Written by Sherry
Monday, 16 November 2009 18:49
This story was making the rounds over at First Things (The Anchoress and Gateway Pundit) this weekend so I thought I'd post my response here as well.
The headline? 800,000 Sudanese Muslims Have Become Christians. The source? A Dutch article, somewhat mangled by internet translation.
Grossly exaggerated - on the scale of the 6 million Muslims become Christians every year story that was circulating last year. There have indeed been many conversions in southern Sudan but they are almost all from non-Muslim backgrounds. As I commented on both blogs:
"I hate to be the one to burst people’s bubble but I’m in touch with the major networks of missionary news and statistics and nothing on this scale is being reported for Muslims in Sudan. Evangelicals follow this sort of thing assiduously and they love to crunch numbers.
Arab World Ministries puts it this way:
“Estimates of Sudanese Muslims who have become Christians range from 200 to 2000. With decades of prayer and nearly fruitless ministry behind, a harvest among Northern Sudanese Muslims seems to be beginning.”
Operation World sums it up this way:
“The population in the north is largely Sunni Muslim, though among them are 300,000 or more Coptic Christians and maybe 2 million southern Christians displaced by war. Sufi religious orders are strong – especially Ansar, followers of the famous Mahdi. A small but increasing number have become Christians – disillusioned by Islam and attracted to Jesus. There are probably some thousands of these. There are reports of whole villages turning to Christ. Pray that their numbers may increase. There is a remarkable openness among many.”
So there have been some conversions but maybe 2,000 – which is really significant - but not 800,000.
I think the source of these numbers is Joel Rosenberg who is an evangelical who writes popular thriller novels. His numbers are greatly exaggerated. (I don’t know where he got them.)
There are really significant numbers of Muslims becoming Christians in the past 20 -30 years – but not numbers like this. The largest numbers that I have ever seen reported are 10,000 (Algeria) or 20,000 (Turkey) – which are staggering – if you know the history of Muslim missions.
When you hear suspiciously large, rounded numbers like this – millions or hundreds of thousands of Muslims becoming Christians – always check out the numerous evangelical missionary resources online – Joshua report, Operation World, or some of the agencies focusing on the Muslim world.
Cause chances are, those numbers, as in this case, are wildly inflated.