Muslim conversions and money?

I wonder if the rosy numbers you often hear about Muslim conversions to Christianity are artificially inflated "to keep the donors donating." How much of that practice is there?

This question is from an anonymous reader.

This is a really good question, so let me just make a couple of points.

1) Some ministries are way more guilty of number inflation than others. I would say this is especially true of radio and TV ministries and probably more true in the charismatic ministries. Why? Because when your ministry is based on the premise that you are special because the Holy Spirit is more active with YOU then you have to produce better numbers.

2) Numbers are very hard to come by. Converting from Islam is illegal in most every Arab country so it is not the kind of thing that you can easily get info about, so we have to do the best we can with the information we have. Some ministries and individuals exaggerate, some probably under-estimate numbers. It is one thing to high-ball an estimate and another thing (I think) to intentionally lie.

3) Pay attention to language: if an internet ministry says they receive 300 inquiries per month, that is what it means. They are inquiries. It could be something like, "Can you help me get a visa to emigrate?" or "I would like to marry a Christian woman, can you help me find one?" Those are inquiries, just like, "I would like to have a Bible, where can I get one?" or "Can you direct me to a church where I can be baptized?" or "Haven't you read the Quran, and don't you know you are going to hell?" So pay attention to the language. Often it is the receiving end that misconstrues what has been said.

I have told people myself, "In any given week I have several conversations about things like Jesus, religion, and the Bible." Which is true. Some people conclude from this that each person I speak with has received an adequate explanation of the Gospel--which is not what I said at all.

4) Size of ministry matters: if you support the Jones missionary family in Whateverstan then they will be able to give you good, detailed information on the people they are investing their time in. You can even ask them year over year, what happened to Mahmood and his family? and they will be able to answer your question. This is why in general I think that it is a good idea to use some of your missions tithe to support individuals or families, and not just big ministries. (Obviously I belong to the former group so perhaps I am biased.)

5) All that having been said, the number of converts certainly is going up. There can be no denying that. Is it millions? Of course not. Is it tens of thousands per year? Certainly. Hundreds of thousands? Hard to say. Will some of them fall away? Yeah. But in the end, some of those conversions are sincere and life-changing. It is, we should not be surprised, much like the parable of the sower.

I hope that answers your question. If you doubt a ministries numbers ask how they arrived at those figures. If they try to explain it to you and admit that these numbers are estimates, then they are probably trustworthy. If not, then I wouldn't support them financially.


Anonymous said…

Excellent post. I just sent an email to all my co-workers with a link to this post! Thank you for this one.

His peace, mercy & blessings be yours in abundance,
From the Middle East
John Stringer said…
Through my work we see about 20-30 Arab Muslims come to Christ each month. These are hard figures, of people we are in direct relationship with. Yes, this is media.

Many media - especially those in satellite TV broadcasting - are seeing numbers of converts that we could all only dream of 10 years ago.

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