Islam and Christianity: Looking at the Numbers

There were two recent news items which had to do with Islam. The first seemed to indicate that Islam is in the ascendency, while the second gave a slightly different perspective.

The first story involved a statement from the Vatican which said that for the first time, Muslims now outnumber Catholics. Muslims make up 19.2 per cent of the world’s population, compared to Catholics who make up 17.2 per cent. This is mainly due to demographics: Muslims tend to still have large families, while Catholics are having much smaller families. Of course if all Christians are considered together, they make up 33 percent of the world’s population, or about 2 billion people. By contrast, there are around 1.3 billion Muslims in the world today.

The second story involved the baptism of former Muslim Magdi Allam by the Pope on Easter Sunday. This was a noted conversion which made world headlines. Allam, an Italian journalist and author, left Islam, renouncing it as a religion of violence. He said, “Upon my first Easter as a Christian I have not only discovered Jesus, but I have discovered for the first time the true and only God”.

But there is a third story about Islam that most of the mainstream media is not reporting, and that is a very significant story indeed. It involves not just the conversion of one Muslim, like Allam, but many, indeed millions. The truth is, there has recently been a tsunami of Muslim converts to Christianity.

In a recent article Andrew Walden offers some amazing statistics: “In every hour, 667 Muslims convert to Christianity. Every day, 16,000 Muslims convert to Christianity. Every year, 6 million Muslims convert to Christianity.” These are some remarkable figures indeed.

As already mentioned, the rise in numbers in Islam is mainly due to demographics, not conversions. “This is more than the normal flow between two large religious communities. Islam can point to little in the way of recent conversions. Its claim to be the world’s fastest-growing religion stems mostly from the high birth rate in Islamic countries, whose infant mortality rates have been cut by the introduction of Western medicine. Christian growth is based on adult conversion. As leading Christian evangelist Wolfgang Simpson writes, ‘More Muslims have come to Christ in the last two decades than in all of history’.”

Walden looks at a number of Muslim countries where significant conversion rates to Christianity are occurring. He also looks at Western nations where Muslims are leaving their faith: “Islam is also losing adherents in areas where Islamist harassment is heavy on the streets. The London Times estimates 15% of Muslims living in Western Europe have left Islam – 200,000 in the UK alone. Those who leave often face harassment, threats, and attack.”

In another recent article Joel Rosenberg also picks up on this issue, with what he calls the “untold story” of Muslims leaving the faith in droves. He says, “The God of the Bible is moving powerfully in the Middle East to draw men, women and children to His heart and adopt them into His family in record numbers. More Muslims have come to faith in Jesus Christ over the last thirty years – and specifically over the last seven to ten years – than at any other time in human history. There is a revival going on among the ancient Catholic, Coptic, and Chaldean churches. Today, the Church is being truly resurrected in the lands of its birth.”

He examines a number of Middle Eastern nations, and presents some encouraging figures. Consider some cases: “In Afghanistan, for example, there were only 17 known evangelical Christians in the country before al-Qaeda attacked the United States. Today, there are well over 10,000 Afghan followers of Christ and the number is growing steadily.”

In Uzbekistan there were no known Muslim converts to Christ in 1990, but now there are more than 30,000. In Egypt more “than 1 million Egyptians have trusted Christ over the past decade or so, report Egyptian church leaders. The Egyptian Bible Society told me they used to sell about 3,000 copies of the Jesus film a year in the early 1990s. But in 2005 they sold 600,000 copies, plus 750,000 copies of the Bible on tape (in Arabic) and about a half million copies of the Arabic New Testament.”

In Sudan, despite “a ferocious civil war, genocide and widespread religious persecution, particularly in the Darfur region – or perhaps because of such tragedies – church leaders there tell me that more than 1 million Sudanese have made decisions to follow Jesus Christ just since 2001. Since the early 1990s, more than 5 million Sudanese have become followers of Jesus. Seminary classes to train desperately-needed new pastors are held in mountain caves. Hundreds of churches have been planted, and thousands of small group Bible studies are being held in secret throughout the country.”

In Iran in “1979 when the Ayatollah Khomeini led the Islamic Revolution, there were only about 500 known Muslim converts to Christianity. Today, interviews with two dozen Iranian pastors and church leaders reveals that there are well over 1 million Shia Muslim converts to Christianity.”

