Earlier this month I was in Dakar, the capital of Senegal, in West Africa, teaching teachers at Dakar Academy, a remarkable school with a dedicated staff and extraordinary students, living under harsh desert conditions. The school was started fifty years ago to provide Christian education for children of missionaries. Today, other expatriates in Dakar send their children to Dakar Academy also, including the US Ambassador to Senegal.
Dakar reminded me that if Jesus had never been born, I would be a Muslim, most likely. And probably you would be too.
Why do I say this? Because shortly after the death of Mohammad in 632 A.D., Muslim forces spread Islam westward from Saudi Arabia across North and West Africa (which explains why Senegal is about 90% Muslim today), and later set their sights on Europe. I say Muslim "forces," because if the "infidels" did not convert, they could find their heads being detached from their bodies.
The European expansion of Islam was stopped at the gates of Vienna by Jan Sobieski, King of Poland, who answered the call of Pope Innocent XI to save the city and the rest of Central Europe. Sobieski arrived with an army of 40,000 Poles, Germans and Austrians on the evening of September 11, 1683. Many think Osama Bin Laden's choice of September 11 for his attack on the United States was no coincidence. He was sending a message to us and to the West: "We're baaaaAAAAAAAaack!"
If Islamic forces had not been repelled at the Battle of Vienna, in response to the Pope's call [and funding], my great-great-great-great grandparents in Germany would most likely have been Muslim [had they lived]. If Christ had not been born, not only would Joy To The World have never been written, and Bach would have had a different profession, and Johnny Cash would not have recorded Hurt, I dare say all of Europe, perhaps the entire Western Hemisphere, would be taking Fridays off today, rather than Sundays. Think what this would mean for you, your family and for history.
While in Dakar, I was also reminded of how one dedicated follower of Christ changed the course of history through a different kind of force: courageous Christian love. I was reminded of the work of William Wilberforce, member of British Parliament, some 200 years ago. What connection did I make with Wilberforce in Dakar?
Next: The Door of No Return.