The National Catholic Reporter has a fascinating essay about the recent increase of Muslims converting to Christianity. Researchers estimate that there were between 5 million and 16 million “Muslim Background Believers” in 2010. In the US, it is estimated that 20,000 Muslims convert to Christianity a year.
Dudley Woodley, a Fulbright scholar of Islam, published five primary reasons why Muslims are drawn to Christianity, based on interview with 750 MBBs:
- The lifestyle of Christians. Former Muslims cited the love that Christians exhibited in their relationships with non-Christians and their treatment of women as equals.
- The power of God in answered prayers and healing. The Jesus portrayed in the Quran is a prophet who heals lepers and the blind and raises the dead. Often, dreams or visions about Jesus or a man of light were reported. (Some also have dreams of the Bible or of the Virgin Mary, who is revered within Islam.)
- Dissatisfaction with the type of Islam they had experienced. In his article “How ISIS Is Spreading the Gospel,” David Cashin of the Zwemer Center observes, “I have often referred to Islamic radicals as ‘proto-evangelists’ for the Christian faith.”
- The spiritual truth in the Bible. Muslims are generally taught that the Torah, Psalms and the Gospels are from God, but that they became corrupted. These Christian converts said, however, that the truth of God found in Scripture became compelling for them and key to their understanding of God’s character.
- Biblical teachings about the love of God. In the Quran, God’s love is conditional, but God’s love for all people in the Bible was especially eye-opening for Muslims. These converts were moved by the love expressed through the life and teachings of Jesus.
As exciting as it is to see Muslims convert to Christianity, I confess that my excitement is tempered because those who have converted have had to live through hell because of the U.S.’s insane foreign policy in the Middle East and Afghanistan. The U.S.’s counter-terrorism policies in the region in general, and its policy of regime change in Libya and Syria in particular, has caused untold suffering among countless innocent people. Those policies are the key drivers behind the refuguee crisis swarming Europe. Further, the U.S.’s indirect support of ISIS has caused unnecessary havoc within eastern Syria and western Iraq. But for our involvement there, many of those who have converted would have lived far less traumatic lives.
It is indeed hopeful to see new blood in the Christian faith. The article shows many MBB’s continuing to have peaceful relationships with Muslims in their communities. They do so “as a witness to the love and mercy of Jesus Christ”.
That is beautiful.
May we Christians learn from them, and always act as witnesses to the love and mercy of Jesus Christ with everyone we meet.