The Triumph of the Gospel in a Muslim’s Life by bigplew
July 28, 2007, 8:17 pm
Filed under: Culture, Evangelism

by Mike Plewniak

This is an article on The Gospel Coalition by Thabiti Anyabwile. It is very encouraging!

“She was a very attractive professional woman in her mid-twenties. It was clear that she attended the discussion of Islam at the invitation of a friend. She stood patiently, locking onto every word, as others in turn asked their questions and filed away. Finally, the crowd dwindled and it was her turn to speak. She shyly and politely thanked me for the talk.

Then the look. I’ve seen the look a number of times before. In an instant, a once forbidden but now ineffable joy broke across her face. Tears streamed down but her face beamed brightly. Her eyes grew slightly wild with excitement. She told me that her family was from Iran. She now lived and worked in the United States with her parents. And as is custom, she will live under their care in their home until she marries. But she has a secret. In the last two weeks she has heard the gospel of Jesus Christ and she now loves Him as her Savior.

“I don’t know how to tell my parents, or what will happen. But I have never been happier in my life. I can’t explain it; I’m just so joyful.” More tears. More beaming brightness.

The gospel is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek (Rom 1:16)—and also to the Muslim!

I sometimes think Christians doubt this wonderful truth—that the gospel is the triumphing power of God in the lives of anyone and everyone who believes. We sometimes seem to think that certain people are beyond the saving reach of the gospel. Too often we certainly seem to think that the Muslim is beyond gospel reach and impervious to gospel power.

But contrary to our unbelief, the gospel of Jesus Christ is indeed triumphing in the hearts, minds, and lives of countless men and women from Muslim backgrounds of various sorts. I am one such person.

I’ve spent a significant portion of my life lost. Being separated from God by my sin, I’ve been dedicated to many activities, thoughts and attitudes contrary to the gospel. But this was never more true than when I lived as a practicing Muslim.

I converted to Islam while a sophomore in college. In the years leading up to my conversion, I had grown very angry with life. My father left when I was about fourteen years old. I was angry with him. Arrested before my junior year in high school, many of my friends distanced themselves from me. I was angry at them as well. Between my senior year in high school and freshman year of college, I discovered sixties radicals like Malcolm X, Amiri Baraka and a host of others. They made me angrier. As I read the history of African and African Americans, I grew angry at white people in general. By the time I completed my freshman year of college, I was a young, angry, militant seething with not just anger but hatred.

It was Islam that promised a way of handling and using that hatred. That’s what it promised. But in my experience, what it delivered was far different.

My anger and hatred toward whites found an easy and ultimate representative target in a blond-haired, blue-eyed Jesus. Though I expressed respect for “the real Jesus” who was a prophet of Allah, I was a rabid enemy of the cross. It was my delight to oppose Christian students on campus and to launch any argument I could against Christianity. I denied the resurrection and harangued those who believed in the resurrection as simple-minded fools. Christianity was a great plot by the misguided and deceitful “followers” of the “real Jesus.” I was zealous for Islam, the perfect religion for the African American.

It was Ramadaan, a time of great spiritual discipline, prayer and study. I was up before sunrise reading the Qu’ran and preparing for morning prayer. The morning still wore the drowsiness of sleep. I settled into my desk chair to read. And as I did so, a steady awareness settled over me: Islam cannot be true.

I had been devouring the Qu’ran as best I could. I had a particular interest in the passages that would help me speak to Christians about their “errors and misguided opinions.” That meant I had to consider the Qu’ran’s teachings about Jesus. What I found simply could not stand as true and Islam itself be consistent.

The Qu’ran plainly taught that Jesus was born of a virgin with no earthly father (Surah 3:42-50). The Qu’ran plainly taught that the Torah, Psalms of David, and the Gospels were books revealed by Allah (Surah 4:163-165; 5:46-48; and 6:91-92). And in many passages, the Qu’ran, written approximately 600 years after Christ and the apostles, expresses such confidence in these sections of the Bible that it called people to judge the truth from these Scritpures (Surah 3:93-94; 5:47; and 10:94). And nowhere does the Qu’ran teach that the Bible was corrupted or changed, only that some have covered its meaning, misunderstood it, or forgotten the message. So, for me, any consistent and intellectually honest Muslim had to come to grips with the teaching of the Bible.

