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Bells of Opportunity

What are Christian leaders to do in a world where churches and mosques stand side-by-side?
Ronald Reagan's memorial was among the greatest ceremonies in American history. When the service concluded, I was deeply saddened, but at the same time awed. I needed to think, so I slowly walked to Massachusetts Avenue in Washington, D.C., a stretch of several blocks of foreign embassies also known as Embassy Row.

The glorious buildings reminded me of America's role as a defender of freedom as the air reverberated with the ringing bells of the cathedral honoring President Reagan.

As I proceeded down the street, I heard another distinct sound--a Muslim call to prayer. Behind me were the bells from a Christian cathedral, in front of me was the call to Islamic prayer. As I continued to walk, I saw a large mosque. People were coming from all directions to pray.

America is changing. From where I stood I could hear both cultures calling, as if one sound were going directly into my right ear, and one into my left. I stood directly between a Muslim mosque calling its people to prayer and a Christian cathedral mourning the passing of a great defender of freedom.

The impact was profound. I knew that this was the picture of the world in conflict: the clash of civilizations, conflicting faiths, values and spiritual powers. And we're standing in the middle while the world is deciding which will have dominant influence in the future.

To me and you, the choice is obvious. But on that day, I realized that the two sounds are in competition, and, for many, the right decision will not be so clear.

So, where does that leave us? What are Christian leaders to do in a world where Christian churches and Islamic mosques are side-by-side?

In this pivotal hour, our apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers must have a greater depth of understanding.

Our generation must be authentic. We must understand power and influence. We must be credible. We must earn the right to be heard. Our leaders must serve people from the same inner compulsion that drove the history makers throughout the ages.

The bell that day tolled opportunity. We are living in a window of time that affords us tremendous inroads to advance the kingdom of God. Hundreds of millions of people around the world are awakening to their soul's decision as the winds of freedom continue to blow.

In response, we need real apostles--ones who are actually sent--to establish effective works on these frontiers. Authentic apostles who go to the darkest areas of the world, perform signs and wonders and plant churches as a permanent beachhead for the gospel.

We need authentic prophets who fear God and know truth, honesty and integrity. Prophets who reflect biblical and historical insight with a depth of character that propels their words into the consciences of millions.

We need genuine evangelists who are compelled to reach the lost at any cost, fully consumed by the finality of hell and the love of heaven.

We need legitimate pastors and teachers who are committed to preparing God's people for works of service. Committed to discipleship, empowerment, encouragement and discipline. Devoted to cooperating with the Holy Spirit to complete the work He is doing.

The call to prayer from the mosque is not only our reminder of opportunity but also our exhortation to caution. For those who call from the mosques are thoroughly genuine, deeply committed and methodically trained. Our leaders should be no less so.

Their leaders are not enamored with titles, motivated by wealth or contented with mediocrity. They are unwilling not to win. If we do not deepen our convictions in this crucial hour, we will lose millions of people.

The only conclusion that is foregone is that one day Jesus will return. How the kingdom lines are drawn on that day--and how many are heading for heaven, and how many are heading for hell--is very much in the balance.

Simply put, this is our moment in history. Churches on one corner, mosques on the other. It's our choice.

Ted Haggard pastors New Life Church in Colorado Springs, Colorado. He is the author of many books and is the president of the National Association of Evangelicals.

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