Middle East Resources

Muslims Converting to Christ: A Sign of the Times

Bassam Michael Madany

12 October 2020

Two years ago, I came across a work in French, by Mohamed-Christophe Bilek, an Algerian Christian. He was born in Algeria in 1950; was converted to the Christian faith at the age of 20 and baptized by an Evangelical pastor in 1970.

In 2013, he published, DES MUSULMANS QUI DEVIENNENT CHRÉTIENS - SIGNE DES TEMPS POUR L'EGLISE

(MUSLIMS WHO BECOME CHRISTIANS: A SIGN OF THE TIMES FOR THE CHURCH)

A review (in French) of Mr. Bilek’s book by LAURENT BASANESE, S.J. appeared on the journal of Pontificia Universitas Gregoriana in Rome, in April 2014.                                                

I consider this review, and Mr. Bilek’s book to be of excellent value in missionary work among Muslims.  What follows are some excerpts from that review.

“Mohamed-Christophe Bilek is well-known in France for his spiritual support and enablement of Muslims who manifest an interest in Christ and in the Christian faith, especially those seeking baptism. He was impressed by the lives of saints like Martin of Tours, Francis of Assisi, and Mother Theresa; which contributed to his conversion. He married a Muslim lady who respected his choice, and after thirty years, she received Baptism!

“Bilek is the founder of the Association for the Welcome of Inquirers; he uses a website that enables a Muslim inquirer to be in touch with a believer ready to answer any questions about the Christian faith.

“The book is the fruit of several exchanges and contacts with people in North Africa, the Middle East, and Black Africa. Most of all, Bilek shares his reflections gained from years of contacts with the Church in France.

“The book consists of three parts:

“The First Part deals with accounts of conversion to Jesus Christ, leading in most cases to baptism.

“The Second Part relates accounts of persons who reverted to Islam; and of those who may be labelled as “Imposters.” Also discussed are the means of conversion, such as Dreams and Visions, the Holy Scriptures, and Christian example.

“The Third Part deals with the author’s reflections based on the specific journey of each convert, as he or she, undergoes baptism, followed by struggles and persecution, leading to spiritual growth.

“The book ends with a consideration of God’s Plan for Muslims. The work is original, as it deals at the same time with the number of conversion accounts, and with an analysis of the testimonies.

“Finally, a lay Muslim convert, having taken account of the number of baptized Muslims, offers the Christian Community the following questions:

“How do we receive and welcome converts? What place they must be given? Are we fully aware of the difficulties converts encounter, not only on account of their leaving their former way of life, but also and above all, how to find a Christian community ready to welcome them?

“Three obstacles have been identified and must be surmounted by every Muslim desiring the Christian faith. They are the Qur’an, the Prophet Muhammad, and the Umma. Liberation from the latter one is the most difficult one, as it involves the family and Ramadan.

“Converts, considered by the Umma (the Worldwide Islamic Community) as apostates, must not continue to love the Muslim religion, since it was its sacred texts that hid the truth they have now confessed. The stakes are high!

“For those of us who have come out of Islam, following Christ has consequences. Ipso facto, it requires a break with he past, with family, with community, and with moral and spiritual certitudes. It’s much easier to remain a Muslim, believe me! There are numerous excuses for not making the rupture. It’s perilous to leave Islam, it may cost one’s own life!                    

“Not only are we despised and persecuted by our blood brothers as apostates, but we also incur the wrath of Allah and the worst of his punishments. Would our conversion be useless then, and the Christian faith, founded on the death and resurrection of Christ, an imposture? Not at all! 

 “Leaving Islam, we are simply consistent with the statement of Jesus: I am the Way, the Truth and the Life.” And whether we are baptized as Mohamed-Christophe, Maria-Aïcha, Joseph or Ali, it is quite freely that we have taken the only path that leads to the Father and the joy of knowing Him in eternal life.

“We face a real battle. They try to silence us, we who have left Islam; they want us to remain silent, since we are the only ones who can realistically tell the story of how Christians are treated in Islamic lands.  Persecution and insecurity remain in place for the 50,000 Christians in Algeria. There it is, my dear Western brothers and sisters, please welcome us, and help us, having crossed over to Jesus Christ and His Church.”                                                              

To round up the story of the Algerian’s conversion, the following are excerpts from an Interview he gave, one year after the publication of “MUSLIMS WHO BECOME CHRISTIANS: A SIGN OF THE TIMES FOR THE CHURCH”

Interview, Algeria, Berber, Nostra aetate, Berbers, Christianity in Africa, ex-Muslim, Berbers. Amazighs. History of Berbers. Cultural and Political Claims. Cultural and Berber Movement. North of Africa. Algeria. Morocco., Ex-Muslim Studies, Research Area: North Africa (Berbers / Imazighen, and Islam and Catholicism

North Africa had some very important churches like Carthage, and Christians ippo, and great saints like Augustine, Perpetua, Felicitas, and Cyprian. Yet indigenous Christianity was almost entirely absent from the region for centuries. Do you feel like that early history means much to the new Christians today? Or is it just an interesting but unimportant historical footnote?

The discovery of the African saints, and mainly the greatest of them, Augustine of Thagaste, is always vivifying and almost blissful: “If my distant ancestors were Christians, then there is no shame in being one” more than one convert has said to himself. Some have declared after their baptism, “I came back to the religion of my fathers!” But more generally speaking, ancient Christianity enables oneself to ask the question of freedom of choice. If my distant ancestors chose Islam freely, then I can make the same choice myself; but if this religion was imposed on him by the sword, then I do not commit a treason toward my tribe if I quit this religion.

Many Catholic priests in the West know little about Islam and evangelism. What advice would you give to the average priest in Lyons, Manchester, or Chicago who has a Muslim coming to mass or asking for a Bible?

Do the same thing as Saint Philip when he asked the Ethiopian “Do you understand what you are reading?” (Ac 8 :30) When I was young, I learned thirteen chapters of the Quran by heart, without understanding anything. In Islam, it is forbidden to seek to understand of the texts, it is not okay to ask questions. But in Christianity, it is the opposite: God want us to adore him in spirit and in truth, and He tells us that the truth will set us free. One must welcome the questions and inquiries of the Muslim who seeks the truth and we should not hide anything from him. 

I would like to know more about your website. Why did you start it? What is its purpose? What reaction have you received?

The Internet is wonderful because it reaches beyond borders and soon it will break the language barrier. Of course, you can find good seed as well as bad, but the Spirit guides the true children of God to find their Savior. We started at the beginning of 2005. Many slim countries are catching up.people have been led to baptism thanks to this modest website.  

To read an article related to this topic, on the Common Features in the Conversion of Muslims to Christ, http://www.unashamedofthegospel.org/common-features.cfm