Margins of Islam: Ministry in Diverse Muslim Contexts
By Gene Daniels and Warrick Farah, Editors

Reviewed by Amit A. Bhatia, PhD/Intercultural Studies; Adjunct Professor,Trinity International University, Deerfield, IL, and Billy Graham Center for Evangelism Fellow.

There are over 1.8 billion Muslims in the world, living in over three-thousand cultures worldwide and speaking many different languages. Given this diversity, how does one effectively prepare for and engage in ministry to Muslims? The authors of this book argue that Christians have done so, up to now, by learning from classic books authored by leading scholars such as Samuel Zwemer and Phil Parshall. The books authored by these scholars, along with most other missiological books on Islam, while providing excellent information, share a common weakness: They present the view that Muslims all over the world are a monolithic bloc because they all practice the same religion. The result of this approach is that we focus on learning about Muslim commonalities, about the Qur’an, the five pillars, and other elements of orthodox Islam. But given the lived reality of practicing Muslims, and the resultant diversity within Islam, this book argues that such an approach is unhelpful in preparing Christians to minister to Muslims in many contexts. Margins of Islam offers a corrective by providing us with a better lens to view and minister within this “lived experience” of Muslims.
Through the scholarly and practical case studies presented by missiologists and mission practitioners who have served in church planting and mission work in the UK, Pakistan, Thailand, North Africa, Middle East, China, and Turkey, to name just a few, this book offers valuable lessons for mission students and missionaries. First, it reminds the reader that even in our globalized world, context is important. In order to be effective in ministering to Muslims we need to look past “surface commonalities” and navigate within their unique social, cultural, and historical contexts. Second, it clearly demonstrates through the pictures painted by the authors that Muslims in different contexts, while connected to a common core of Islam, do indeed have divergent practices and live differently. Third, the book helps the reader apply the lessons to his or her own ministry context.
The most effective way to learn from the lessons presented by these scholar-practitioners is by viewing each chapter as a missiological case study describing key concerns for each ministry context. Missionaries must recognize that “popular” Islam and Orthodox Islam are not mutually exclusive, and that it is quite common in the Muslim world, both tribal as well as Westernized, to blend the two. Furthermore, Muslims in our globalized world often live in more than one cultural world, and Christians working in their particular field of ministry must be prepared to adequately address the multicultural contexts where Muslims live and practice their faith. This book, rich in social sciences and missiology, will help the gospel worker to become a “reflective practitioner.” 

For Further Reading:
Bhatia, Amit A. Engaging Muslims and Islam: Lessons for 21st-Century American Evangelicals. Portland, OR: Urban Loft, 2017.
Oksnevad, Roy, and Dotsey Welliver, editors. The Gospel for Islam: Reaching Muslims


Walking Together on the Jesus Road: Discipling in Intercultural Contexts
By Evelyn and Richard Hibbert

Reviewed by Hoon Jung, Fuller Theological Seminary, Pasadena, CA, USA.

This volume is designed to help missionaries serve and make disciples in cross-cultural contexts. Evelyn and Richard Hibbert, former church planters in the Middle East and Bulgaria and now professors at Sydney Missionary & Bible College, believe that missionaries are often unprepared to carry out a cross-cultural discipleship ministry. The authors’ thesis is that intercultural discipling “is a mutual exploration of what it means to be an authentic follower of Jesus in the various contexts we find ourselves in. The Holy Spirit is the teacher. We walk together alongside him” (9). As the title Walking Together on the Jesus Road implies, the emphasis is on “mutuality” in cross-cultural contexts.
There are two principal strengths in this book. First, the book examines aspects of discipleship from both practical and academic perspectives. To be specific, from a practical perspective, the authors explore topics such as sharing life (Section 1), listening closely (Section 2), and respecting disciples (Section 3). From an academic perspective, the authors address the topic of contextualization, a major theme of contemporary missiology. Thus, the book appeals to those who are interested in both the practical and academic aspects of disciple making.
The second strength is that the authors’ thesis is timely and proper for contemporary Western missionaries and missiologists in the post-Western and post-colonial era. People in the majority world are more aware of culture, especially their own culture, than ever before. This means that respect for indigenous cultures and a willingness to learn from indigenous people are essential for contemporary missionaries. In this regard, the main topic of this book, mutuality, is an essential value for today’s missionaries from the West.
The fourth section “Contextualize” may be a bit confusing. The meaning and definition of the term “contextualization” varies in contemporary missiology. Here, the term is not explicitly defined. The authors argue, for example, that missionaries should contextualize the way that they explain sin. They imply that contextualization means that the gospel should be presented in a way that is comprehensible in the indigenous culture (138). But many missiologists use “contextualization” to describe self-theologizing. For example, Minjung Theology has emerged in South Korea as the contextualized form of the Latin American liberation theology. Whenever authors discuss contextualization, they need to define what they mean by it to avoid unnecessary confusion.
This book will be helpful for missionaries and students of missiology who are seeking to serve in a cross-cultural context and to focus on a disciple-making ministry.

