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Prayer walk opens way for witness in Middle East

NICOSIA, Cyprus (BP)–A prayer walk in a Middle Eastern country led to scores of Muslims hearing the gospel during late February.

Randy Sprinkle, prayer coordinator for the Southern Baptist Foreign Mission Board, accompanied a Southern Baptist worker on a prayer walk through the capital of the country, which cannot be named because of security concerns. After passing a Muslim street preacher several times, they decided to talk to him.

The worker shared the gospel with the Muslim preacher, and scores of people gathered around to hear his words. Though the Muslim preacher had been talking loudly about Islam, he listened attentively to the worker’s words, said Sprinkle, who stood nearby praying intently.

The Southern Baptist worker also was invited to share the gospel in a drug rehabilitation center after they visited the facility’s leaders.

“You understand I’ll be sharing about Jesus just as I’ve shared with you?” the incredulous Southern Baptist worker asked. “Yes,” the facility director replied, “that’s what we want to hear.”

One patient at the facility was delivered of his drug addiction when he became a believer last fall. Since then the new believer has been trying to share the gospel with other addicts, but was unable to do so until the prayer walk provided an opening.

In a third encounter the two Southern Baptists met a well-dressed local sheik at a shop on a back street and again later at a restaurant. He invited the local Southern Baptist worker to visit a local Islamic mosque to tell the people about Jesus and let them ask questions.

Such responses are not common in such a heavily Muslim country. But Sprinkle said he is not surprised because of the increased prayer focus by evangelical churches on Muslim evangelism in recent years.

“For many years God has been moving his church with a burden for people locked into Islam,” he said.

In another incident, a local believer accompanied Sprinkle and some Southern Baptist workers to a point overlooking the capital city. As they stood there praying for its people to find Jesus Christ as savior, the local believer began asking himself out loud how he could get into all those thousands of homes to share the gospel.

“That’s what can happen in a prayer walk,” Sprinkle said.

Sprinkle met later with Southern Baptist personnel from across the Middle East and northern Africa gathered on Cyprus and led them on a prayer walk through downtown Nicosia.

Several prayer walks have been held in the region during recent years and Southern Baptist representatives currently are enlisting 5,000 Southern Baptist congregations across the United States for concentrated prayer for work in the area.

“All intercession is spiritual warfare. It’s standing in the gap for someone. Prayer is the act of confessing to God that we are unable to do anything about the situation and that only he can do it,” Sprinkle told the workers before they hit the streets of Nicosia to walk and pray.

Some workers went to pray near the infamous “Green Line,” a no-man’s land which divides Nicosia between the Turkish-held northern part of the island and the Greek Cypriot side. Tensions have been high on the island in recent months after a series of border incidents.

“Prayer walking is not a substitute for sharing the gospel,” Sprinkle cautioned. But “evangelism is picking up the spoils from a battle already won in prayer,” he said.

Sometimes career workers serve a long time in a place and gradually stop seeing the place as it is, but on prayer walks they see things they’ve never noticed before, Sprinkle noted.

“Things get illumined when the Holy Spirit reveals insights to us we would gain no other way,” he explained.

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