The following true story is taken from pages 64 and 65 of my copy of “A Wind in the House of Islam” by David Garrison. I tell it to give you some idea of the scale of what Jesus is doing inside Islam in East Africa. This is an insight into one of the 69 mass people movements of Muslims to Christianity that have sprung up in just the first 12 years of this century.
Sheikh Hakim was a slender man in his mid-thirties with a neatly trimmed beard, intense lively eyes, wearing a bright purple shirt beneath the ubiquitous second hand suit. Hakim was one of nine sheikhs who had walked for several miles from their villages on the Horn of Africa to join me at a crossroads cafe and tell me their stories.
“How did you become a follower of Jesus?” I asked.
Hakim replied, “My father came from the Boro Mountain Muslims who are known for their zealous faith. Islam in this East African country began in the Boro Mountains.
“When I was born, my father took a vow, ‘My son will only study the Qur’an and never work for me.’ So, from the age of two till I was eighteen, I only studied the Qur’an.” Hakim is a Hafez, meaning one who has memorised the entire Qur’an.
As Muslims, Hakim and his fellow Muslims once believed Jesus was only a prophet for Israel. “If someone told us Jesus was the son of God,” Hakim said, “that would be very hard for us to hear. The Qur’an says, ‘If you say that Jesus is God, you become Kafir (pagan).’ So if someone said that Jesus was God we would kill him. When I was a Muslim, I burned churches for Islam.
“I accepted the gospel because it came to me in my own way of understanding. At the time I was the overseer of four mosques and was training 300 Muslim teachers. One day a local African evangelist gave me an Injil (a New Testament) in Arabic. Before this happened I believed all Injils to be corrupt and lost, but this one was in Arabic. I believed Arabic to be the language of God, so it could not be corrupted.
“First, this evangelist shared with me the teachings that both Muslims and Christians share: That Jesus is coming again, and those who do not believe in him, he will destroy with his breath. This was the same teaching that the Qur’an teaches, so I was confused. I prayed to Allah, ‘You know my heart. If there’s something I must do, show me.’
That night Isa came to me in a dream. In my dream I could see someone trying to repair the speaker at the top of the mosque’s minaret. And then I looked at the base of the minaret and saw a man there chopping it down with an axe. Then, as I looked closer, I saw the man was me!
“Four times I had this dream.
“The next morning, I went and found the evangelist who had given me the Injil and asked him what this meant. He smiled and said to me, ‘ You are going to win many sheikhs to the Lord. ‘So immediately I became a follower of Jesus. And immediately I met with great persecution.”
Though Hakim didn’t say it, some of the other sheikhs told me that, as a result of his conversion to Christ, Hakim lost his job, his farm and nearly his life. His own father hurled a spear at his apostate son, piercing his back and nearly killing him. Today Hakim moves from town to town because there are always those who are trying to kill him.
Hakim smiled and pointed to three of the other sheikhs sitting around the breakfast table. “These were my first converts.” He continued, “I was able to accept the gospel because it came to me in Arabic. Even though it was not my heart language, as a sheikh I knew it well and considered it holy. Over the next seven months we saw 74 sheikhs from our people group come to Jesus. Right now there are more than 400 sheikh’s who have come to Jesus.”
Incredulous I asked, “How many of these sheikhs have been baptised?”
Hakim responded immediately, “More than 300 so far.” Later I was shown a photo of 75 sheikhs’ dressed in white, standing in line before one of the regions beautiful lakes, waiting for baptism.