Jerry Trousdale is Director of International Ministries for CityTeam International, an organization he joined in 2005. Jerry co-founded Final Command Ministries, an organization dedicated to establishing church planting movements among Muslim people groups.
In his new book, Miraculous Movements, Jerry recounts an amazing change taking place within Muslim communities where the truth of Jesus Christ is turning around the lives of many thousands of Muslims. This close look at what the Lord is doing to spread the gospel highlights the key scriptural principles that help Christian reach out in love to share the gospel in their own community and around the world.
Jerry answered Five Questions about CityTeam, its ministry to Muslims and Miraculous Movements.
There are several things that characterize not only CityTeam but all of the other organizations we train and coach that are also seeing success in disciple making movements.
First, a passion for lostness. CityTeam’s history is working with people in cities who are in desperate and dangerous situations, showing not only compassion for human suffering, but also a commitment to leave behind faithful disciples of Jesus making other disciples.
Second, CityTeam and others are willing to make radical paradigm shifts to align ministry with biblical values and principles. This is very counter-intuitive but powerful when applied.
Third, wherever you see rapidly multiplying movements you see much prayer. It is always prayer that initiates processes by which we partner with God to do what we can, and He does what only He can!
Fourth, most ministries having success in disciple making movements have a Kingdom of God mentality that is not about their own ministry but about freely giving away what they are learning to other ministries.
Fifth, it is all about making disciples, not converts. There is a huge difference in strategic intent, focus on obedience to God’s Word, and transformational impact on families and whole communities.
One of the fascinating things shown in the book is the Sheiks and Imams who are coming to Christ. Why is this happening?
Early on as we watched movements begin to happen in Muslim populations of Africa we realized that a high percentage of the people that the Bible calls “people of peace” – the people whom God had prepared to bridge the Gospel into Muslim communities – were in fact imams, sheiks, and senior Muslim leaders. That was shocking to us. We never expected that.
Our in-depth interviews with more than 100 former Muslim leaders reveal that there is a tremendous dissatisfaction and discouragement among the very people who know the Qur’an best and who are themselves desperate for assurance in their own religion. Many of these people are hungry to experience a God who loves them.
And then when they become Followers of Jesus they naturally relate back to many of their former Muslim associates whom they know are also hungry for more than they have experienced in Islam. We have a chapter in the book called "Expect the Greatest Results from the Hardest People" because this is an extraordinary phenomenon.
What percentage of newly converted believers in foreign countries that CityTeam has had a direct connection with will suffer for their faith, from being ostracized from their family to losing their life?
Probably eighty to ninety percent of the former Muslims we interviewed described the persecution that they experienced when they made that decision. That is to be expected—the Bible says more about persecution than it does about love. We had one case in a very dangerous place where one new Christian leader reverted to Islam after his family was taken away from him. That was of course devastating to the church there, but that is the only case like it that I know of.
New Muslim background disciples of Jesus are just fearless. We have a section in the book that describes the answer to the question we asked of six leaders of an underground movement where almost all of the leaders have been arrested at least once, and some have been imprisoned for years. The answers are incredibly powerful and humbling.
Talk more about the Muslims who have converted to Christianity, but go back to Islam because of the lack of family support.
We certainly see that occasionally happen. The most dramatic experience we have seen is that we had a disciple maker trainer, church planter in an Arab environment and when it was discovered he was planting churches, enormous pressure was put on him and he reverted and went back to the mosque for a season. And that devastated a whole network because it was in an area that is severely persecuted. And so nobody knew what had been told to whom. But that is an extreme case of it happening.
The good news is this model tends to focus on families rather than individuals. Because when you are finding a person of peace or a family of peace, it is usually a small community – a clan, nuclear family, group of close friends. The person of peace already has God’s hand on them and so they are already inclined to bridge the Gospel into their community.
Finally, for anyone who wants to see our world penetrated with the real deal of who Jesus is, what is your encouragement to these men and women who want to follow Jesus – not a program or a church but a Savior?
Begin to implement in your life a few things that Jesus modeled when He was on the earth: pray for lost people, ask God for love and compassion, genuinely engage lostness by starting with the people that God has already begun to draw to himself, and help those people launch in their own circle of influence simple discovery Bible studies that are really an embryonic church, and stay with the process by coaching and mentoring new leaders to reproduce the process, and never stop praying. Then people will begin to discover God in their own simple obedience, and what Jesus promised the 12 at the last supper in that upper room will begin to happen.
As people love and obey God He will empower the Holy Spirit of Truth to dispel darkness and untruth, He will begin to manifest the very life of God in them and their families, and eventually Jesus said: you will prove you are my disciples and your fruit will abide.
That is what I think we all really want in life. The presence of God alive in us…bearing fruit that will remain after we leave. What could be more perfect?