By Rex Butler, NOBTS
Toward the end of the Crusades, after two hundred years of conflict between Christendom and Islam, a Christian stepped forward with a new plan for approaching Muslims – not with the sword, but with the Gospel. Raymond Lull, considered the first western missionary to the Muslims, wrote, “It is my belief, O Christ, that the conquest of the Holy Land should be attempted in no other way than as Thou and Thy apostles undertook to accomplish it – by love, by prayer, by tears, and the offering up of our own lives” (Contemplation of God). Ultimately, Lull did offer up his life as a martyr in North Africa.
Lull (also spelled “Llull” or “Lully”) was born to a wealthy family in Majorca, Spain, in 1232, just a few years after it was liberated from Muslim rule. Because of his excellent education, Lull obtained a position in the royal household and married a relative of the king, Blanca Picany, with whom he had two children. Despite his marriage and position, however, he traveled about as a licentious troubadour, composing and singing love songs.
In his young thirties, Lull was converted to faith in Christ by an unusual experience. As noted in his autobiography, Lull amorously pursued a married woman, who did not return his affections. After making a fool of himself by following her on horseback into a church, the young lady came to him privately and, with dignity, bared her breast to him. Shocked that it was diseased by cancer, Lull saw in her disfigurement the corruption of his own lusts.