And when I went to the Bible—first assuming I’d find things consistent with, confirming or pointing to the Qu’ran, and then growing desperate to find the supposed prophecies that point to Muhammad—all my assumptions were confounded and without basis. Islam was not true. Islam’s claim to be the final and seal of all religions, its prophet the final and seal of all prophets, simply did not hold any water.

How could Jesus be virgin born, as the Qu’ran taught, and not be the Son of God as the Gospels so clearly teach? How could the theme of atonement and sacrifice so pronounced in both the Law of Moses and the Gospels simply and essentially vanish in Islam? And most troubling of all, how could my unrighteousness and sin ever be atoned for without a perfect sacrifice on my behalf? My sin was real and Islam offered no real solution for them.

Islam had strong-armed me into believing that all of life’s needs and questions were answered by its system of laws and rituals. I had believed Islam’s meta-narrative on the development of religion and society—“Judaism is the elementary school, Christianity the high school, but Islam the university.” A false theology and ideology had dominated my life.

By the time I emerged from this period of study and exploration, I was convinced Islam was not true. More than that, I was fairly certain that all religions were false. Rather than turn to Christ, I turned to the pursuit of the world and decided to trust myself rather than God.

In the midst of this idolatrous pursuit, the Lord intercepted me. One day following the miscarriage of our first child, I sat in a mild depression watching television. For reasons I could not then explain, I sat transfixed as a television preacher expounded 2 Timothy 2:15. It wasn’t a particularly evangelistic message, but this sermon on studying God’s word and Christian habits of the mind was filled with life.

Eventually, my wife and I would visit the church where this pastor served. We were approximately seven to eight rows from the pulpit. Crowded into a church service of some seven or eight thousand, it was as though the only people in the room were the preacher and myself.

The sermon, taken from Exodus 32, was titled “What does it take to make you angry?” It was a careful and convicting look at sin and idolatry and the consequences of sin. It was a challenge to develop a righteous, godly indignation toward sin, to hate sin and to turn to God.

I sat gripped as the holiness and justice of God were unfolded from the scripture. I grew strangely remorseful and alert—awakened really—as the pastor applied the doctrine of sin to his hearers. I was convicted, guilty before this holy God who judges all unrighteousness.

Then, with plain yet beautiful speech, the preacher exalted Jesus for us to see. Here was the Lamb of God for us to behold! Here was the Sacrifice anticipated in the Old Testament and executed in the new. Here in Jesus was redemption. The sinless Son of God had indeed come into the world to save everyone who believes—even a former Muslim who was an avowed and determined enemy of the cross!

“Repent and believe for the forgiveness of your sins” came the invitation. In God’s kindness, my wife and I turned from our sins and turned to Jesus in faith on that day. In God’s mercy, the stranglehold of years of anger and hatred were broken literally overnight. The gospel triumphed where no other power had or could. The gospel of Jesus Christ freed me from the clutches of sin and the darkness of Islam.

The gospel is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes. I saw that power on the young Iranian woman’s face that day. I’ve seen that power displayed in the face of people from Muslim backgrounds in America and the Middle East. I’ve experienced and received that power myself through faith in Christ.


5 Comments so far
Leave a comment

Very cool story. What a testimony to God’s glory!

Comment by rbenhase

great story…it’s amazing that God uses the gospel to transform hearts!

Comment by Jon

Thank you for posting this-for directing our eyes to such a wonderful testimony and ultimately to the power of the Cross! I am so encouraged. That really built my faith for muslim nations and people.

Comment by Trillia

Thanks so much for posting this article. If you want to hear more of Thabiti’s story, you can check out this audio file from a talk he gave about a year ago…

Comment by Stephanie

very well……whatever, who wrote the fairy tale??

Comment by joy

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