Micah Fries & Keith Whitfield
Islam and North America: Loving our Muslim Neighbors
Nashville, TN: B&H, 2018.
Available at B&H.
By J. Paul
Islam is the fastest-growing religion in the world. This fact is usually met with fear or uneasiness by many including some Christians. They find people with big beards and jet black burkas to be very intimidating. This brewing fear can create unfavourable conditions for the mission of the church. The book Islam and North America exists to dispel this fear and encourage readers to see Muslims not as a threat but as a promising mission field. As Micah Fries and Keith Whitfield suggest, ‘we are trying to calm your fears by offering you facts, data, and personal stories, not to mention biblical truth, that pulls away hysteria’. In other words, the burden of the book is to spur Christians on to better engage, understand and love these neighbours who are also created in the image of God.
To help Christians better engage with Muslims, Fries and Whitfield have invited a group of seasoned missiologists, experienced evangelists and former Muslims to contribute chapters. This interweaving of different voices is certainly one of the major strengths of this work. All the contributors shed light from different angles. Consequently, different perspectives help tease out the intricate nuances of engaging fruitfully with Islam. Although this book is written with North America in mind, many (if not all) the principles are applicable anywhere in the western world.
The three-part structure of the book is pretty straightforward and easy to follow. The first section introduces the whole book by highlighting the joys, challenges and opportunities of our ‘New Multi-Faith Reality’ that we find ourselves in. Also, it gives a broad overview of Global Islam along with its demographics in North America. The second part largely deals with the thorny questions that people ask, such as: Should we defend freedom of worship for other religions? Do Christians and Muslims worship the same God? Do Muslims want to overtake America’s political structure and institute Sharia law? The final section of the book fleshes out ‘great commission opportunities’. Here, readers are given Bible-saturated practical advice on how to share our precious Saviour with our Muslim neighbours.
There is so much that one can glean from this book. I was specially challenged by D. A Horton’s bold exhortation to plead with God against desensitisation to our neighbour’s spiritual condition. He rightly suggests that we casually pass by all kinds of people every day in our lives without really giving a thought about people’s spiritual conditions. Therefore, Horton urges us to diligently ask God to give us grief for the lost so that we will be sensitive to our neighbour’s gravest need.
This short book (184 pages) is written in a conversational style, accessible to a broad audience. It can serve as a valuable tool in helping both individuals and churches to understand the complexity of Islam and how to share the gospel with them in the new sociological settings of our dynamic world. If you are someone who would like some encouragement in sharing the gospel with Muslims, this is a good place to start.