I want to tell you about an exciting new book called A Wind in the House of Islam. David Garrison, the author and a Southern Baptist missionary, traveled around the world recording Muslim people movements to Christ. He defines a people movement as 100 new church starts or 1000 baptisms over a two decade period.
Garrison interviewed Christians from a Muslim background to discover what led to their conversions, and he also compared that to the historical record. I won’t go into further details about the methodology of the study but here is the important part:
- In the first 12 centuries of the existence of Islam on the world stage, there were no movements to Christ, only a few forced conversions.
- At the end of the 19th century there were two people movements to Christ, an Indonesian movement and an Ethiopian movement.
- By the end of the 20th century, there were 13 movements to Christ, in places such as Algeria and Bangladesh.
- In the 21st century, covering just 12 years, there were 69 movements to Jesus Christ among Muslim people groups. Remember that is 100 new church starts or 1000 recorded baptisms in a two decade period.
Sixty-nine movements to Jesus Christ–clearly God is doing something today in the Muslim world, and we in the North American church are only now becoming aware of it.
What is causing this to happen? Considering that there were so few people movements over the centuries since Muhammad’s death in 632 – why now? What has changed? How is the Holy Spirit working?
I won’t give you all the reasons – I have to leave you with a reason to read the book – but let me give you a few.
First, the Holy Spirit is living and active. Many Muslims are having dreams and visions of Jesus. Muhammad himself endorsed the value of dreams, so Muslims are open to dreams and take them seriously. Jesus tells us in John 3 that the wind blows wherever it pleases. The Holy Spirit is that wind blowing through the House of Islam. It is even recorded that some Imams (Muslim religious leaders) have come to faith just from reading the Quran and how it portrays Isa (Jesus) with respect and honor.
Second, war and internal divisions, especially between the two main groups of Muslims, Sunnis and Shias, is causing Muslims to re-think their faith in the face of so much pain. They are turning to Jesus and his example as a man of peace (and in fact the Prince of Peace). Muslims have also been impressed by the faithful witness of Christians and their ability to forgive as Jesus commanded.
Third, we are living in a time of technological change. Bible translation is progressing faster due to new software that helps translators compare texts and compile dictionaries. Radio programs can be beamed around the world and internet programs can reach into many closed countries. Despite efforts by countries like Iran to block signals and put up fake Christian websites, many people are learning about the message of Jesus through these technologies.
Fourth, Muslims are rubbing shoulders with Bible believing Christians and many of the misconceptions that Muslims have traditionally held about Christians are being unmasked. In the 19th and even 20th centuries, the western world was considered the Dar al Harb or House of War. Muslims were afraid to immigrate to the west and preferred to remain in the Dar al Islam, or the House of Islam. Increasingly Muslims are immigrating to Canada and the United States, and we have new opportunities to reach out to Muslims. The wonderful thing about this diaspora ministry is that Muslims who become followers of Jesus keep their relational networks - they can influence people back in their home countries for Christ. What a great thing to have Iranians reaching Iranians and Iraqis reaching Iraqis.
So be encouraged today. The Holy Spirit is at work. Commit to praying for a Muslim ministry. Give your financial support to a ministry among Muslims. Learn more about Islam. For more information go to www.crcna.org/salaam.