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Where there were no church – postcards from followers of Jesus in the Muslim world

July 2011 | by Andrew Swanson

Where there were no church — postcards from followers of Jesus in the Muslim world

Editor E. J. Martin; Learning Together Press; 201 pages, £7.99; ISBN: 978-0-98306-590-6

The objective of this particular book, ‘a resource to help followers of Jesus to invite Muslims to follow him too’, is praiseworthy and needful.
    The book falls into two parts. Part one is entitled ‘The stories’. There are seven of these, which all focus upon converts from Islam and the different ways they were reached. Some ring very true to our own experience.
    They are well written, give lots of encouragement and have much to teach. The second part of the book is entitled ‘About the stories’, the majority of which consists of ‘group discussion guides for each story’. Used as intended, with a discerning leader, it could be quite useful.
    I cannot be as enthusiastic about this book as some, because it is such a ‘mixed bag’. Some stories clearly reflect the cost of discipleship; others, at very least, imply that it is possible to be a believer in Jesus and through that ‘come to a fuller understanding of what it means to be a Muslim’ (p.43). The challenge to know enough about Islam to interact with those Muslims who take their religion seriously is valid. However, we must be careful not to allow the Koran an authority it doesn’t deserve.
    Whilst there is much that is helpful in this book, it needs to be read with considerable discernment. Pastors or other mature believers with an interest in reaching Muslims will find much to encourage, as well as much fruit for thought.
    If any wish a safer guide, I’d heartily commend W. M. Miller’s A Christian response to Islam, published by P&R.
Andrew Swanson
Middle East

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