With the threat from radical Islamsists looming over the world, one missionary claims that more Muslims are turning to Christianity than ever before.
Missionary David Garrison’s book, A Wind in the House of Islam, charts this phenomenon, which he says demonstrates that “we are living in the midst of the greatest turning of Muslims to Christ in history”.
The book is the result of two and a half years of research and involved travelling more than 250,000 miles to conduct interviews with more than 1,000 people around the Muslim world. In the study, a ‘movement’ of believers is defined as a group of more than 1,000 baptised believers or 100 new churches within a Muslim community. In total he found 69 movements that had started in the first 12 years of the 21st century, in comparison with virtually no voluntary movements of converts to Christianity in the first 12 centuries of Islam.
Garrison, who has been a missionary pioneer with the the Southern Baptist International Mission Board for nearly 30 years, told Christian Today that he started out with a “healthy scepticism” about the number of new believers, imagining that the figures might be have been over-estimated. Instead, he found that numbers were often vastly under-reported.
“What is exciting is not just how big the movements are…but how many of these movements there are now and that they’re not limited to one corner of the world, but we’re seeing them from West Africa to Indonesia, and virtually everywhere in between,” he says.
Muslims who convert seem to be willing to face the persecution that awaits them. To what does Garrison attribute this phenomenon?
God has brought several elements together uniquely in our time,” he says. “Some of them are old elements – Muslim violence is not new, this is one of the least violent centuries in Muslim history – but what’s different is today when Muslims experience this violence, they can see an alternative… they can switch on their Internet, they can turn on their television and hear an evangelist speaking Farsi or Kazakh or Uzbek.”
It’s also the combination of Bible translation alongside the potential for multimedia evangelism and the growth of international travel that appears to have facilitated this change. “It’s a great day that God seems to be orchestrating for this to happen.”
Garrison also points out that Christians who wish to see their Muslim neighbors in the West come to faith in Jesus have their own hurdles.
Although “the tide is turning”, he points out that it’s happening “over there”. Another challenge for the Western Church, therefore, is to be a part of this change, both locally and globally – through reaching out to Muslim neighbours, and being prepared to take the gospel to unreached communities abroad.
In order for this to happen, he says Christians need to stop fearing Muslims. “This is not the day to fear, fight, hate or kill Muslims… This is their day of salvation. God loves them – if you want to be on God’s side in this day, be a part of what God’s doing.”