by Evelyne A. Reisacher
Baker Academic, 2016
—Reviewed by Don Little, Pioneers Missiologist, Director of the Lilias Trotter Center; author of Effective Discipling in Muslim Communities (IVP Academic, 2015)
Befriending, talking to, and hanging out with Muslims has long given me much joy, so I was immediately drawn by the title of Evelyne Reisacher’s book. If one were to go by what is talked about in the news, joy is seldom a part of Muslim-Christian interaction. So it’s very encouraging to read a book that expounds, in diverse and creative ways, how we as Christians can experience joy, share joy, and pass on joy as we befriend Muslims in our workplaces, communities, neighborhoods, and travels.
Writing out of a lifetime of living and ministering among Muslims in France, and more recently, through teaching at Fuller Theological Seminary, Evelyne is able to illustrate her discussion with personal joy-giving encounters with Muslims in many countries around the world. Having had the pleasure of meeting Evelyne in several contexts in recent years, I can say that she practices what she preaches. I believe it contributes a unique and much-needed new perspective to our ongoing conversations about Christian witness among Muslims.
So what does Reisacher attempt to do in Joyful Witness in the Muslim World? Building on her extensive friendships with Muslims over decades, she draws upon literature about how friendships are created and how people connect with each other in healthy ways, especially across difficult barriers. Underlining how much the Christian life, and salvation itself, is often characterized by abounding joy, she invites us to consider a variety of ways in which Christians can engage with Muslims, especially in everyday situations that will bring joy to both us and them.
In the first two chapters, she sets the foundation and then explores representative ways in which we Christians can connect joyfully with Muslims in cyberspace, through art, in caring for God’s creation, in caring for the needy, and in engaging Muslims in cities. She concludes with some helpful suggestions about talking about Christ and the gospel with Muslims. She has known Muslims to be good and decent people who have made her life immeasurably richer, and she clearly loves them and cares deeply that they come to know Jesus.
Four types of Christians would especially benefit from reading this book: (1) ordinary Christians who have Muslim neighbors, (2) those studying Islam and ministry to Muslims, (3) pastors, Christian educators, and leaders, and (4) missionaries living among Muslims. The last group, I believe, will be especially challenged to greater creativity and boldness in their encounters with Muslims through reading this compelling call to joyful witness.
I can’t help but think that it is not a coincidence that the two Christians whom I know to be among the most fruitful in their decades-long ministry to Muslims (Evelyne Reisacher and Joy Loewen) are both women who find great joy in befriending Muslims. I think that the contagious joy that they experience in their friendships with Muslims has a lot to do with why they are so fruitful in seeing Muslims come to know and love Jesus.
Houssney, George. 2010. Engaging Islam. Lafayette, Colo.: Treeline Publishing.
Loewen, Joy. 2010. Woman to Woman: Sharing Jesus with a Muslim Friend. Grand Rapids. Mich.: Chosen Books
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EMQ, Vol. 53, No. 3. Copyright © 2017 Billy Graham Center for Evangelism. All rights reserved. Not to be reproduced or copied in any form without written permission from EMQ editors.