When you hear about radical Islam, it's easy to think that Muslims are without hope. But then you'd be forgetting that all things are possible through Christ. During this week's broadcast, John Stonestreet welcomes Dr. David Garrison & Paul Filidis, to discuss how Jesus is drawing many Muslims in many countries to faith in Him, and how we can pray for these people.
Islam has attracted in the neighborhood of a billion people to its cause, but Muslims are not all impervious to the unique claims of Jesus Christ. Dr. David Garrison, Global Strategist for Evangelical Advance for the Southern Baptist International Mission Board, documents in a new book what God is doing to bring people to Christ out of the Islamic world. Entitled "A Wind in the House of Islam," the book paints a picture of a miraculous surge of conversions to Christ throughout "The House of Islam," a term coined by an 8th century Muslim jurist for all parts of the earth dominated by Muhammad's religion.
"In the last couple of decades," explains Garrison, "we began learning of more and more places in the Muslim world where Muslims are saying, 'We realize we didn't have salvation in Islam. We had no assurance of salvation, but we have found assurance of salvation in the person of Jesus Christ.'"
At first, the evidence for this flood of new converts was difficult to discern. But as time went on and the movements grew in size, the signs became impossible to ignore. After embarking on several years of research, Garrison says what started as clues and stories turns out to be a full-scale conquest by the Holy Spirit in the strongholds of Christianity's greatest rival faith.
"What initially began for me as rumors and anecdotes...led to a study three years ago, when a foundation approached me and said 'David, can you explore this, find out what's really going on and get to the bottom of it?' So I began what I didn't realize at the time would be a journey of quarter-million miles throughout the Muslim world gathering interviews specifically from movements. And by 'movements,' I mean there have been more than a thousand Muslims in a particular people group of community who have been baptized over a two-decade period. And what I thought were going to be twenty-five or so of these scattered across the Muslim world grew to be 82 movements that I could identify that we could historically document over the course of 14 centuries...The striking thing...was that 84 percent of those movements had happened within the last twenty years. This is historically unprecedented, it's stunning to learn."
Beginning with the simple question, "What did God use to bring you to faith in Christ?" Garrison says former Muslims from North Africa all the way to the Indo-Malaysian archipelago have shared accounts that can only be described as miraculous.
"The stories I have been told are just remarkable...Its is common for us to hear people speak of dreams and visions."
Garrison shares one historic example which set the pattern generations ago:
"One of the first movements took place in Ethiopia back in the late 19th century, where an Islamic Sheikh had a vision. His name was Sheikh Zacharias. He had a vision of Jesus, and troubling dreams. And because of this, he was led to a Swedish missionary bookstore, where he obtained a copy of the New Testament in his own language. He read it, found in it the full explanation of who Jesus was, and God's plan for salvation, and gave his life to Christ."
Sheikh Zacharias was quickly rejected by his Muslim countrymen and banished from the local mosque, but dedicated the rest of his life to evangelism and teaching. By the time he died in 1920, Zacharias had baptized over seven thousand new followers of Christ. And his story was just the beginning of a cascade which has accelerated in recent years.
Today, Garrison says that Muslims are embracing Christianity at a truly unprecedented rate. And he believes it's no coincidence. In fact, at about the time conversions began to soar, another movement had just been birthed in the West—one which Garrison and our second guest agree likely played a vital role in sparking light in the Muslim World.
Paul Filidis, founder of "Thirty Days of Prayer for the Muslim World," first felt led to call Christians to intercession for Muslims in 1992. Filidis, who encountered missionaries from the Youth With a Mission organization while backpacking across Afghanistan, made the group a permanent part of his life after his own conversion. And it was during a YWAM event in the Middle East that the he first discerned a powerful calling to pray for Muslims.
"In 1992 our international leaders met near the Red Sea, and it was just before Ramadan that year. And they felt [the need] to call Youth With a Mission to prayer for the Muslim world. It began very small. I jumped in right in the beginning...I had a burden to educate about Islam, and mobilize Christians, so it was an easy one to jump in. But I had no idea that this would go on and on, and that it would become such a strategic annual event as it has become since 9/11..."
This year's 30 Days of Prayer for the Muslim World" begins on June 28 and runs through July 27, coinciding with the Islamic holy month of Ramadan.
It's this outpouring of prayer for Muslims which Filidis believes God has used to spark large-scale exodus from Islam into Christianity.
There's no question that the Spirit is moving like a mighty wind, just as Jesus said He would in John 3. Our prayers are vital, and they're helping draw countless souls to the Gospel of Christ and the grace it offers—a grace so unfamiliar to Muslims.
"The hope [in Islam] is that I'm doing enough in my life to please God," says Filidis. "But [Muslims] don't really have assurance of salvation. They don't have hope of salvation."
And that's what Christ offers.
We've just scratched the surface of this exciting subject. You can explore more, including conversion stories and what you can do to get involved in outreach to the House of Islam by picking up a copy of Dr. Garrison's book, and by vising the "30 Days of Prayer" website.
"BreakPoint This Week" is hosted by John Stonestreet, co-host of the BreakPoint daily radio commentary as well as The Point.
To listen to previous episodes of "BreakPoint This Week," click here. To find a broadcast partner near you, click here.