SECRET BELIEVERS: What Happens When Muslims Believe in Christ
Brother Andrew and Al Janssen
Brother Andrew, author of the classic GOD'S SMUGGLER, and veteran author Al Janssen open this insightful look into the plight of Christians in Muslim cultures with the Arabic translation of Paul's words in 2 Timothy 4:7. We know that verse as "I have fought the good fight." The authors inform us that the last three words of that verse are rendered in Arabic as "the good jihad."
The "good jihad"? As Andrew and Janssen point out, to Western ears that sounds like an oxymoron; we associate jihad with a holy war waged against those who radical Muslims call "infidels" --- meaning Christians, as well as members of other faiths and secularists and anyone else who has committed an offense against Islam. But the very purpose of SECRET BELIEVERS is to call Christians everywhere to join in the good jihad --- a prayer effort to bring Muslims to faith in Jesus Christ.
Instead of telling us about the persecution of Christians in Muslim countries --- specifically, Muslims who profess faith in Christ --- the authors wisely show us what that persecution actually looks like through a fictional account that comprises more than three-quarters of the book. The story they present focuses on the lives of a number of MBBs --- Muslim Background Believers --- based on real people who have converted to Christ and have chosen to remain in hostile Islamic countries in order to bring God's love to other Muslims.
Among the people we meet are Butros, Brother Andrew's contact in an unnamed Islamic country where the story unfolds; Ahmed, who comes to faith in Christ through the influence of his MBB friend Zaki; Father Abuna Alexander, a Christian priest who has to come to terms with Muslims-turned-Christians whose presence threatens the safety of his congregation; Salima, a young woman whose family isolates her when they discover a Bible in her room; and Mustafa and Hassan, who become the target of radical Muslim extremists.
Through the stories of those believers and others, the authors reveal both the hunger for Christ's love and forgiveness that exists among Muslims and the hatred for Christians that exists among extremists. As has been his approach since he first began smuggling Bibles behind the Iron Curtain in the 1950s, Brother Andrew emphasizes compassion over fear and hostility toward those who persecute Christians. In the nonfiction portion of the book that follows the fictional story, he and Janssen --- who serves as communications director for Open Doors International, which Brother Andrew founded --- offer a four-pronged response to the growth of Islam and the threat posed by Muslim extremists. Not surprisingly, the challenges focus on love, forgiveness, the imitation of Christ, and prayer and sacrifice --- which to Andrew and Janssen are anything but nice-sounding Christian words. They're calling for a good jihad, remember. They're in a fight, and they know it.
For whatever reason, I didn't expect the fictional portion to be as absorbing as it was. I was pleasantly surprised when I found myself caught up in the stories of the people and the hardships faced by Christians --- former Muslims as well as others --- in Islamic nations, in this case in the Middle East. And the call to jihad, with its focus on loving Muslims into the kingdom of God, is a message Western Christians can't hear often enough.
--- Reviewed by Marcia Ford (firstname.lastname@example.org)
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