J. Dudley Woodberry, dean emeritus and senior professor of Islamic Studies at the School of Intercultural Studies at Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, California, has served at the Christian Study Center in Rawalpindi, Pakistan, and as a pastor in Kabul, Afghanistan and Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. When Woodberry speaks about evangelizing Muslims I take notice.
Woodberry’s new (edited) book, From Seed to Fruit, is a 440 page study of global trends, fruitful practices and emerging issues among Muslims. The book asks what practices is God blessing in raising up groups of Jesus followers among Muslims? And how shall we understand Muslim peoples and their access to biblical witness? The book provides the most recent worldwide research on witness to Christ among Muslim peoples, using biblical images from nature to show the interaction between God’s activity and human responsibility in blessing these peoples.
Not long ago I saw an article by Woodberry in which he noted some of the more important factors in Muslim conversion to Christ. The information in this study is rather important for serious Christians who want to evangelize Muslims who will become devout followers of Jesus.
Why Do Muslims Convert?
1. Because of the lifestyle of Christians. Christians with a less violent lifestyle have a great impact on Muslims, especially when they have seen Muslim on Muslim violence escalate around them.
2. Because of answered prayer and physical healings.
3. Because of deliverance from demons and the demonic powers. In the sample studied made by Woodberry one third of the people were “folk” Muslims thus the role of deliverance would be higher in these contexts.
4. Deep dissatisfaction with the type of Islam that they had experienced personally. They were often disillusioned with both radical militancy and the imposition of Islamic law. They wanted to see hearts transformed and societies changed.
5. As with Paul and Cornelius, dreams and visions play a large part. 27% of Muslim converts have had such dreams before their conversion. 40% of Muslims had them at the time of their conversion. That is 67% if my math is right. And 45% had dreams after their conversion, many of which obviously had them before or during their conversion. (Make no mistake about this, dreams play a major role in the conversion of Muslims. I have heard many question and mock these reports but any fair-minded study of the facts will reveal their truth.) There is a question often used among Muslims: “Have you had the dream?” If a person says that they have then a conversation ensues about who they met and what they saw. If they have not then the issue can be discreetly dropped.
6. The gospel message, especially the assurance of salvation and forgiveness, is very important to Muslims. You should notice, however, that a great deal of the time much happens before the Muslim can hear the gospel message.
7. The spiritual truths revealed in the Bible are important; e.g. the love of God for sinners is a major factor. There is nothing quite like Romans 5:8 in Islam, “But God demonstrates his own love for us.” Love demonstrated through the life and teachings of Jesus are hugely important.
8. A deep desire for fellowship that is seen and experienced in Christian groups.
A few weeks ago I spent time in downtown Vancouver, Canada. I attended First Baptist Church on the Sunday morning of November 22 where I witnessed the baptism of a Muslim woman in the first service of the morning. Her story followed many of the very threads written about above. She had a dream about Jesus and escaped from Afghanistan. She ended up in Germany where she entered an empty Roman Catholic Church one day. As she sat and pondered she looked at the crucifix. As she looked intently she “realized” that this was the man of her dream and that this was the person who had come to die in order to save her. New life was given by the Spirit and a new journey of Christian faith began. She later emigrated to Canada and began to search for Christian teaching and baptism. She found it at First Baptist thus I was there the day she followed Christ in baptism. I confess I wept and thanked God for his amazing grace in saving this sister. It was a huge highpoint of many high points on that wonderful visit. (I also met with the More Than Gold committee, the group that is behind the Christian witness at the upcoming Olympic Games in February.) I have thought a great deal about the Muslim problem in the world, especially in our own major cities. I have also thought about the fear and reaction of many Christians. I pray, “Lord, open our eyes to see the harvest that you are preparing among Muslims. Get us ready to love and embrace these neighbors as our brothers and sisters.” No government in the world has a real solution to radical Islam. Christians have the only lasting and culture-changing solution. Do we really believe it? What if we did? How would we talk and pray if we did?
For those who would like to read the original article by Dr. J. Dudley Woodberry you can find it here.