David Garrison. Wigtake Resources, 2014.
—Reviewed by Larry Vanderaa, missionary for more than forty years in West Africa, currently working among the Muslim Fulani.
How about some refreshing news from the Muslim world? This book delivers. David Garrison claims that from the days of Mohammad to 1960, only two movements towards Christ developed in the Muslim world. In the latter half of the twentieth century, eleven new movements appeared. Since 2000, he claims that sixty-nine new movements have arisen! Researchers could quibble with the numbers and his definition of a movement, but this is yet another voice that Muslims are increasingly considering the claims of Christ.
For his analysis, Garrison creates nine geographical ‘rooms’ in the ‘house of Islam.’ In some of the rooms, interviews of new, baptized believers are recounted. These interviews form the core strength of this book. Even though the book does not promote a particular strategy, many of these new believers are to one degree or another close to their Muslim roots. Here we meet genuine ’insiders,’ although they may not exactly fit what those on either side of the Insider Movement discussion expect. Garrison writes, “Many sincere Muslim-background followers of Christ may not fit into the predominant expressions of the Christian religion today…these movements may be forming new expressions of Christian faith…” (p. 35).
For example: “’Jalal, who is Jesus to you?’ ‘Jesus is my life…He is God” (p.197). “We have now formed a madras just for training Isai mawlanas. Now we have many Isai mawlanas who can use the Qur’an to bring other Muslims to faith in Isa and then use the Injil to disciple them” (p. 120). “Why do you not leave the mosque…?’ ‘To reach others! If we create another faith community outside the mosque, there will be a gap between us and the lost. Instead, we insert Jesus into all our Muslim practices” (p. 75).
Garrison’s final analysis, however, falls a bit short. Chapter fourteen poses this question: “How and why are these Muslim movements taking place today?” Much of his analysis is evangelical boilerplate concerning the role of faith, prayer, Holy Spirit, long-term witness, etc. But these are ingredients of all movements towards Christ. The question is ’why today?‘ He does take note of two unique factors: the advent of new strategies and a greater willingness for missionaries to permit indigenous expression and control.
Garrison misses the relevance of what may be the most critical factor: the socio-religious upheaval sweeping the Muslim world. As some have noted, Islam is at war with itself; the very soul of Islam is up for grabs. This is no accident. God does not only work through missionaries and in the hearts of the lost, while socio-religious upheaval is due to ’secular‘ forces. These are not parallel lines, running coincidentally side by side. God works all angles. He prepared Paul’s context and his ready-for-conversion audiences as well as whole animist societies in the twentieth century. God can use Romans and colonialists just as well as missionaries. We missionaries are quite simply one subplot in a larger drama, reaping what God hath wrought as he rebuilds his kingdom.