Can you hear it? A wind is blowing through the house of Islam. Muslims around the world are becoming followers of Jesus. Once again David Garrison is out ahead of missiologists and the academe with his distinct yet simply historical assessment of the growing global movement of Muslims towards Jesus. And once again his findings, based on first-hand interviews, go against conventional wisdom.
Garrison clearly defines his purpose and parameters. What is the history of Muslims converting from Islam to followers of Jesus? That’s the simple question. He conservatively defines movements as 100 new churches or 1,000 new believers over a two-decade period. He leaves himself much wiggle room—e.g. claiming between 2 and 7 million Christ followers since the beginnings of Islam.
Garrison begins his story with a sweeping overview of the early history of Christian outreach to Muslims. The first of these evangelistic efforts (proto-movements?) took place in the 10th-century region of Nisibis or modern-day Syria/Turkey. Interestingly, Garrison does not identify these medieval manifestations as movements according to his definition. Indeed, there were often modifying motives for conversion. He is setting the stage for a study of truly voluntary movements of Muslims to Jesus.
Though many readers, especially the usual gang of missiological skeptics, may focus on the qualitative nature of the data or Garrison’s tendency to frame God’s mission into a “church-planting movement” context, this book is about more than measuring movements. Do not misunderstand my comment. I am confident in Garrison’s data and his phenomenological approach. His research methodology was carefully vetted by a reputable research foundation. His data is based on 1,000 interviews with Muslim background believers over a 2 ½ year period and 250,000 miles of travel (28). So, no disclaimer here. Yet, the real gems of A Wind in the House of Islam are the conclusions drawn by Garrison regarding God’s work—God’s mission and how he conducts it. Herein lie the lessons from this book. Thus, the sub-title, How God is drawing Muslims around the world to faith in Jesus Christ, is a fitting descriptive.
The first three chapters describe the author’s research method and the purpose of the study. Garrison describes the world of Islam as an historical Dar al-Islam (House of Islam in Arabic), using the same designation of Muslims for their invisible religious empire from West Africa to Indonesia (6). Then the journey begins. Chapter-by-chapter Garrison walks the reader through the nine rooms of the House of Islam, from Indo-Malaysia through Persia and ending up in the Arab room. Each house provides case studies of Muslim movements to Jesus. These case studies are based on his personal interviews and are filled with stories and testimonies of the work of God in the House of Islam. Garrison’s final analysis identifies 82 movements from the 19-21st centuries with one remarkable pattern. 84% of these movements occurred in the first 12 years of the 21st century! So God is doing something in the House of Islam that he has never done before. More Muslims than ever are turning to Jesus, in these days.
The last three chapters of the book provide the practical applications we’ve come to expect from David Garrison. He answers the “So what?” question within the context of the mission of God to be known by all peoples. By observing how God is at work among Muslims, perhaps we can position ourselves to be better used by God to fulfill his Great Commission. This is the essence of the book. Review what God has done. Watch what he is now doing in an unprecedented way. Learn how he is doing it and live, work, and minister accordingly.
A Wind in the House of Islam has something for all types of readers. Students of history will enjoy the journey. Missiologists will engage the analysis and test the author’s conclusions. Practitioners will mine the case studies and faithful readers will be amazed and inspired by the transformational work of the spirit of God Himself. Can you hear it? The wind of the Spirit of God . . . blowing through Dar al-Islam?