Group pushes on with missions to Muslims
By Rick Vacek
GCU News Bureau
The first time Bob Blincoe told his wife’s family what he does for a living, he says, “Everybody at the picnic table stopped chewing their food and looked at me like I had an arm growing out of my head.”
Their reaction didn’t surprise him. You tend to expect more than an arched eyebrow when people find out you’re the U.S. director of Frontiers USA, an organization whose sole purpose is to invite Muslims to follow Jesus.
Speaking at the first College of Theology Ministry Forum on Monday in Howerton Hall, Blincoe delivered an engaging and passionate talk about why he does what he does in the face of seemingly overwhelming odds.
Frontiers, he said, “started as a protest movement” more than 30 years ago to bring the Gospel to a population in which nearly nine of 10 people have never even met a Christian. The group has more than 1,000 missionaries in Muslim communities around the world, but Blincoe said there still are “great swaths of the Muslim world where there are no workers.”
Given the state of world events, a logical question would be “Why try?”
Blincoe pointed to what has happened in South Korea, where early missionaries often were killed by the largely Buddhist population and which as recently as 1945 was only 2 percent Christian. “The word from the missionaries was that there was no hope they (the Koreans) would ever accept the word of God,” he said.
Now Christmas is a national holiday in South Korea, Pope Francis went there last month and more than one-quarter of the 50 million people there are Christian. Blincoe believes the same can happen in Muslim countries.
“That’s where I want to make my stand with Jesus Christ,” he said.
Blincoe’s view of the current conflict is that even as the Islamic State has gotten a foothold in Syria and Iraq, “The Muslim world is showing its fractures. It’s a question of ‘Who’s the strongest horse?’ That’s a very important symbol in Muslim culture, and ISIS looks like the strongest horse to some people.”
Blincoe believes that the United States’ attempt to form a coalition of Arab countries against ISIS eventually will prove effective — but it will take awhile. “This is going to be an issue for a long, long time,” he said.
Frontiers teaches its workers to blend in with the population and get to know the people and their culture. Blincoe said that during his nine years as a missionary he found the most unifying conversation topic was family.
“Muslims are very family-oriented,” he said. “The best way to show we have something in common is to show them a picture of your extended family.”
Muslims make up 23 percent of the world’s population, but the Frontiers USA website says, “There are 1,108 Muslim people groups who don’t know Jesus Christ. By partnering with churches and passionate people, our hope is that by 2025 that number will have fallen to zero.”
It is estimated that fewer than 1 percent of Muslims have answered the call to follow Jesus, according to Frontiers USA. But just as that number has risen dramatically in South Korea, Blincoe believes the percentage will grow in the Muslim world as well.
“Wherever Christ goes,” he said, “you find transformation.”
The next Ministry Forum is scheduled for Monday, Oct. 6. The guest speakers will be Palmer Chinchen and Josh Havens of The Barefoot Tribe Gathering, a conference sponsored The Grove in Chandler designed to inspire Christians to engage issues of justice, sustainability, art, compassion and austerity.
To find out more about Frontiers USA, go to www.frontiersusa.org.
Contact Rick Vacek at 602-639-8203 or [email protected].