The conference has been held for some years and has been growing in size since. It started as a response to the growing influence of Islam on the UK and the persecution of the Church in Islamic countries. Our conference aims to inform and encourage the church to pray.
The theme this year was 'Global trends in Islam: Church growth in Moslem countries and the Arab Spring two years on.’ Our keynote speaker was Gordon Hickson, who served for five years as Crusade Director for German evangelist Reinhard Bonnke in Africa and Asia. He was previously an Assemblies of God minister and Senior Pastor of a group of churches in Watford, and is now an Anglican vicar.
Gordon shared about the changes that have taken place in the Muslim world, especially the growth of the church in places like Iran and Indonesia. These have not reached the media in the UK but still need to be told. Many are experiencing supernatural encounters with the ‘Man in white’, as Jesus is called, with many conversions due to dream and visions.
The foundation stone of evangelism is love, but recognising that while Muslims have real needs, the institution of Islam is oppressive and binds spiritually. Gordon emphasised that programmes don't necessarily bring about change, but prayer does, and went on to share his experiences with Reinhard Bonnke.
This led on to Mahabba
, a network of concerned Christians who meet regularly to pray for their Muslim neighbours. He believes that in this part of east London we have the foundations in place already.
Chris Binstead was another speaker. Chris is a Regional Activist with Pioneer/AWM
, and has many years mission experience and stories from the Arab world. He said we are now seeing fruit in many countries where missionaries toiled for many years, sharing the gospel and persevering in prayer yet never seemingly to any effect. He mentioned Algeria, where the government has given the church recognition and passed a bill allowing conversions to take place.
Church deacon Seun Kolade spoke of his homeland Nigeria. Although there has been attacks on Christians for many years, it is only recently that bombing has emerged, along with Boko Haram. During a visit there he said he heard some heart rending stories of suffering by Christians. We spent quite some time interceding for Africa’s most populous country and the kidnapped girls, asking God to help Nigerian Christians show forgiveness and love.
On a local level, Imtiaz Khan shared from his perspective of getting churches to engage the local Muslim community, using Meetings for Better Understanding and bookstalls and poetry evenings. He has a passion to model this approach and see others copy an effective evangelistic method.
Prayer is the key to Muslim outreach whether in the Middle East or east London! Not only did we spend significant amounts of time doing it, but gave everyone a vision to continue this vital role in all the different churches that came. This conference was a blessing: all who came felt that God's presence was very real and above all, we prayed.