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"It was the best of times, it was the worst of times," Charles Dickens said about the time leading up to the French Revolution in A Tale of Two Cities. The same could be said today of Christian witness to Muslims, who belong to a bitterly divided community undergoing a revolution.

The anti-Christian part of the Islamic resurgence certainly qualifies as the "worst of times." It burst onto the world scene with the Islamic Revolution of 1979 and into everyone's living room on September 11, 2001, leaving victims and sometimes churches in its wake.

In the eyes of those who long for Muslims to know Jesus as they do, the unprecedented trickles—and in a few cases, floods—of Muslims who have chosen to follow Christ in previously evangelistically arid lands undoubtedly constitute the "best of times." In the late 1960s, there was a major turning to Christ among the Javanese in Indonesia, following a conflict between Muslims and communists. We have seen similar movements in North Africa and South Asia, along with smaller ones elsewhere.

In fact, and perhaps counterintuitively, the number of new Christians each year outstrips the number of new Muslims, even though the annual growth rate is higher for Muslims (1.81 percent) than for Christians (1.23 percent). Over the last century, Christians have grown at a slower rate than have Muslims, with Muslims increasing from 12 percent to 21 percent of the global population during that time. But this is hardly surprising. Christianity has more total followers than Islam. More people need to become Christians annually simply to remain at roughly a third of the world population. Muslims are increasing in sub-Saharan Africa and among African Americans by conversion, but elsewhere the growth ...

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In the Magazine

October 2007

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