been built over an old historic church, clear indication of the su premacy of Islam; Alexandria and Port Said showed us the vast mul titudes of the Middle East surely as Christ must have seen them, sheep without a Shepherd; Port Sudan with Kipling’s f amous “fuzzy-wuzzies,” the only ones who could br eak a “ British- square,” now un l oad ing cargo from ships. The puffing engine slowly pulled us out of the steam ing humidity of the Red Sea Port and into the cooler climate of the Red Sea hills where we could see clusters of little mud huts with thatched roofs and occasionally a camel caravan. All this vast com plex of people, was held together by one intangible premise, and a false one at that, that Muham mad was God’s last apostle and prophet. How could they be reached ? The name, Khartoum, brought vivid memories of General Chi nese Gordon, Lord Kitchner, and a young subaltern in Kitchner’s army by the name of Winston Churchill. The city, at the divi sion of the mighty Nile, separated it into the Blue and the White, lovely to look at from a distance. “Lose your sense of smeU but not your sense of humor” we had been told on leaving New York, and we soon learned why! We were intoxicated wi th s i ght s and sounds. People in strange dress, Southern tribesmen with tribal markings etched into their facial skin, Northern Muslims in their white jelabiyas and turbans , formed a crazy quilt pattern of color and sound. In the back of our minds constantly came the question, “ How can th ey be r e a c h e d ? How can th ey be reached?" So many were pitted against so few! Six months later, we experi enced another jolting ride up from Khartoum to Port Sudan on a re turn trip. It was not quite so green. The glamour had long since worn off. It wears off quickly in the midst of heat and dust, sweat and flies, a sticky foreign lan guage and a yelling teacher!
tle to Islam,’ ” declared Dr. Ken neth S. Latourette, foremost mis sions historian of our time. As I read and studied, it be came more and more clear why the church had hardly touched the fringe of Islam. Nowhere had the Christian message been rebuffed so utterly, and nowhere had Chris tianity been so defeated and driv en back as it was by the descen dants o f the prophet. The lands of the Book were under the domi nation of the minar et -1 si am. “ There is no god but God and Mo hammed is His prophet!” sounded out the prayer-caller’s cry fivd times a day, the embodiment of the creed of Islam. The Church had turned to greener fields. Samuel Zwemer’s cry for the fields of Islam was: “ Thou, O Christ, art all I want and Thou, 0 Christ, art all they want; what Christ can do for any man He can do for every man.” Defeatism he did not know, though he labored for some forty years in the Middle East with only a small handful o f converts to show for it. Eyes opened to wonder ‘why?’ by the huge missionary map at the Church o f the Open Door, and then through the writings of this man of God, the Lord laid on my heart the need of the Muslims. The vast Muslim world never has been effectively reached with the Gospel at any time. In com parison with other mission fields of the world, the missionary force to these areas and people have been a paltry handful, estimated at 1 to every 110,000 people. Our hearts were filled with joy when we were at last on our way to minister to them! As we slow ly rolled, jerked, and bumped over the desert from Port Sudan to Khartoum on the “Khartoum Ex press” on our second leg of the journey — our first was by slow freighter from New York to Bei rut, Alexandria, Port Said, Suez, and then Port Sudan where we disembarked — I wondered how this vast area ever could be evan gelized with the Gospel. In Beirut we saw the mosque which had
MIRACLE in the DESERT
W e e k BY w e e k we met in the main auditorium o f the Church of the Open Door for classes with the huge map o f the world and its little dots of light showing the positions of the mis sionaries which had gone out from Biola and the Church of the Open Door staring down in front of us. My gaze constantly trav elled to the peninsula of Arabia where there were no lights. Why, I wondered, had no missionaries ever gone to Arabia? Was the peninsula desert of people? Oil I knew was there, for many Ameri cans were working the oil fields for the “ black gold.” Over the years during missions’ emphasis week, I sought to find missionaries, or a mission work ing in Arabia, I found none. Once only did I hear of a person work ing among the Arabs and he was from Trans-Jordan as it was then called. IshmaePs ch i l dr en , it seemed, were deserted in the des ert — so far as the church of Christ was concerned. Interest aroused, stirred by the prompt ing o f the Sp i r i t , I searched the library shelves for books on the Arabs, and missions to the Arabs. There were not many, but there were some. The majority were written by one who was called “ The Apostle to Islam,” Dr. Samuel Marcus Zwemer. “No one through all the centuries of Christian missions to Muslims has deserved better than Dr. Samuel Zwemer the designation of ‘Apos
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