Why Muslims Follow Jesus
(First appeared in SIM Niger Newsletter, August 2008)
We are again in the midst of Ramadan (Sept 1-30). It is the time of the year when there is a heightened interest in religious things. It is again an opportunity for us to intercede for our Muslim neighbors. Jonathan Moore recently showed me an article in Christianity Today (Oct 2007), Why Muslims Follow Jesus by J. Dudley Woodberry, Russell G. Shubin, and G. Marks. May the following excerpt fuel your prayers:
"...the number of new Christians each year outstrips the number of new Muslims, even though the annual growth rate is higher for Muslims (1.81 percent) than for Christians (1.23 percent)."
So what attracts Muslims to follow Jesus? Between 1991 and 2007, about 750 Muslims who have decided to follow Christ filled out an extensive questionnaire on that basic question. [R]espondents ranked the lifestyle of Christians as the most important influence in their decision to follow Christ. A North African former Sufi mystic noted with approval that there was no gap between the moral profession and the practice of the Christians he saw. An Egyptian contrasted the love of a Christian group at an American university with the unloving treatment of Muslim students and faculty he encountered at a university in Medina. An Omani woman explained that Christians treat women as equals. Others noted loving Christian marriages. Some poor people said the expatriate Christian workers they knew had adopted, contrary to their expectations, a simple lifestyle, wearing local clothes and observing local customs of not eating pork, drinking alcohol, or touching those of the opposite sex.
Many Muslims who faced violence at the hands of the other Muslims did not see it in the Christians they knew. Muslim-on-Muslim violence has led to considerable disillusionment for many Muslims.
The transforming power of the gospel is still a shining beacon to an unbelieving world. Jesus said, "Let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven."