People of the Book and Muslims Conference: Readying Adventists for the Muslim Millions Soon to Join the Church

Over the April 6-7, 2018, weekend, a seminar series titled “People of the Book and Muslims,” took place at the main auditorium of the Village SDA Church in Berrien Springs, Michigan. Joe Reeves, the Village Church youth pastor, cured me of my lethargy, when towards the conclusion of his introductory remarks announced almost nonchalantly that, the program will not be streamed “due to the sensitive nature of some of the material to be presented.” In addition, he added, no recordings or picture-taking of any of the events of the weekend was permitted.

This took me completely by surprise because the program was openly advertised in the community for all. I was attending the program in the twin roles of a reporter (for Spectrum) and one interested in the subject. Because of accuracy requirements for reporting, I had a note pad to jot down what I considered important, and my phone set to audio record. So, with this unanticipated prohibition ringing in my ears, I quickly turned off the recorder. But I was unsure whether note-taking counted as a violation of the no- recording rule. I convinced myself that it didn’t and resolved to take notes, howbeit shamefacedly, until somebody with authority instructed me otherwise. But no one did, so I continued taking notes through all the presentations.

In the end, I couldn’t find any good justification for the proscription to record. I found nothing any of the presenters said or shared that rose to the minutest level of “sensitivity” Pr. Reeves intimated. But it is what it is. So in the absence of any recording of the event, it is only my sanitized recollection and attestation of forthrightness that I’m left to offer about this truly informative conference.

Two speakers were earmarked for the Friday evening event. The first was Dr. Samuel Lumwe, Associate Director at the Global Center for Adventist-Muslim Relations (GCAMR), who started laying the foundation to the proposition that the SDA Church has a unique “mandate” from God to evangelize Muslims. He painstakingly showed how God’s dealings with Sarah, Haggai, and Keturah, the three wives of Abraham, prepared the Israelites to anticipate the first Advent of Jesus. In an equally meticulous exposition, Dr. Lumwe explained how the seven churches in Revelation, particularly the last, Laodicea (which he identified as the Adventist Church), is meant to prepare the world, including the 1.8 billion Muslims, for the second Advent. “God has given us the message and the power, and now we have to act,” he concluded.

The second speaker was Gabriela Phillips, the Director for Adventist-Muslim Relations (AMR) in the North American Division. Her style was autobiographical, describing her Saul to Paul-like warming up to her Muslim neighbors during her 12-year service in the Middle East. She drew out commonalities between Adventists and Muslims, observing that the large number of Muslims emigrating to the West is the church’s greatest opportunity to share our unique version of Christianity with this community. “Muslims will listen to us,” she intoned, “because their scriptures tell them to.”

The Sabbath program featured four speakers, four “how-to” breakout sessions, and a Q&A. The first presenter was Dr. Oscar Osindo, Associate Director at (ARM). He referenced the Qur’an, Surah 19:21, which announces the birth of Jesus. In this passage, the angel said:

Thus shall it be. Your Lord says: ‘It is easy for Me: and We shall do so in order to make him a Sign for mankind and a mercy from Us. This has been decreed.’

From this verse, Dr. Osindo identified Jesus as the personification of mercy, what he called “the mercy of God from God.”

Having thus linked the attribute of Mercy with Jesus in the Qur’an, he observed that mercifulness is a key characteristic of Christians — the merciful are blessed and promised “they will be shown mercy” (Mat 5:7 NIV). With the Qur’an and the Bible joined about Mercy, Dr. Osindo threads the needle through an even narrower opening by contending that Adventists, through our humanitarian outreach, especially during disasters, and our Three Angels Message, which shares things of eternal value, are indeed the merciful people both the Bible and Qur’an describe.

Next was the featured speaker, Dr. Petras Bahadur, a specialist in Urban Ministry who is the Director of GCAMR. Dr. Bahadur, an engaging presenter with an infectious passion about his topic, took the audience through a biblical tour of the various covenants God made with his Chosen ones, beginning with Abram and the Israelites whose abrogation opened the door for everyone.

He waxed poetic while elucidating on Surah 3:110, which references “people of the book.” Then he zeroed in on the statement “among them are some who have faith,” which he cross-referenced with the patient saints in Revelation 14:12 who “keep the commandments of God and have the faith of Jesus.” He clinched his delightful exposition by identifying the faithful in both holy books as Seventh-day Adventists. The Importance of going through this exercise was to show that Adventists are the spiritual Israelites, the remnants who Muslims are in search of for enlightenment.

The Sabbath afternoon program kicked off with a short presentation by the long-term Missiologist, Dr. Lester Merklin, who argued that the time has come to jettison the one-size-fits-all evangelistic model the church has used for decades and allow the context to determine appropriate approaches. He used the story of Jesus and the Samaritan woman at the well to demonstrate how Jesus worked with what was at hand.

Dr. Bahadur had a second turn at the lectern to talk about “Equipping Members to Reach Out.” It was during this time that he provided some head-turning statistics and projections about Muslims and Adventists. He asserted, for instance, that because of the confluence of contemporary geopolitical conditions in the Muslim world, massive numbers of the 1.8 billion Muslims are now moving to the West. He maintained that if the church prepares adequately to meet this influx, a minimum of 1%, but possibly up to 10%, could be predisposed to becoming Adventists in the next 5-10 years. This is a mindboggling 18 to 180 million new additions to Adventist pews from the Muslim world alone.

