For decades, prayer letters from missionaries to Muslim countries focused on faithfulness—on why they must press on despite little or no fruit for all their toil. It was not unusual to hear of a decade of effort resulting in two or three converts. But over the last few years, new themes have been explored in these home-bound epistles: stories of a new interest in Christianity, of a thirst for Bibles, of conversions, of secret meetings of Christians—in other words, stories of churches being born.

As the mainstream media focus on the political churnings in the Muslim world—from bombings and assassinations to wars and peace talks—we thought we would explore a different Muslim story, one that few have heard unless they happen to support the right missionaries. To do this, we wanted someone who kept his pulse on the mission world, which led us to the missions newsletter Pulse, which led us to its associate editor, Stan Guthrie.

We also realize that in December there is more to think about than how the gospel is faring in the Sahara. Advent is here, and Christmas is coming. Which raises a problem: In the post-Christian, materialistic, hedonistic, and consumerism-obsessed culture we live in, how are we to celebrate the incarnation of our Lord and Savior?

We offer two solutions. Christian writer and minister (and long-time friend of Christianity Today) Walter Wangerin, Jr., encourages us to have a bigger view of Christmas. Christian writer and former CT associate editor Rodney Clapp wants us to have a smaller view of Christmas. Without committing ourselves to relativism, we think they are both right.

Merry Christmas.

MICHAEL G. MAUDLIN, Managing Editor

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