When Jeremy Courtney went out as a missionary to the Middle East, the Holy Spirit rebuked him.
Courtney founded Preemptive Love, a global humanitarian organization, with a plan to save Muslims after the terror attacks on Sept. 11, 2001.
But "I had a conquering spirit about me," Courtney tells Taylor Berglund on the "Charisma News" podcast. "I was essentially joining up in the war on terror. ... What I know about my own heart is that I wanted to conquer Muslims. I wanted a world with no more Muslims. I wanted a world with no more Islam."
But one day Courtney was on his face in prayer, asking God why he wasn't winning more Muslims to Christ. That's when he heard an inner voice rebuke him:
"I heard this word that said, 'Because you don't love them, Jeremy. That's why I'm not doing anything through you. Because you don't love them. You love to be right. You love to be thought well of. You love for people to think that you're this bombastic, Pauline-style, get-kicked-out-of-the-temples apostolic missionary and evangelist. But you don't love Muhammad, the Muslim sitting on the other side of the table from you. You love Muhammad, the former Muslim, the guy you could make into a Christian who's now a notch in your belt, but you don't love Muhammad the Muslim, period.'"
Courtney realized he only loved Muslims if they became Christians. But that wasn't the kind of love Jesus was calling him to.
"I came into their land looking to change them," he says. "I came into their land with an oppressive spirit looking to dominate their way of life, looking to dominate their faith, dominate their worldview. ... And as they chose to love me anyway, it melted my heart. ... I was seeking revenge for Sept. 11, [but] it softened my hard heart."
Courtney's spiritual revelation taught him how to love Muslims for who they are, not who he wanted them to be.
"[That love] turned me into a person who is now ready to lay my life on the line for people who are different from me so they would be able to live in a more just, equitable, fair world," he says. "So that war would not destroy them anymore. I would now love them anyway; I could accept our differences and love them anyway."
Listen to the podcast to hear how this new approach transformed Courtney's mission work in the Middle East.
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