For Further Reading
Bevans, Stephen B. Models of Contextual Theology. Maryknoll, NY: Orbis Books, 2002.
Hull, Bill. The Complete Book of Discipleship: On Being and Making Followers of Christ. Colorado Springs, CO: NavPress, 2006.
Wrogemann, Henning. Intercultural Theology: Intercultural Hermeneutics. Translated by Karl E. Böhmer. Vol. 1. Downers Grove: IVP Academic, 2016.


Wealth and Piety: Middle Eastern Perspectives for Expat Workers
By Karen L. H. Shaw

Reviewed by C. Jeremy Lind, Business as Mission (BAM) practitioner among Muslims in Southeast Asia and current PhD candidate at Cook School of Intercultural Studies, Biola University, La Mirada, California.

“How much do you make and who pays you?” A simple question, yet it may cause us expatriate workers to squirm and change the subject. This commonly experienced inquiry might be taken as an intrusion into our private affairs. An honest answer might reveal creature comforts we could not leave behind or expose our support network back home. But such questions are normal in the Middle East and Asia where perceived wealth is laden with cultural assumptions. How we as expats answer this question will have a significant impact upon our witness. This book challenges our assumption that the recipients of our ministry will share our understanding of the sacrifices we have made to leave our country and live among a people not our own. Karen Shaw says, “We compare our incomes and lifestyles with our friends back home, or with what we might have had if we stayed home, and we feel virtuously deprived. Yet we will never convince the majority of our Middle Eastern acquaintances other than that we are rich” (Kindle location 210-212). Shaw’s research may cause us some level of discomfort, compel us to consider our motives anew, and, where needed, shift our orientation towards how we use our resources in ministry.
The first two chapters deal with the question, “Who are the righteous rich?” Shaw examines the Old and New Testament peering into the lives of many biblical characters including Abraham, Solomon and Jesus. She gives no simple answers or solutions regarding the Bible’s attitude towards righteousness and wealth. Rather, Shaw balances the tensions of cultural and historical context with passages that often are assumed to discourage the amassing of wealth, or at least the pride of wealth.
Chapters three through nine explore themes from interviews with Middle Easterners of various countries, ages, religions, and economic backgrounds. Her analysis reveals the cultural blind spots of some expats and how Middle Easterners may come closer to upholding biblical principles than do North American Christians. Other insights expose areas in Middle Eastern culture where God’s Kingdom has yet to take root.
This book addresses those involved in cross-cultural ministry who have struggled with how to respond to requests for money and how to live generously without creating dependency upon outside resources. Though Shaw’s informants are Middle Eastern, there is much that can be generally applied to the Global South. The book is peppered with practical insights into how expats are perceived, how they can be more culturally sensitive, and how they might embody righteousness in culturally relevant ways while also challenging aspects of culture which do not please God. If there is any area left unaddressed, it would be real-life examples of how expats have sought to live out the principles of the righteous rich. The reader can expect personal blind spots to be exposed, areas sensitive to offense to be softened, and a new hope to live out their faith in both word and deed as a member of the righteous rich.


For Further Reading:
Corbett, S., & Fikkert, B. When Helping Hurts: How to Alleviate Poverty without Hurting the Poor... and Yourself. Chicago: Moody Publishers, 2012.
Myers, B. L.. Walking with the Poor: Principles and Practices of Transformational
Development. Maryknoll, NY: Orbis Books, 2011.
Mallouhi, Christine A. Miniskirts, Mothers & Muslims: A Christian Woman in a Muslim Land. Oxford: Monarch, 2004.