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The Life and Impact of Phil Parshall

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Table of Contents

Preface by Mark S. Williams

Introduction by Kenneth Nehrbass

Chapter 1: The Life and Legacy of Phil Parshall by Gary R. Corwin

Chapter 2: Standing on the Shoulders of Others: When Innovations Surprise the Innovator by Kevin Higgins

Chapter 3: Only One Offense: Why Cultural Immersion Still Matters by Miriam Adeney

Chapter 4: Urban Muslims: Holding Multiple Memberships by Enoch Jinsik Kim

Chapter 5: Confronting Gospel Barriers: Obliteration or Negotiation? by Harley Talman

Chapter 6: Two Decades of the Letter “C”: Reflections on the C1–C6 Spectrum

Chapter 7: Living Cross-Culturally in Muslim Contexts: Reflections on Key Themes in the Writings and Ministry of Phil Parshall by John Jay Travis

About the Contributors

Appendix: academic Works by Phil Parshall

The Life and Impact of Phil Parshall
Connecting with Muslims
Kenneth Nehrbass and Mark Williams

Being a witness for Jesus in Muslim contexts is often difficult, complicated, and even discouraging. Over the past forty years, Phil Parshall, a leading authority on Muslim outreach, has demonstrated that making friends with Muslims—whether in the West or abroad—is where our witness usually begins. "Brother Phil" and his wife, Julie, were missionaries in Bangladesh for more than twenty years and later worked among Muslims in the Philippines. During his tenure as a missionary leader, Parshall authored a dozen books that helped shape current missiological perspectives about Muslim outreach. In this volume, the only edited work dedicated to exploring Phil Parshall’s legacy, seven respected missiologists interact with those ideas.

While all the contributors to this book have been inspired by Parshall's life and work, some of them believe that Parshall’s methods of contextualization could have been taken even further. They ponder: How can we further remove obstacles to following Jesus? How do we navigate the fine lines between Muslim cultures and Muslim religious ideas? What cultural and social aspects of Muslim life could cross-cultural workers adopt when living among Muslims? Here they share some of their victories and challenges, encouraging Christian workers to press ahead on paths of outreach to Muslims that are fitting for the twenty-first century context.


  • This volume is a fitting tribute to Phil and Julie Parshall. Not only do the contributors demonstrate the global impact of Parshall's writings, but they also build on his work in a variety of ways—engaging in biblical theology and sociological analysis, refining methodology and metrics. The need for Christians to bring the gospel to Muslims has never been greater. These contributors connect a new generation of missionaries with Parshall's work, inspiring further commitment to thoughtful witness.
    Carmen Joy Imes, Professor of Old Testament at Prairie College and Author, Bearing God's Name: Why Sinai Still Matters 
  • I'm jealous. I wanted to write a whole biography of Phil and Julie Parshall, and I earnestly hope somebody does. For now, may The Life and Impact of Phil Parshall not merely inspire readers to emulate Phil, who has challenged us to constantly keep on asking, “How can we do it better, wiser, and deeper?” but also move many to take up persevering residence among the most neglected, suffering Muslims on earth . . . through wars, famine, and floods, even denying themselves the joy of a large family to be more available to those whose families are in danger of being lost for eternity. Thank you, Phil, and Julie, for your contagious example both in thinking and doing.
    Greg Livingstone Founder, Frontiers
  • Christians with a heart for communicating the gospel of Jesus Christ effectively in cross-cultural contexts cannot afford to neglect the conversation in which the experienced missiologists of this book invite their readers’ thoughtful participation. The decades of experience each of the seven contributors, together with the mentor they honor in this volume, Phil Parshall, bring to the discussion reflect the investment of extensive time and treasure within various cultures of Islam.
    The principles they endeavor to refine here will sharpen the approach and better the wisdom of everyone who recognizes the challenge—in cross-cultural mission among any people group—of unburdening the gospel of the assumptions of one’s own culture in bringing it to another. Still, for all its thought-provoking analysis, the book offers the reader no mere technical manual. Its pages are inspired by the love each author has for the Muslims with whom they share life and by the desire each one has that these beloved people would one day also share in the atoning power of Jesus.
    Donald WestbladeProfessor of religion, Hilllsdale College
  • The topic of Muslim followers of Jesus is hotly debated in missiology today. Phil Parshall, through his humble and gentle spirit and forty years as an effective cross-cultural witness among Muslims, has been an innovative pioneer in Muslim evangelism, opening the door for new ways of thinking, relating to, and living among Muslims. Others have built on his foundational principles and at times taken his contextualization ideas beyond his theological comfort zone. Now seven missiologists, have written captivating, helpful, and practical essays to honor Phil Parshall. What a great gift they have given to missiologists and mission practitioners today.
    Darrell Whiteman Global Development, Inc.
  • This book reflects and builds on the insights of a contemporary leader in Christian mission among Muslims with whom I have had the privilege of working in the classroom and the mission field for many years. Likewise the contributors bring a similar blend of the academy, experience and creative insight. This book should be on the short list of any missionaries to Muslims wishing to enrich their call with the insights of those in whose footsteps they are privileged to walk.
    J. Dudley Woodberry Dean Emeritus and Senior Professor of Islamic Studies, Fuller Theological Seminary