The Persecution of the First Missionary and Martyr to Muslims

His name sounds like he could lull you to sleep, but Ramon Llull is more of a lion than a lamb. He reached out to North Africa, faced persecution, and later became a martyr for his faith.

Raised as a courtesan in the mid-1200’s on Spain’s Majorca island (or called Mallorca), the Lord called Ramon to be a light and witness to Muslims during a time when Christian Europe had been at war with the Arabic world for 150 years.

This tumultuous period of the Crusades threw a dark and painful cloud over Western relationships with the Muslim world.  These cultures collided in such a brutal fashion that hatreds burned deep and over a million were killed.

In the midst of the chaos, Ramon Llull received a vision five separate times of Christ suspending on the cross.

The Lord inspired this young man, who was more focused at the time on finding courtly love, to call him to reach Muslims with reason and faith and not the sword.

Responding to God’s call, Ramon immersed himself into his studies by learning Arabic. He spent 9 years seeking to understand Arabic culture, history, and philosophy.

Llull started a missionary school in order to communicate the context and culture of the Muslim world to developing leaders.  He wrote lengthy treatises to connect the Christian faith as rational and to unite natural sciences, theology, philosophy and art.

Persecution of the Early Church

Persecution of the Early Church

In 1293, Ramon Llull made his first missionary trip to the African coast of Tunis.  He met to debate and to engage with Islamic scholars as to reveal the hope of Jesus.  While there, he was beaten, imprisoned, persecuted and sentenced to death.  After the emir commuted his sentence, he returned home.

Later returning for a second trip in 1304 and then finally a third trip in 1315, Llull continued to share his faith in Christ and his love for the Tunisians.   He was met with fierce opposition and stoned by a persecuting angry mob who rejected the message.  He died on the return voyage home.

Ramon Llull is not a household name in missionary matters, but certainly should be.  His legacy is not just in missions, but also in mathematics and prolific writings.  He paved the way for Arabic to be an ongoing language of learning in universities in Europe.

Without question, his timeless story of persecution stands as a reminder of the relentless pursuit of Christ for a broken world that’s fallen without Him.

SOM International Making an Impact in North Africa

In closing, let’s pray for the Holy Spirit to mature Christ-centered leaders in our SOM North Africa church. In addition, pray for the planting of schools to spread the message of the gospel to Northwest Africa.

Moreover, pray for the Lord to soften the hearts of Muslims to receive the peace of Christ.