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David Garrison: A Wind in the House of Islam

With twelve chapters in the book, counting the introduction and the closing chapter which offers an excellent critical analysis of the factors leading toward conversion to Jesus and of barriers to conversion, the middle chapters devote themselves to the nine different “rooms” or geographic-cultural settings in which Muslim movements toward faith in Christ occurred. After giving an historical prologue which describes the reaction of the Christian church to the Islamic armies as they advanced both toward where the Mediterranean met the Atlantic, Garrison switched to Islam’s penetration within India and the countries bordering the Bay of Bengal and into the western Pacific shores.

While acknowledging the earlier attempts to reach Muslims with the gospel and the attempts of Ramon Lull and William of Fiore during the Medieval era, the author far more space to the years between the 17th and 21st centuries. These were the centuries when Christianity began to make headway within Muslim cultures.

His first full narrative dealt with the evangelistic work of Indonesian evangelist Sadrich Surapranata (1835-1924) which eventuated into the formation of the Kresten Jawa Churches. His adopted son Yothan Martarejan assumed the mantle of Surapranata upon the latter’s death and during his leadership led the Muslim-background Christians into a merger with the Dutch Indische Kerke congregations in 1932.

This reviewer found Garrison’s description of the Muslim movement toward faith in Christ Jesus in East Africa most interesting. This reviewer met Muslim-background Christians when in Malawi in 1985 and again in 1986.

Garrison wrote of the witness of Sheikh Hakin and mentioned the ministry of the indigenous Gospel of All Nations Church.

One outstanding feature of Garrison’s work was the translation of Muslim terminology. Isa al Masih translates as Jesus the Messiah; Injil is the Arabic New Testament. He does this throughout his book. When he describes the movement of Muslim-background believers to Christ in North Africa, Bangladesh, Iran, Turkestan, West Africa, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and the western states of India, he translates the regional dialects. What is interesting is that nearly all Muslims cannot read the Arabic of the Quran (Koran) which is the Islamic holy book. This ignorance proved an advantage for both indigenous and overseas Christian missionaries. When a person is able to read the Koran and also the Bible, the difference between the two is discerned. The reader opts for the Bible. Most Muslims rely on the words of their Islamic leaders as to what the Quran says or teaches and thus are ignorant of its actual contents. This is one of the factors contributing to the movement toward faith in the gospel of the Christ Jesus. When the Quran is brought into the dialect and colloquialisms of the muslims who are not Arabic speakers, they see the big difference between Mohammed and Jesus and move away of Islam and toward the Christian gospel.

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Category: Church History, Spring 2016

About the Author: Woodrow E. Walton, D.Min. (Oral Roberts University School of Theology and Missions), B.A. (Texas Christian University), B.D. [M.Div.] (Duke Divinity School), M.A. (University of Oklahoma), is a retired Seminary Dean and Professor of biblical, theological and historical studies. An ordained Assemblies of God minister, he and his wife live in Fort Worth, Texas. Walton retains membership with the Evangelical Theological Society, American Association of Christian Counselors, American Society of Church History, American Academy of Political Science, and The International Society of Frontier Missiology.

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