Hussein Hajji Wario’s own story, Cracks in the Crescent (2009), is a truly remarkable testimony of God’s grace. Born and raised in Kenya, Wario grew up in a devout Sunni Muslim family, attended madrassa (Islamic primary school), and became a muadhin (a person who calls Muslims to pray). But just prior to beginning high school, Wario came to saving faith in Jesus Christ, a conversion that both changed his life forever and the world he lived in immediately.
Wario endured more than five years of persecution. His family rejected him, more than one brother attempted to beat him, a sister tried to poison him, members of his small tribal community berated him, chased him, threw rocks at him, stole his property, lied about him, and conspired with local authorities to arrest or otherwise harass him. While his family enjoyed financial means they refused to continue supporting his education. Yet God provided finances, a few Christian friends who protected and discipled him, and an amazing resolve to follow Christ at any cost.
How Wario acquired copies of the Scripture, growing up in a Muslim community, let alone heard about the truth of Jesus and eventually received Him, is an incredible demonstration of God’s providence. From a memory seared for life by emotional and physical travail, Wario relates the potentially life-threatening experiences he faced, simply because he decided not to be a Muslim.
Apologist Ravi Zacharias said that a person must be free to disbelieve or he or she is not truly free. This is Wario’s story. Though the Kenyan national constitution guaranteed his civil right to freedom of religion, his religious community recognized no such liberty. For his family, for his tribal relatives, for his fellow students at several schools, Wario’s rejection of Islam in favor of Christianity was tantamount to treason and deserving of forced re-conversion to Islam—or death.
When despite all odds Wario graduated at the top of his class he obtained employment translating the Orma language. And he emerged as a notable debater with Muslim contacts and clerics who would at least listen and perhaps respond without violence. A short time later through another series of providential provisions Wario secured a passport, traveled to the United States, and eventually completed a Bachelor’s Degree in Religion at Hope College in Michigan. As a 30-something Wario now lives in the United States and travels and speaks regularly about Islam and Christianity.
This book is both engaging and moving. You cannot learn about the challenge, risk, and total commitment of Wario’s young Christian life without comparing it to your own, which if it’s like mine, entailed no persecution and certainly no threat to life or limb. Reading the book makes you grateful once again for spiritual liberty in Christ and for political/personal liberty in a free society.
Wario concludes with two useful chapters examining controversial and vastly important topics: the Islamic depiction of Jesus Christ and the Islamic presentation of Prophet Muhammad as the Promised Comforter (the Holy Spirit). With his understanding of the Qur’an and the aHadith (sayings of Muhammad) as well as the Bible, Wario provides an articulate and concise resource for anyone wishing to learn more about Islam and how to speak respectfully and lovingly, but accurately, with Muslim friends.
I highly recommend this book. I cannot say that it is “enjoyable” to read because much of Wario’s story is heart-wrenching. But his story is an authentic reminder that God is great and his Son Jesus died and rose again for all who seek and received him. It’s also a reminder that American Christians must become wiser and more conversant in the ways of Islam so that we may properly engage Muslims spiritually and politically at home and abroad.
© Rex M. Rogers – All Rights Reserved, 2010
This blog may be reproduced in whole or in part but with a full attribution statement. Contact Dr. Rogers or read more commentary on current issues and events at www.rexmrogers.com or follow him at www.twitter.com/rexmrogers.
I’ve read more than one column written by an American Christian decrying Middle East Islamic violence in reaction to recent cartoons of Muhammad in the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten. I understand their criticism of the violence. It saddens me too, and I agree that it should be condemned by all good thinking people worldwide.
I also understand the Christian writers’ disagreement with certain basic tenets of Islam. My Christian theology doesn’t match Islamic theology either. I understand the writers’ tendency to list differences in Muhammad and Christ, for the differences define the distance between man and God.
I also understand the shake-your-head amazement at what many Americans, of the Christian faith or not, consider the emotional Muslim over-reaction to twelve cartoons. We can’t comprehend it. We’ve weathered The Last Temptation of Christ, The Da Vinci Code, postmodern sacrilegious art, and the ACLU’s latest pique about the Ten Commandments or Nativity scenes on courthouse lawns. It’s not that we don’t care about our faith or its icons. It’s just that we’ve learned a little bit about living in a religiously pluralistic democracy.
But there is one thing I do not understand—smug condemnation. What I must caution, at least for myself, is a too self-righteous response. Sadly, tragically, history offers us way too many examples of people acting just as emotionally, just as violently in the name of Christianity. They’ve tortured, they’ve crusaded, and they’ve killed unjustly. I don’t think this fact besmirches Christian truth or the character of God, but I do think it should cause us to speak with a bit of humility. People are people, Christians included, and those who name the name of Christ have not always acted in a Christ-like manner.
So I am not condoning violent Muslim reaction to cartoons, nor am I saying Christianity is anything less than a faith that focuses upon the Sovereign God of the Bible, the Creator God of the Universe. I’m just saying Christians don’t always act like Christians, me included.
© Rex M. Rogers - All Rights Reserved, 2006
*This blog may be reproduced in whole or in part with a full attribution statement. Contact Dr. Rogers or read more commentary on current issues and events at www.rexmrogers.com or follow him at www.twitter.com/rexmrogers.