Abu Atallah and Kent A. Van Til
InterVarsity Press, 2017. 212pp.
In today’s world the believer must become more experienced with the cultures of those around them. Cultural and ethnic groups in the Middle East have been part of much discussion since September 2001. Author Abu Atallah is an Egyptian Christian who writes about his personal journey away from Islam, and in to the arms of a loving God. Much to my surprise this book was more than a simple explanation of how one Muslim became a Christian. Atallah gives the reader an excellent overview of Muslim faith and family within Egypt.
Atallah’s work is broken into sixteen chapters with an epilogue and afterword that are worth the read as well. The author moves from his own childhood in Egypt within a Muslim family, to his conversion as a young adult, to his education, and ministry. Although his ministry is in focus throughout the book there is a noticeable shift about halfway through from his personal story to a more thorough examination of Arabic culture and Islamic faith. Atallah addresses issues such as being an Arab in Western culture, Israel, marriage in Islam, as well as how Christians conduct life in Arab countries.
Throughout the pages Atallah offers the reader historical background for the Middle East as well as the history of the Muslim faith. He seeks to help the reader see and understand the belief system that is prevalent in Arab countries. Although the book is not exhaustive in its explanation of the Islamic faith it is a helpful place to start for anyone seeking to learn more.
Benefit for Pastoral Ministry
Atallah is engaging and compelling throughout the book, from his personal narrative, to the history of the Islamic faith, Atallah captures the attention of his reader. Although many are converting from Islam to Christianity today, the truth is that Islam is not going away. This work provides the reader with a starting point that will allow them to begin engaging a culture. Too often, Arab people are feared more than loved.
The pastor would benefit greatly from this book. It would give him a good base by which to begin studying a people group in need of love and salvation. Over and over throughout the book Atallah reiterates the need to show God’s love to the people of Islam. He states that is God’s love that attracts and converts Muslims to Christianity; it is the idea of a God who loves and would give His life for them that raises their curiosity about Christianity.
A couple of things that stuck out after a reading of the book were: First, Atallah’s plea that we “Don’t lump all Muslims in one pile, especially if that pile is filled with hatred and violence.” (191) May we not be guilty of this! The second, he states that “Muslims are attracted by the love of Christ, but then see animosity among different Christian denominations. Muslims do not convert to a denomination; they convert to Christ.” (52)
Pastor, there is much to be gained by taking time read about the journey of one Muslim. Reading this book will give the reader an opportunity to learn more about a people group as well as themselves.
Essential — Recommended — Helpful — Pass It By
This LifeWay Pastors review was written by Chance Dodd.