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Secret Believers
Subtitle: What Happens When Muslims Believe In Christ
Authors: Brother Andrew & Al Janssen
Publisher: Revell (revellbooks.com)

Stories about the persecuted church can be rather difficult to tell - in part because of the content, in part because of security issues, and in part because it's just very difficult to convey the immense gravity and piercing pressure of the situations being retold. This is particularly true when we consider the persecuted church in the Islamic nations of the Middle East where the cost of choosing Christ is always high - costs such as imprisonment, estrangement from family and society, and very frequently... death.

It's no surprise then, that the authors of Secret Believers: What Happens When Muslims Believe In Christ chose the format they did to tell this story - a collage of sorts, compiling and interlacing the accounts of many converts to Christianity within Islamic countries into a narrative, almost novel-like story. The resulting book is gripping and, quite frankly, hard to set aside. It's also challenging, and at times very difficult to read. The overwhelming sense of surveillance, suspicion, and the impending threat of harm or worse alights on nearly every page. Thankfully, this dark shadow is offset by constant reminders and evidences of God's faithfulness amidst trying circumstances.

The book takes place in an unnamed Middle Eastern country and follows a number of characters, which are "in many cases... composites of more than one individual". This is done both to protect those whose stories are being told, and so that the stories can be told as accurately as possible. It's effective - I found that as I worked my way through the narrative I was drawn in by the characters very completely.

All of that being said, I do not wish to spoil the stories for you - they are best read in their entirety and not in a summarized fashion, and further they serve a larger purpose to the reader of illustrating the plight of the persecuted church in Islamic nations. The book is closed with a brief chapter which more explicitly discusses the question of "How shall we respond?". Although typically I dislike it when books tell me what I was supposed to have learned, or how I was supposed to have been affected by the book... this section is brilliant. I found that by the time I reached it I was not only in tears, but glad for some insight into how not only to help these dear brothers and sisters, but also how to approach the Muslims around me (and their number is rising exponentially as immigration from Middle Eastern nations grows yearly).

Secret Believers is an amazing book, well put-together, and very practically-oriented. I recommend it wholeheartedly - to anyone interested in more effectively sharing Christ with their Muslim friends, to anyone interested in understanding the persecuted church in Islamic nations, and to any believer interested in what God is doing in parts of the world which outwardly seem so hostile to the gospel. It's not only a great read, but a powerful reminder of God's goodness and provision, not to mention His ability to sustain His people through the most incredible of circumstances.

Jerry Bolton 
http://bloodletting.blogspot.com
September 24, 2008


 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 

 
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