Equipping followers of Christ to engage in their everyday work as the work of God, so workplaces are invigorated, communities flourish and culture is renewed to the honor and glory of the Lord.

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Friday, April 30, 2010

Islam In Africa

Of all the nations on earth, Indonesia has the largest number of Muslims. About 86% of Indonesia (nearly 200,000,000 people) claim to follow Islam.

A few years ago, I had the privilege of studying the history and culture of Indonesia as part of my studies at Bakke Graduate University. I spent ten days in that country with Ray Bakke and about a dozen other graduate students. During our stay, Ray pointed out that Islam did not come to Indonesia through Muslim clerics. It came via business and trade.

Michael Baer, in Business As Mission, writes: “I once asked an Indonesian Christian why the country had become so predominantly Muslim…She said that when the Western Christians came...they built missionary compounds and missionary churches and expected the Indonesian people to come to them. The Muslims, on the other hand, came as traders, farmers, merchants, and businesspeople and simply lived among the natives.”

Dr. Darrell Furgason, an expert in Islamic studies, says: “In places like Africa and Indonesia, the church has been intellectually crippled, with one hand tied behind its back. Western missionaries generally brought the Gospel in the way they learned it, as a purely soul-saving faith, with no real bearing on anything else—religion was a mostly personal matter, nothing to do with things like politics, science, law, economics….African people were given the Gospel, but not how to build a righteous nation, how to apply Christianity to everything….Muslims see their faith as all-encompassing…”

This leads me to follow-up on last week's post about what I learned from African educators earlier this month.

You see, while I was in Indonesia, one of my fellow doctoral students was an African by the name of Aila Tasse. Aila told me of the spread of Islam in Africa via business. His comment to me was: "The Muslims are winning."

When I returned home from Indonesia, I called Aila by phone and asked permission to record his comments for the benefit of others who need to know what is going on.

While in Kenya just a few weeks ago, I played Aila's comments for African leaders from Uganda, Nigeria and Sudan, and I asked if they concurred with Aila's report. Without hesitation, they all replied: "Yes! Absolutely! He is 100% correct!"

I urge you to take 2 minutes and 49 seconds to listen to Aila for yourself: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AJppIj-Fnmc



  1. Excellent example of the consequences of ignoring work and everyday life as ministry.

  2. Is this not an indictment on the whole concept of the "professional clergy," a concept unknown in the New Testment. Church leaders were all "laymen" until their ministry (real life-giving ministry, not keeping the organization afloat) was too great to have time to work 9-5 (elders who "ruled well"). Even Paul worked regularly and had not received any money from the Corinthians for his labors among them. It seems that ministry is not a job, but a way of life. Can we "go into the ministry," or are we all naturally, spontaneously and unconsciously "the ministry" when there is a river flowing out of us every day?

  3. Having worked in Uganda on broad issues, this overview is accurate relative to my experiences. I was told that Muslims:
    1. survey needs & assets and then begin business to correspondingly serve
    2. develop schools to educate where education is lacking
    3. build a mosque...and associated expectations

    1. build a church
    2. Sometimes address education
    3. feel 'business' is of the world and ignore it

    There DOES seem to be an awakening where the models are being re-examined.

  4. Robert,

    I just spent a week in Washington, D.C., with a group of about 30 other people, focusing on the topic of "Theology of Work." Paul Stevens, the author of "The Other Six Days," was the main speaker.

    Stevens lays out a compelling case for just what you are talking about, namely, that the clergy-laity division has no biblical basis in the New Testament. The ramifications of putting this division aside are enormous.

    I highly recommend Stevens' book.

  5. Chris,
    The comment by Dr. Furgason - “purely a soul saving faith” - seems apropos of western Christianity in general. I'm currently reading Orthodoxy & Heresy In Earliest Christianity, by Walter Bauer. It seems that message of Christianity has always been presented in this way. Perhaps that has something to do with the early church's need to distinguish its message of truth in a cultural environment already teeming with religious and philosophical beliefs. Two other possible factors: Our read on the Great Commission, and western culture's impatient nature. I'm sure you would know more about church history than I do at this point.

    Where the above comment it is of interest to me, is in the context of my counseling of Christian married couples. The question was asked, “Is there a lack of proper teaching on the topic of marriage?” I think in marriage, like business, we have a mental concept of the Christian thing to do. But we are perhaps disinclined to believe it really matters to God when the dust settles - since Christianity is primarily about saving souls, and only secondarily about saving marriages – or running businesses. “This world is not our home. We're just a passin' through.”