By midafternoon the conference attendees were primed to embrace their role as facilitators of the coming Muslim deluge to the Adventist church. What is needed now is to teach them how to engage Muslims. The stage was set by the program facilitators to provide hands-on training in proselytizing Muslims, in four breakout sessions on:

  • Jesus in the Qur’an
  • How to Live an Authentic Life as a Witness to Muslims
  • How to Establish a Local Ministry in Your Area. Field Tested Models in North American Context
  • Intercessory Prayer as an Outreach Model

The conference concluded after a Q&A session where the organizers fielded wide-ranging questions, from Islamic theology to the preparedness of the church for this mission. The five presenters at the conference had over 100 years of combined experience working with Muslims, and their vast knowledge on the subject showed. During the Q&A, small differences in approaches were evident among them, but overall, they were all confident that “something big” about the Adventist-Muslim encounter is just over the horizon. What’s needed is a church ready for the harvest. Only time will tell if this is hype, the perception of people too close to their subjects, or the real deal.

Matthew Quartey is a transplanted Ghanaian who now lives in and calls the Adventist ghetto of Berrien Springs, Michigan, home.

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I applaud the unbridled optimism of this conference on converting Muslims
to Adventism. Eighteen million to 180 million converts in the next ten years?
Really?? Maybe Adventism’s miserable misogyny would appeal to these people
who treat their own womanfolk so shabbily?

Was the heinous heretical headship dogma borrowed from the Qur’an??

You state that the FIVE PRESENTERS had over ONE HUNDRED YEARS
of combined experience working with Muslims.

Dare I ask how many hundreds/ thousands of converts/baptisms resulted from this
one hundred years of prodigious effort??

Past results would forecast future achievements!

One profound problem is that any Muslim who converts to another religion,
or even reverts to atheism is subject to the death penalty and is shunned/estranged
from his/her family. Dire consequences which deter even the most stalwart
wish for change/conversion…

The numerous horrific atrocities perpetrated in the name of Islam,
elicit barely a whimper
of reproach or condemnation
from the greater Islamic community.
Fear of reprisals is probably why most do not speak out.
This fear is pervasive —antagonizing the larger Islamic community can result in assassination.

Similarly, fear of vicious, vindictive reprisals would deter most Muslims
from engaging with Christians.

The Muslim community is virtually impervious to prosetytism by other faiths
since they ban churches/synagogues, any worship venue other than a mosque,
and bibles are,banned in most Islamic countries.

The cruel, malevolent SHARIA LAW is an affront to human dignity and human rights.
It is incompatible with the US constitution.

Will Old Testament polygamy as practiced by the Patriarchs, and pervasive in Islam,
be introduced into Adventism? Four wives??

Will our teenage daughters be subjected to genital mutilation?

Is this a perverted ploy by Ted Wilson, to,stack the decks against women’s ordination?
With an infusion of 18,000,000 misogynist Muslims we would never see an ordained
female pastor and women elders and women deacons would also be eliminated!

Look forward to segregated seating by sex, in the church sanctuary!


Thank you ezbord. Robin., you appear to show a more gracious spirit towards Muslims (the greater Islamic community) than you’ve shown, in the past, towards the apostle Paul. Surely that must count for something!

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SDA=People of the Book?

I challenge any SDA conference official, pastor, or elder to conduct a survey at SDA churches to see what % of members have read the whole bible ONCE in their life…or even the whole New Testament ONCE.

Also how enthusiastic are SDA members in welcoming Moslems and them becoming poor , blind , naked lukewarm Laodiceans who are in constant need of revival ,reformation and get out there and share the 3 angels message sermons???

The Adventist tendency of reading the denomination above all other followers of Christ and all other Christian groups into the scriptures, now including the Qur’an, is also something that I find problematic in this presentation. The faithful, pinpointed by the writer of Revelation and by the Muslim holy book between 1400-1900 years ago, amounts only to the SDA church? It seems enthusiasm makes a generous allowance for eisegesis.




The SDA churches in my area are too enmeshed in the idea of wanting to be seen as part of the “evangelical” tribe. It would seem very difficult to imagine that we would want to welcome such an overwhelming number of new members from a group that gets demonized constantly by politicians.

In my view, the ethos is one where we want to “win” people from other Bible believing churches. Muslims, secular people—not so much.

I grieve for a seeming inability to rise to the moment. Consider the irony of this conference—too controversial to be recorded or broadcast? That might prove my point.


I thought at first this must have been a post from April 1st that I had missed, and I wasn’t going to be made a fool. But apparently the author and the story are genuine.

I like those who think big, and would love to see Muslims find the Jesus of Christianity. Millions, and welcoming SDAs in the pews? I’ll say this much: good bye to any semblance of today’s GC. Imagine the representation! Imagine the vote! I wonder how settled Ted would be in his retirement. And beyond the GC, imagine how different the conversation would be among the angry bloggers within our ranks.