How is this all happening? “One of the most dramatic developments is that many Muslims throughout the Middle East and even in the United States are seeing dreams and visions of Jesus. They are coming into churches explaining that they have already converted and now need a Bible and guidance on how to follow Jesus. This is in fulfillment of Biblical prophecy. The Hebrew Prophet Joel told us that ‘in the last days, I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your old men will dream dreams, your young men will see visions. Even on my servants, both men and women, I will pour out my Spirit in those days….And everyone who calls on the name of the LORD will be saved.’ (Joel 2:28-32)”

Concludes Rosenberg, “Is life easy for these Muslim converts? By no means. They face ostracism from their families. They face persecution from their communities. They face being fired by their employers. They face imprisonment by their governments. They face torture and even death at the hands of Muslim extremists. But they are coming to Christ anyway. They are becoming convinced that Jesus is, in fact, the Way, the Truth, and the Life, and that no one comes to the Father in heaven except through faith in Jesus’ death on the cross and powerful resurrection from the dead.”

Muslims may be gaining numbers mainly because of larger families, but Christians are growing in number because of an actual encounter with the living Saviour who once was dead but now lives. These are exciting times, and in the midst of so much gloom and doom, we need to be aware of such good news stories. God is at work and is doing powerful things in the Muslim world. We need to keep praying, believing and acting to see more of this take place.

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40 Replies to “Islam and Christianity: Looking at the Numbers”

  1. Bill, what an irony. Islam, meaning submission, is morphing into “Thy will be done”.
    Stan Fishley

  2. That’s a terrific story Bill. Rosenberg is a great source on this issue and end times prophecy in general.
    Damien Spillane

  3. Great news, Bill – too good for the mainstream media!
    John Angelico

  4. Who cares that the main stream media doesn’t report these truly amazing facts. The angels in heaven have plenty to rejoice over and heaps of work to do. But so do we. I actually reckon its bettter to keep things hush, hush. I prefer the underground or hidden church to get on with being salt and light than revealing all its work. The Holy Spirit will reveal these statistics as He wills if we don’t put the pressure on the secular media to rush ahead to publish these statistics. But thankfully you have let us know Bill.
    Greg Brien

  5. I have e-mailed The News Hour with Jim Lehrer to ask the producer to consider doing a segment on the high Muslim to Christianity conversation rate. I am thrilled by the news, and am a foot soldier in the war against a hideous ideology.

    Alan Nichols, USA

  6. Bill, this is very encouraging news, not only for those in the interfaith war zone but for all followers of Jesus. We don’t hear about these things. But at least the mainstream media did report the Allam story widely. Let’s pray for him in the inevitable attacks, and that he will be able to continue his journalism role, and that the media will continue to report his positive comments about Christianity.
    Graham Keen

  7. Thanks Des

    Good questions. You can read about Rosenberg here:
    He seems to travel extensively in the Middle East. Walden is an American newspaper editor. The general figures of Muslims leaving Islam come from a Muslim source! If you click on the link to his article at the bottom of my piece, you can read of some of the sources he quotes from.

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  8. The worse thing we can do is accept Islam as a normal religion. By doing so we give it legimacy. We must denounce this evil 7th century ideology.
    Hitler said that when you lie tell big lies. Two of the biggest lies in history has been that islam is a Religion of Peace and Muhammad – the prophet of peace.
    The ten commandments teach: Thou Shalt Not Kill.
    The Koran teaches: Thou Shalt Kill Infidels.
    In Islam, it is a holy religious duty to murder infidels. The Quran is written in the language of terrorism. It is filled with numerous verses urging the Muslims to terrorize the non Muslims, kill them, and take possession of their lands and properties. The important points to remember is that whatever Muhammad did to terrorize the infidels was actually the actions of God. Among the many verses which exhort Islamist terrorism, the following verses stand out as naked aggression of Allah/Muhammad on the unbelievers: 2:63, 3:151, 8:12, 8:60, 8:59, 9:29, 9:50 9:55, 11:102, and 17:59.

    Larry Houle

  9. Could it be that these converts to Christianity can now see that the Religion of Peace is actually a big lie? Let’s hope that all Muslims find out that Islam, with all it’s violence and mayhem, is actually the Relgion of Satan.
    Philip Saenz

  10. well i dont want to debate anything despite the fact that i am deeply offended by some of the comments …
    but i just wanted to point out a FACT that has not been mentioned so far on this page … the fact that Muslims do believe in Jesus and in Mary … as a matter of fact they believe that Jesus will return … it doesnt seem like too many people are aware of that.
    Mohammed El Jundi

  11. This is indeed very encouraging. I guess it shows once again one of the (many) major differences between Islam and Christianity: Islam seems to be more a political ideology (one that seems to strangle human freedom, and suffocates all potential competition); whereas Christianity is a religion, which promotes human freedoms. Muslims are converting to Christianity in their millions because they can see through the suffocating veil to the true freedom found only in salvation through faith in Jesus Christ. They have experienced the hopelessness and now they want the only true hope available to mankind.
    Craig Manners

  12. Thanks Mohammed

    Yes some of the comments have been phrased a bit more harshly than I might have, But the real issue, as you hint at, is who is Isa (Jesus)? Islam says Jesus is no more than a prophet (Sura 5:75) whereas Christianity says he is part of the triune Godhead (Father, Jesus and Holy Spirit – not Father, Jesus and Mary as Islam thinks the Trinity means). Islam denies that Jesus died on the cross and rose again. This is the heart of the Christian truth claims. Yes Muslims believe in Mary, (but wrongly as part of the trinity). Yes Jesus is coming back again, but not to convert the world to Islam as Muslim believe. So yes, while there is some common ground between Christianity and Islam, there are some major differences as well.

