pointing to resources for ministering to Muslims.
We are more aware of Ramadan this year, because there is a new mosque just a couple blocks up the street from us. Now we can hear the call to prayer several times every day. The mosque pictured above is one of the biggest, located in the heart of “India Town.” In the 4+ years that we’ve been in Malawi, we’ve noticed many other signs of a growing Muslim presence. There are more Muslims immigrating to Malawi, but there are also more Malawians converting to Islam.
For a nation that is considered to be 85% Christian, this may be surprising. However, what we’ve learned is that while there have been many generations of Christian missionaries in this part of the world, the focus of outreach here has been heavy on evangelism, and light on discipleship. The vast majority of professing Christians only understand the very basics of the gospel, and they are rarely taught how to practice what truth they do know. As you might expect, a shallow understanding of the Bible leads to a grave lack of discernment. Poor teaching has left many Malawian “Christians” vulnerable to deception and falsehood from all quarters.
Our goal is not just to produce statistical Christians, but people who are “mature in Christ” (Col. 1:28) and who “observe all that He commanded” (Matt. 28:20). We concentrate heavily on discipleship at our church, calling professing Christians to become practicing Christians, and endeavoring to help people grow in their understanding and practice of God’s truth. By God’s grace, we are able to participate in His work of transforming His people and strengthening His church. That’s why we’re here.
And Ramadan is just one more reminder – with every call to prayer – of what an important goal this is.