044: How is God at Work in the Muslim World Today?
Jan 23, 2017David Garrison shares with us the exciting work that God is doing in the Muslim world, drawing many to Himself in unprecedented numbers, and he gives us some practical first steps in how we can participate in this wonderful movement.
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David is the author of a book called, A Wind in the House of Islam: How God is Drawing Muslims Around the World to Faith in Christ. For more than 30 years he has been a missionary pioneer. His focus has been global strategy with assignments spanning much of what has been called the 10/40 Window.
David has a PhD from the University of Chicago and a Master’s degree from Golden Gate Seminary.
David lives with his wife of 37 years, Sonia, in Colorado, where he serves as the executive director of Global Gates. Global Gates is reaching the ends of the earth through global gateway cities.
What led you to this topic and how did you go about your research?
- I’ve always been passionate about the Great Commission – that’s part of being a missionary. The largest single block of people that make up the unfinished task are Muslims. There are nearly 1.7 Muslims in the world today.
- When I began hearing reports of how Muslims were coming in unprecedented numbers to Christ, I had to know more about it.
In this book, you talk about different rooms, as opposed to one house. What do you mean by rooms?
- The House of Islam is a term that grew out of the 8th Century
- What I discovered about the House of Islam is that the Muslim world is not a monolith – it’s very diverse. There are thousands of distinct cultures and languages within the house of Islam and if we treat them all the same, we might miss out on the lessons God has for us.
- West Africa, North Africa, the Arab world, East Africa, the Persian room, Turkistan, Western South Asia, Eastern South Asia, and finally the Indo-Malaysian comprise the 9 different rooms of Islam. To see a map, click here.
- Each room’s response to the Gospel have been different – so I asked “How is God at work in each room?”
The largest single block of people that make up the unfinished task are Muslims. There are nearly 1.7 Muslims in the world today.
Would you quickly trace the history of Islam, soon after the time of Mohammed, to Muslims becoming Christians?
- Church history can be a little boring, but I was finding so many fascinating things as I looked at the history of Islam.
- What was astounding as I traced over 14 centuries of Christianity and how it interacted with Islam, what was striking was how few movements of Muslims coming to Christ there is.
- There have been centuries of conflict, fighting, Islamic expansions, until today. In the last 20-25 years, we’ve seen more Muslims come to Christ than in the whole history of Islam.
- God is doing in our day that is unprecedented and there’s nothing even close to it in the history of Muslim/Christian interaction.
What do you mean by ‘movement’?
- A movement is at least 1,000 baptisms that take place within a Muslim people group – an ethnolinguistic community. In 20 years or less, there’s been at least 1,000 baptisms and we see this as unprecedented. In some of these movements there have even been 100,000 baptisms.
- It has internal momentum.
- In the Muslims world, this means being willing to die as it is a capital offense to be baptized as a follower of Christ.
In the last 20-25 years, we’ve seen more Muslims come to Christ than in the whole history of Islam.
What were some of the things you began to discover that contributed to these increased movements?
- I was intent on hearing from them from their own testimonies – how is God at work? What did He use to bring you to Christ?
- Some of the things that emerged were:
- Prayer – we talk about 30 Days of Prayer for the Muslims world, an annual campaign where thousands of Christians are praying for the Muslim world.
- Intentional Evangelism – when you look at the history of Christian/Muslim interaction, Christians more often fought with the Muslims, rather than taking the Gospel to them. It has really been in the last 50 years that the Christian world has intentionally said that God’s desire is that no one should perish and we must take the Gospel to Muslims.
- Better Communications – podcasts, radio broadcasts, satellite television, the Jesus Film are getting the Gospel deep into places that have been restricted from gospel witness for centuries.
- Contextualized Scriptures – getting the Bible into a language that Muslims understand. Muslims have a high rate of illiteracy and so audio and video Scriptures.
- The Role of the Holy Spirit – He has moved through visions and dreams that have moved Muslims to seeking out who Jesus is.
- Islam Itself Contains the Seeds of its Own Destruction – the nature and character of Mohammed himself – as Muslims learned more about him, they realized there is no comparison between Mohammed and Christ.
- Violence in the Muslim World – they can’t believe that the violence could be God’s ideal.
- Reading of the Koran in their Heart Language – this allowed them to realize that they were lost. There is no plan of salvation in the Koran.
Set fear aside – if you have trouble with this, pray for them. As you pray for them, God will help you to see them as He sees them. God has Muslims near to His heart.
As we try to take practical lessons from this, what advice do you have for churches who are listening to this podcast, for first steps to take?
- Despite what you hear and see in the news, this is Muslims day of salvation. Never in history have Muslims been more dissatisfied with their own religion and culture.
- Set fear aside – if you have trouble with this, pray for them. As you pray for them, God will help you to see them as He sees them. God has Muslims near to His heart.
- Muslims now live in our neighborhoods. Millions of Muslims live in North America. God is providing us with an unparalleled opportunity to reach these immigrants with the Gospel of Christ. Today when they arrive, they call their family back on the other side of the world via Skype or phone and so when we reach Muslims here, we’re not just reaching them here, we’re reaching through them back to the ends of the earth.
Considering these movements, would you comment on the role of mission workers who have gone out from North America to engage with Muslim peoples? Looking forward, what role do you see for international workers in these days?
- Mission workers have been crucial. God has always been doing the heavy lifting, however his plan has always been to use us. When we are unfaithful and we don’t go, we don’t see results.
- God has one plan to reach the nations and that’s us.
- It’s tough going into the Muslim world – there are easier places to do missions – but going to the Muslim world is the most strategic and timely place to go.
Are there resources you’d recommend to our listeners who want to better engage with their Muslim friends and neighbors?
- Visit the 30 Days of Prayer website – 30daysprayer.com
- Any Three: Anyone, Anywhere, Anytime – Mike Shipman
- Encountering the World of Islam – there is a book, a course and a website
If our listeners would like to learn more from you, how can they watch for David Garrison?
- Visit our website. You can use the email link there to contact me.
- We would love to talk with you about how we can co-labor together to reach the Muslims in our spheres of influence.