    Interestingly, the Koran does speak of Jesus as the Messiah (Sura 3:45), something it does not say about Muhammad or any other prophet. But thanks for your comment.

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  13. Bill, thanks for the article; it is indeed encouraging. I think we overstate Islam’s impact; your article is proof of that, in a sense.

    Mo, thanks for your input. I’m sorry that you have been offended by some of the comments. We Christians don’t always represent Christ well, and that should bother everyone here. It does bother me, although I am certainly most guilty of it. (Mo, Please don’t visit Larry Houle’s site. It is repulsive.)

    Simon Kennedy, VIC

  14. Bill, Muslims don’t believe in Mary as part of the trinity as you said. The trinity is not a part of Muslim faith at all.
    As for Muslims only believing in Jesus as a prophet and not something greater, this is because the prophet Muhammad tells us that “Do not exceed bounds in praising me, as the Christians do in praising Jesus, the son of Mary, by calling Him God, and the Son of God; I am only the Lord’s servant; then call me the servant of God and His messenger. “.

    And a word of advice to everyone who thinks that Islam is a “hateful ideology” and “the religion of satan” and whatever. Please don’t get your information from Geert Wilders and Evangelist rightwingers. I’m not saying get it from an Islamic source either since they will be biased as well. But go read an objective source, like read the Koran for example.

    DId you know that the one of the prophet’s teachings is “When the bier of anyone passeth by thee, whether Jew, Christian or Muslim, rise to thy feet.” Apart from the literal meaning of this quote, it means that we should respect everyone regardless of their faith. My point is we are not hateful people.

    I’m not saying I want you to convert, that’s up to you and everyone is free to be whatever they want – christian, jew, buddhist, atheist, whatever. I mean I like watching basketball, but that doesn’t mean people who prefer watching cricket are devils … not sure if that’s the greatest analogy but anyway I think you get my point.

    Mohammed El Jundi

  15. Thanks Mohammed

    What I meant was that is how Muslims usually understand the Christian doctrine of the Trinity.

    As to Jesus, I would encourage you to read the Injil (the Christian Gospels). I have several copies of the Koran and do read it, so I hope you read the Gospels and see what this Jesus is really all about.

    And concerning hate or violence, you are right to ask people to read the Koran. But it is true that many suras do clearly teach violence, and even death, against the infidel, in contrast to what Isa told his followers. Jesus said love your enemies, and pray for those who mistreat you. The Koran, the example of Muhammad and his followers, and the hadith all offer a marked contrast, where violence can be used against the non-believer. So there are some major differences here.

    Thanks again

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  16. Bill, as I said in my initial reply. I’m not looking to get into a debate here as I already know that we could go on forever and nobody is going to change their mind at the end so why bother. Suffice to say that I am a Muslim and I never slaughtered an infidel nor do I plan on it.

    All I am asking for is that people stop being so hard on Islam and make a better effort to understand it, rather than just slap labels on something they hardly know anything about except for what the likes of Pat Robertson and Geert Wilders tell them.

    Otherwise, do not blame the average Arab or Muslim when he says he hates America – because he is using the exact same logic being those who judge an entire religion based on the actions of a few followers.

    Mohammed El Jundi

  17. Hi Bill
    We are living in such exciting times as you say, and I believe in my heart that “God” is bringing us to our knees and we all need to do our part and respect each other’s beliefs and love as “Jesus” loves. I enjoyed reading the comments between yourself and Mo and my spirit soars because you can both have difference’s of opinion and respect for each other.
    Rae Wallace Devonport, Tasmania

  18. Dear Mohammed

    You say “everyone is free to be whatever they want – christian, jew, buddhist, atheist.” Is this true in Muslim countries? No. Islam is forced upon people in many Muslim lands and they are certainly not free to convert to Christianity.

    Yet there is nothing man can do to reject his Son Jesus, as is evidenced by this great news that millions of Muslims are converting to Christianity.

    Think about the odds of this happening, when you have Islamic governments and cultures making it as difficult as possible for anyone to hear the Gospel of Jesus, let alone to be able to publicly respond to it.

    The Holy Spirit is active in Islamic countries in a mighty way and man cannot stop him.

