Ex-Muslims who have become Christians are increasingly forming a movement of “Muslim-background believers” in North America, reports Christianity Today (September).
While there are few reliable figures for the number of ex-Muslims who have converted to Christianity, either in their home countries or in the U.S. and Canada, there are at least 50 organizations that seek to minister to such believers. Some of these converts have tried to integrate themselves into American congregations, but the feeling of being a minority has led these new believers to find community often in “reclusive urban groups of 10– 20 believers.” Last fall, Muslim-background believers’ leaders convened at conferences and summits in Toronto, Detroit, Indianapolis, Atlanta, Dallas, and Washington, DC.
But many of these fellowships are fragile and prone to schism and dissolution, writes Christopher Lewis. These struggles over leadership and ethnic tensions are most evident in the more diverse Arab and Asian groups. In New York City, more than 10 groups have folded in one generation. Many ex-Muslim Christians are “loners,” either marginalized in American congregations or relying on the Internet for their spiritual needs.
There is more stability in the monolithic Iranian churches, which are the most numerous and organized, and are linked (however unofficially) with a growing underground evangelical movement in Iran. But it was only recently that Iranian congregations have been organized and united enough to plant other congregations in the U.S., through the California-based Iranian Christian Church (ICC). The ICC has also established an international television ministry that links believers to their counterparts in Iran.
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