What started as anti-government movements in Tunisia in December has now spread to Algeria, Jordan, Yemen, Egypt and Sudan. Through protests and Facebook campaigns, citizens have stood against their governments recently in Iraq, Bahrain, Iran and Libya.
Shockingly these democratic revolutions have nothing to do with the U.S. military.
Missionary Shawn Billings* has worked with people from Algeria, Tunisia, Morocco and Egypt as a church planter.
Like most, he is unsure of the future.
“Honestly, no one knows what all results this will bring. Those who put their trust in democracy will be sorely disappointed though. If democracy is a rule by the people, and the people support putting Sharia, or Islamic law, as their government, then at best one will have free elections that could only vote (for) radical Muslims,” Billings said.
He thinks there is still a chance for change.
“The only hope for the people in the region is for God to intervene and bring revival to His church. The church must wake up and cry out to God for change of hearts, both for Muslims and the Christians themselves in the region. Only God can install the good leaders that these countries need because only God can perform miracles,” he said.
One missionary in the Middle East, who asked to remain anonymous, recognized the influence of Christians as a catalyst in Egypt.
“One of the things that has been kind of lost in all of the revolutions is the fact that in Egypt it all started with Coptic Christians, who stood up to the police,” he said. “After they stood up to them they were joined by their Muslim neighbors. I know that they wanted Democratic freedoms but it started with an injustice against the minority religious group. … I don’t think that the region is as divided as the media portrays it.”
Kent Parks, head of Mission to Unreached Peoples, is currently traveling in southeast Asia leading meetings and a Church Planting Movement training.
He said the contact they have with workers from various regions means they need to be prepared as people move to Christ.
“Many of us around the world have begun to be impressed by the Lord that when Jesus teaches in Matthew 24 about the growing crescendo of crises and tragedies (earthquakes, wars, etc.), he concludes that section by saying in verse 14 ‘and this good news of the Kingdom will be proclaimed.’ He does not say ‘but’ or ‘in spite of.’ He says ‘and’,” Parks said.
The tragedies, driven by evil, bring good.
“God will bring good out of evil by opening these places to the Gospel in ways that have never happened or cannot happened before,” he said.
Parks does not want this to be thought of as just a theology of opportunism.
“We must go in with all professional standards as the global body of Christ, help people recover, do all the right things, but also know that in these times, as we share openly that God sent us to help them, as well as know how to help them open their whole family to believing,” he said.
Parks relates issues with his experience in a tsunami afflicted town restrictive to the gospel. of Christ, help people recover, do all the right things, but also know that in these times, as we share openly that God sent us to help them, as well as know how to help them open their whole family to believing,” he said.
Parks relates issues with his experience in a tsunami afflicted town restrictive to the gospel.
“The local religious papers and the nationwide papers noted with surprise that followers of Jesus from literally every continent showed up to help the people when their own ‘brothers’ from the Middle East did not,” he said
“I can tell you that reproducing groups of disciples who follow Jesus and start other reproducing groups have already emerged to the second generation of reproduction.”
Parks believes tragedy means something dramatic will happen.
“Often it is a crisis but always there is a noted increase of people coming to faith and discipling their families and clans …. So, we must pray more that in the middle of tragedy, Christ’s followers will be ready to help with the situation,” he said.
*Some names have been changed to protect anonymity.
Ethan Mitra contributed to this story.