Usman’s life goal was to plant a hundred mosques in South-eastern Malawi. And as a Muslim leader among the Yaos, he was making good progress towards his goal until one day. Through a series of spiritual encounters and restlessness of heart, Usman began asking questions from Christians and decided that only Jesus can save. Today he is focused on planting as many churches as the number of mosques that he planted in the past.
Seasons of Harvest
Usman’s is just one of the many stories of how God is drawing Muslims to Christ. Even though there have always been Muslims getting saved, there has never been a time like what we have seen in the past 20 years where Muslims are coming to Christ in phenomenal numbers. For example, a recent research by David Garrison accounted for 69 movements (movement referring to 1,000 baptised believers or 100 new churches within a Muslim community) that had started in the past 15 years. Compare this to the fact that there has been ‘virtually no voluntary movements of converts to Christianity in the first 12 centuries of Islam’.
One example of these movements is what is happening among the majority Muslim Koti people of Nampula Province, in northern Mozambique. The Kotis were, until recently, considered unreachable by many believers who had come in contact with them. And only a handful of them were Christians. But in 1998, a new movement ‘Tarikhi ya Haakhi’ (which means ‘way of truth’ in the eKoti language) started which initially saw hundreds and then thousands of Muslim Kotis turn to Christ.
It is difficult to have an accurate picture of all that the Spirit of God is doing among Muslims because in many cases Muslim Background Believers (MBB – a term used for Muslims who turn to Christ) have to stay secret believers for fear of their lives. Researchers however estimate the number of MBBs in the past 15 years to be between 2 and 7 million. Many believe that these numbers are under-estimated. What is clear is, as Garrison says, ‘we are living in the midst of the greatest turning of Muslims to Christ in history’.
Jihadists and Scarecrows
Of course I know that the general response of many Christians to Muslims is fear. Our daily news is filled with the atrocities of ISIS and Boko Haram. Yet I sincerely believe that this new swell of radical fundamentalist Islamic movements across the globe is a mere scarecrow, attempting to scare us away from seeing and getting behind what God is doing among Muslims. Indeed the atrocities of these radical movements are among the reasons why some Muslims are getting turned off by Islam and are now open to the Gospel.
We are so blessed to be in a city like Durban with a large population of Muslims. Our heart must be filled with faith to engage our Muslim neighbours in love because God is at work. Our vision must be inspired by this faith to trust God to send more missionaries into the Muslim nations.
What Attracts Muslims To Christ?
In closing I would like to look at some of the ways God draws Muslims to Christ, and to learn what works best in reaching them. A recent global research by the Fuller Theological Seminary’s School of World Mission sought to find out from a wide range of MBBs from 39 countries and over 50 ethnic groups, why they have come to the Lord. Here is a list of their findings (and my comments) arranged in the order of responses with the highest frequency:
- Assurance of Salvation: Islam is a religion of works, and offers no assurance of salvation. One of the most useful conversations I have with Muslims is to ask them what assurance they have of being saved after this life, and after listening to them, sharing with them the assurance I have in Christ.
- The attraction of the Person of Jesus: For example the fact that He does not seek revenge.
- The Bible: God has saved many Muslims just by them reading the New Testament.
- Dreams and visions: Over 25% of respondents. Muslims believe in dreams and visions, so God uses these. Once I was able to bring the Gospel to a lady on a Muslim island because God had prepared her heart through a dream. In northern Nigeria an entire Muslim village came to Christ because a dream opened them up to listen to the missionaries. Pray for dreams from God.
- Love: From believers and a revelation of God’s love.
- The possibility of a personal relationship with God: Over 10% of respondents. Share stories of your walk with Christ.
It is harvest time among Muslims. Let’s cast away fear, and through love and prayer. reach out to them.