I (Joe) have been interested in Christian Apologetics since high school. Apologetics is a branch of theology focused on providing evidence for the Christian faith. I studied different world religions in order to understand their arguments against Christianity. Islam was just one of many religious world views I was familiar with. Several years ago I enrolled in a graduate program at Biola University to complete my formal education in Christian Apologetics. After three years of study, I received my MA in Christian Apologetics.
I had always thought I was going to retire from my career and become a missionary to Mormons. I would frequently engage Mormons in chat rooms and online forums, and as I did I was overwhelmed with a sense of joy that this is what God wanted me to do full time some day. But during my studies at Biola, I began to study Islam in depth. I read the Quran from cover to cover. I read the earliest biographies of Muhammad. I read many major early Islamic scholars and other source material. And the more I studies Islam, the more I came to realize that Islam was the greatest lie that has ever been perpetrated upon mankind, and today is responsible for misleading 1.8 Billion people worldwide. We began to seek the Lord if this is what He would have us focus on, rather than Mormonism.
In 2005 I began to realize the magnitude of deception in Islam and the lack of response of the church to this deception. That year I taught my first class on Islam to a church group.
In fall 2006 we began praying about our full time involvement in Muslim ministry to train the church in reaching out to Muslims and reaching out to Muslims ourselves. I woke up one morning and told Christine I had an overwhelming urge to turn in my resignation that day at work. It was Wednesday, September 13, 2006. Her response was that she agreed, but that we would first have to get our financial house in order. We had a mortgage, car payments, insurance, and all the stuff of the world hanging over our heads. She said God had not confirmed it with her yet, and until He did, she could not agree for me to quit my job. I agreed with her and began praying for God to confirm it with her.
That night we were to attend a prayer meeting for another ministry, but by the grace of God could not find out where to go, so we ended up at our home church. Our pastor was out of town and a guest speaker was teaching. Gayle Irwin taught on Luke 9:59-62, where Jesus calls some people to follow him. One man said "Let me first go and bury my father." Gayle commented that the man did not say "My father is dead", rather what he was saying was in effect, "Let me get my financial affairs in order (wait until my father dies and secure my inheritance), then I will follow you." This was the exact comment Christine had used that morning. When she heard Gayle, she quickly grabbed a piece of paper, scribbled a few words on it, and handed it to me. It said, "Quit your job!" God had answered my prayer that same day through scripture and another person!
Over the next several weeks He also confirmed our mission. People walked up to us at church with a word of knowledge about trusting in the Lord wherever He leads and whatever He calls us to do, even they knew nothing of our prayers or desire for confirmation of our calling. Others shared dreams that they had about us taking a leap of faith and trusting God's hand to be there to support us.
January 5, 2007 was my last day of work at Southern California Edison. I left behind a six figure salary and excellent benefits, sold our home and most of our possessions, used the proceeds of our home to pay off our debt, and now live on less than one fourth of our prior income. I say this for no other reason than to give thanks and praise to God who has promised to sustain us, and He has been faithful to do so.
If you had told me ten years ago that I would be quitting my job to go into full time ministry to Muslims, I would have called you a nut! Nothing was further from my mind, but God had other plans.
It took my wife years to convince me that my spiritual gift was teaching. I remember vividly standing in front of my coworkers at SCE to give a short presentation and I was overcome with fright. I locked up! Being able to stand in front of a group of people and teach for two hours at a time is not my natural gift. It is purely supernatural! It is the Holy Spirit enabling me to do what He has called me to. It is only by His power and grace that I can do what I do for ministry.
I thank the Lord for what He has enabled us to do. I claim no ability of my own. I also thank Him for clearly confirming our calling. It has not been easy; we have had our times of trials, wondering how we were going to survive the month with not enough money for food, sustaining attacks from the enemy on us and our children, and even enduring attacks from other believers who have come against our ministry and tried to shut us down! But God is faithful! He has provided every need, and we lack nothing.
Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desire of your heart. Psalm 37:4
Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will direct your paths. Proverbs 3:5-6
And if it seems evil to you to serve the Lord, choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve ... But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord. Joshua 24:15
Soli Deo Gloria!