If the Apsotle Paul were alive today, he would be most uncomfortable residing in
London, Paris or New York. Misogynist, homophobic Paul would feel
most at home in Riyadh , Damascus or Teheran.

Likewise, all prospective Muslim converts
would readily ascribe to Paul’s injunction:

They already throw their gays off ten storey buildings,
so no need for Paul’s homophobic pronouncements.
Maybe they would feel right at home in Adventism?.


The whole article was mind-blowing, but this particularly caught my eye too…so now the Qur’an is referring to the SDA church too? I’m speechless!

Yes, it is always only the SDA church.:smirk:

Enthusiasm? Or delusion?

And this nonsense of other people referring to SDA’s as “people of the book”… has anyone ever heard a non-SDA refer to them as such? Most people don’t even know who they are.

As someone else said here, this almost sounds like an April Fool’s joke, it is so preposterous.


This is a well-written report.

I applaud the effort of the organizers and presenters. Nothing is ever achieved in life, especially things that are seemingly insurmountable, without the single-mindedness inherent in sustained enthusiasm, faith, vision and courage and the wherewithal to blast through the mountain of doubt.

However, the use of dubious exegesis is stupid. When people realize you fudged their scriptures to con them into joining your denomination, there’ll be no end to their bitterness against you.

Rather, give a cool glass of water and a hearty meal to those travelling through a barren land, and they will bless you. Along the way, who knows, they will reflect upon your good deed and “glorify your Father in heaven.” And that is enough.

Mat. 5:16



Not only fudged their scripture, but fudged the Christian scripture…
I don’t think the SDA church will ever understand this concept, or maybe they have no choice…it’s a foundational problem.


The internet is a dangerous place for your top-secret discussions about conquering the world to appear. In the cartoon “Pinky and Brain”, they were always careful to plan only at nights when all the world was sound asleep.


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I feel that we’re too busy arguing among ourselves about things such as WO, to welcome many new people - especially people who are not already Christians. And the seeming conceit of Adventism may well be offensive to many - reading things into the Bible that may or not be meant there, i.e. “we’re the remnant”, so you must choose us over any other form of Christianity.

Let us preach Jesus and the Gospel first without mentioning unique Adventist views of that.

And, BTW, we would do well not to refer to ourselves as “People of the Book”. Do you know how much scripture is read in other churches? At the Episcopal Churches where I’ve served, far more scripture is read, then preached about, than in many Adventist churches. We sound so conceited when we repeatedly find ways to assert that we are special and better.


Robin, with all due respect I urge you to make your thoughtful observations without so often raising the question of sexual orientation as part of that, although I totally agree with you about the inclusion of LGBT people into the Adventist church.

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Dr. SamuelZwemerspent 30 years as a missionary to Islam, prior to joining the faculty at Princeton. He was reasonably confident that he had converted 6 from Islam to Presbyterian Christain faith. BothNeal and Ted Wilson spent time in Cairo ask them on the likelihood of hundreds let alone thousands to Adventism, A Jewish form of Christianity. .


Blue sky thinking, or dreamers?

It is well known that people can make the Bible or the Quran say anything they want to believe in. Just because there are similarities in some textual positions doesn’t mean that people are going to change their tribal allegiances.

No doubt people from the Muslim side can use the same passages to argue that Adventists will all flock over to their side of the fence.

But then, amazing things have happened because an individual could not be constrained by the box that society had put them in. A visionary can gain a great following and achieve remarkable things, even though their vision is ill-founded. But a mass conversion to a belief system that is the polar opposite of their previous position must be a rare experience.


A discerning and respectful comment, Peter.
I often wonder what clues language provides to our deep inner frustrations and past experiences, but thankfully, the Lord can heal. Also, one (I) shouldn’t forget, “… man looketh on the outward appearance, but the Lord looketh on the heart”.

I agree also that our SDA trend of calming sole use of Christian wide titles such as “People of the Book” is harmful because it places ourselves above others and that fosters pride. Also it comes across that Muslims are actively seeking to be converted, which is not the case.


Does the 3 Angels messages lead to the SDA church?

  1. “Fear God”–All Christians and Muslims would agree
  2. “Give him glory”–All Christians and Muslims would agree
  3. “Hour of his Judgment as come”–Many Christians and Muslims believe in a coming judgment, either at death or the end of the world.
  4. “Worship him who make the heavens, earth…”–Most Christians believe God is the Creator. Muslims believe the Allah created the world in six days.
  5. “Fallen Fallen is Babylon…”–Most Christians and Muslims would agree that that world culture, society extending to many religious groups is broken and fallen from morality, truth and ethics.
  6. “Anyone who worships the Beast and its image…tormented before God forever”–Most Christians have no idea what this means. Most, even SDA’s, would be very reluctant to teach that the wicked are tormented with intense pain in flames before God while their smoke arises forever. Most Christians would be very reluctant to label the Beast as the Vatican. I am not sure that Muslims would be easily convinced that Sunday and the RC church is the great Beast, thus creating a large number converted to the SDA church.

There is a little known version of the quran where it is described as “people of the red book” :wink: