This is wonderful encouraging news. Praise God for what the Holy Spirit is doing among Muslims
Missiologist Dave Garrison documents global surge in Muslims leading Muslims to Christ. He calls it, “Unprecedented.”
Muslim background believers are leading Muslims to Christ in staggering numbers, but not in the West. They are doing this primarily in Muslim-majority nations almost completely under the radar—of everyone. In the new book, A Wind in the House of Islam: How God is Drawing Muslims Around the World to Faith in Jesus Christ, Garrison takes the reader on his journey through what he describes as the nine rooms in the Muslim-majority world: Indo-Malaysia, East Africa, North Africa, Eastern South Asia, Western South Asia, Persia, Turkestan, West Africa, and the Arab world. Muslims in each of those regions have created indigenous, voluntary movements to Christ
“What did God use to bring you to faith in Jesus Christ? Tell me your story.” This was the core question Garrison asked as he traveled and conducted more than 1,000 face-to-face interviews. In his background research, he documented 82 historic Muslim movements to Christ, consisting of either at least 1,000 baptisms or 100 new church starts over a two-decade period. The first sizable movement of Muslims toward Christianity did not occur until the mid-19th century, nearly 1,300 years after Mohammad established Islam. Garrison said 69 of these movements today are still in process:
• In Algeria, after 100,000 died in Muslim-on-Muslim violence, 10,000 Muslims turned their backs on Islam and were baptized as followers of Christ. This movement has tripled since the late 1990s.
• At the time of the 1979 revolution in Iran, about 500 individual Muslims were following Christ. Garrison projects that today there may be several hundred thousand Christ-followers, mostly worshipping in Iranian house churches.
• In an unnamed Arab nation, an Islamic book publisher Nasr came to Christ through satellite broadcast evangelist Father Zakaria. Sensing a call to evangelize, Nasr started a local ministry that in less than one year baptized 2,800 individuals.
In total, Garrison estimates that 2 to 7 million people from a Muslim background worldwide now follow Christ. (This is a projection since a comprehensive count is not possible.) Timothy C. Morgan, CT senior editor, global journalism, interviewed Garrison recently:
You’ve spent your professional life in missions. Why undertake 30 months of grueling travel to remote parts of the Muslim world that you already visited?
This really marks an unprecedented turning to Christ. I don’t think it’s ever been captured in a global sweep as it has been here.
I’ve been involved in missions for 29 years. When my wife and I were working with Libyan Arabs in North Africa, we learned a lot of ways not to effectively win Muslims to Christ. But then we started seeing these movements. The numbers began to grow over the years. We found ourselves living in India for six years. I was director of Southern Baptist work in South Asia. We were able to see many of these Muslims who had come to Christ, to know them personally, and partner with them. We knew two men, one named Islam and the other named Mohammed, doing mosque-to-mosque evangelism. They were distributing Jesus films and New Testaments in the mosques. They saw a lot of Muslims come to Christ.
My colleagues approached me and said, “We’re hearing more and more anecdotes of Muslim movements to Christ, and some of them we feel are legitimate. We need someone to go and find out.”
They said, “We want Christians to see the potential that every Muslim has to be a Christ follower and a brother or sister in Christ.” That began the process.
Your book is filled with insights about how Muslims view Jesus, Christianity, and the church. But how did your encounters with Muslims change you personally?
I’ve traveled to 100 countries over the years. The thing that changed me, as I look back on it, was finding that the living Christ has already been in these places.
I was hearing from Muslim-background believers that they had met Jesus. Sometimes we as Christians feel we take Jesus to people. What we forget sometimes is that we’re attesting to a living Christ who continues to break into people’s lives, into their dreams, into their visions, and into their prayers.
Jesus answers those prayers, and he meets with them, and it shakes them up. From West Africa, North Africa, the Middle East, South Asia, Central Asia, Indonesia, I met people whose lives had been shaken and rattled by their encounter with Christ. They were not persuaded by logical doctrine or a better civilization, but by that encounter with the living Son of God who changed their life and world. They can’t go back to life as usual.
That changed me. I had my own faith renewed. We serve a living God, a living Christ, and a living Lord.
If the gospel has already taken root in these mostly Muslim nations, how should we reshape our mission?
These things didn’t happen by magic. Even Saul of Tarsus heard the testimony of Stephen before he was struck down by a vision. People have flickers and glimmers of Christ—through a radio broadcast, Scripture distribution, or overhearing some Christian.
They get haunted. They look into their Qur’an and they see references to Jesus. In the Hadith, they hear stories about Jesus. Many people I interviewed said, “I loved Jesus from the time I was a little child.”
It didn’t mean that they got the gospel. What it did mean is that they got a predilection toward Christ. Something prepared their hearts. When they did hear the gospel, they said, “Yes
I talked to an Iranian man—kind of a thug. He had been in the black market. He was a hustler. But he said, “I was drawn to the cross.” He said, “I had a cross ring. I had a cross necklace.” He had a t-shirt that said, “I did this for you” with a big cross.
He said, “I had no clue what it meant, but I was drawn to the cross.” A friend came and started telling him about Jesus. His heart just melted and he invited Christ into his life. He left that illicit business and eventually became a refugee. Because of his faith, he was pushed out of the country.
Christ draws people to himself. The Holy Spirit will convict the world. That’s not the same thing as proclaiming the gospel to them. That is our role. But it’s nice to know that there’s an advance card out there bringing people to conviction. We’re not alone.
Forget this idea that it’s all up to us.
The truth is we are brave and courageous because we’re going into the heart of darkness. But isn’t it nice to know that the light penetrated the darkness first. When Jesus sent out the 72, he said, “I am sending you out like lambs among wolves. Do not take a purse or bag or sandals; and do not greet anyone on the road. When you enter a house say, ‘Peace to this house.’ If someone who promotes peace is there, your peace will rest on them; if not, it will return to you.” (Luke 10:3-6, NIV) Everywhere you go, you’re going to find persons who are waiting for you. That’s true in the Muslim world as well as other parts of the world.
How important are one-on-one relationships in Muslim outreach?
In East Africa, I talked with Elias, a wonderful cultural guide, who took me into a number of Muslim movements. His own initiation into being a Muslim evangelist came from Abdul-Ahad, a sheik from Mogadishu, Somalia. The sheik had been involved in drug running, prostitution, and extortion. He ended up as a refugee and met Elias.
One night, the sheik showed up at the home of Elias and said, “Yes or no—Jesus’ blood can wash away the sins of the world?”
Elias said, “Yes, it can.”
The sheik replied, “That’s a lie because he could never wash away all my sins. I’ve done terrible things.”
Elias said to him, “If you and I agree tonight, then God will forgive you.” He prayed with him and the sheik was saved at that moment. But before he left, the sheik took Alias by the arm and said, “You know when you see people like me with the beard and with the prayer-skull cap, you stay away from us because you’re afraid of us.”
He said, “The truth is we want you to be afraid of us.” He said, “But when you see people like me you need to know that we’re empty and we’re lost.”
Elias told me, “That was my Macedonian call. From then on I never saw Muslims the same way again.”
But many American Christians have this fear response about personal interaction with Muslims. What can be done?
I often see anger and hatred. We’ve had deacons and church leaders say we ought to just bomb them to hell. The sad thing is this fear is grounded in reality. You’ve got 14 centuries in which tens of millions, perhaps hundreds of millions, of Christians have been gobbled up into the world of Islam. It makes communism look like just a cheap parlor trick. Communism came and went in a century.
When we Christians ignore social injustice, we invite Islam to come in. When we imitate Islam (as we did in the Crusades) by making Christian jihad, we strengthen Islam.
In many places, Islam was comatose until the European colonials came in. When we came, they had something to preach against in the mosque. That galvanized the people and expanded Islam in ways that wouldn’t have been possible had we not given them a reason to wake up.
One reason Muslims are responding today is [their new situation]. They are in independent nations. They don’t have colonial powers occupying them. As a result, they’re turned in on themselves. They don’t get along very well with one another. Several of the big movements that we’ve seen across the Muslim world coincide with Muslim-on-Muslim violence, horrible violence like in Algeria, Bangladesh, or Indonesia.
Continue Reading Here