    May our merciful and gracious God open your eyes and your heart to the truth Mohammed.

    Craig Manners

  19. Thanks again Mohammed

    But you seem to enjoy the debate, both here and on your blogsite. And many Muslims do come to believe in Jesus, as this article has noted. And many of those people that you claim are being hard on Islam have very good reason to do so. While we are glad that you and perhaps most Muslims are not flying airplanes into buildings and killing innocents in suicide bombings, far too many Muslims are. What are you doing to publicly criticise those activities Mohammed? It seems as a Muslim you have to take some ownership in all this. Thus Westerners and non-Muslims have every right to be concerned about what is being done in the name of Islam around the world. And those concerns and discussions should be freely allowed to take place.

    And you say “we are not hateful people”. You personally may not be, and many other Muslims may not be, but with all due respect, a quick visit to your blog will certainly see some hatred, especially toward Israel, coming out of your many links at least. So while we must treat every person as an individual, considering their differences, there is clearly a hatred of the West, of Israel, and of Christians, coming from many Muslims. Many former Muslims have carefully documented this. So these are still ongoing areas of concern, areas we cannot just minimise in some vague effort to just all get along.

    Thanks again for writing.

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  20. Hi Bill,

    Your article is very encouraging, my spirit soars when I see God at work. I am also thankful for your understanding of the Quran. It does teach that the trinity is God, Jesus and Mary, which of course, is a lie in the eyes of Christians as well, but we should be ready to teach our Muslim friends, because if they are genuine, they do want to worship God, but don’t have all the information.

    I can testify about what God is doing in Iran. I am not Iranian, but I do speak some Farsi and attend an Iranian church. It is truly amazing to see how fast this church is growing and the love these people have for God’s Word and we are just in a small part of Sydney, Australia!

    God is truly great, the Holy Spirit never rests and Jesus is glorified. Praise be to God!

    Paul Harris

  21. Rae Wallace says “we all need to do our part and respect each other’s beliefs”. There is a difference between showing respect for a person and showing respect for their beliefs. Whilst Christians should certainly respect all people, we should by no means respect other beliefs.

    Ewan McDonald.

  22. Mohammed,
    You write “stop being so hard on Islam and make a better effort to understand it…”
    I ask how may we do this when all we hear is hate filled diatribe from noted Imams etc…
    The Muslim community gives assent to violence simply by its silence.
    There is a lack of trust, your own theology advocates that it is fine to tell a lie to an unbeliever if the proper (in Islamic terms) end results are achieved.
    Jim Sturla

  23. Thanks Mohammed,

    For God so love the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. Therefore ask yourself if you do not give the glory due to His name what will you gain? For man is destined to die once, after that to face judgement. I beseech you to take heed into what has been said unto you, ought to know that man is not justified by the works of the law but by faith of Jesus Christ. What does it mean to insult the spirit of grace and to trample the Son of God? For it is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God!

    Babatundesunday Teniola

  24. Hi Bill, I have just logged on to your website,and noticed the dialogue between muslim and christian men.
    I truly know what it is like to grow up believing in a God of whom I was so scared of offending in a religion of fear, (not muslim). THEN, one day I cried out to God even saying, I didnt know if I believed in Him anymore, I then felt the most loving presence surround me and I knew He was real. Then I found out about Jesus and His amazing Love, and this Great love I know has never left me.
    Father Son and Holy Spirit have been my companions for 42 yrs now, and I have only just begun to know Them. They are so kind and good and faithful, acsessable 24/7,What a privalege…
    Angela McAdam

  25. An earlier comment stated, “as a matter of fact Muslims believe that Jesus will return.” Doesn’t Islam preach that the Jesus of the Qu’ran will assist Al-Mahdi in killing infidels during the end times? This is not the Jesus Christians know. Allah is perceived by his followers to be a God who is too superior to his people to have a personal relationship with them. The God of the Bible is a God who created his people so that he could love them and share his heaven with them. The God of the Qu’ran seems to use fear as the way to gain and keep followers, and promotes deceit and even killing in his name. These are all qualities of the Bible’s Satan as well as historical tyrants such as Hitler. There is some great research on the stunning parallels between the Bible’s prophesies about the anti-Christ and the Islamic prophesies about Al-Mahdi. It’s impossible to ignore the parallels between the Qu’ran’s end time prophesies and the Bible’s end time prophesies. I don’t say these things to offend anyone, but in hopes that people will research some of these matters for their own sakes so they can decide what kind of God they want to live with eternally. Tough times are upon us and ignorance and blind following are tools of evildoers. Christians should continue to spread the good news about Christ. Many of us may die in his name, but true followers and believers will never kill in his name. As a result we will spend life eternally in his kingdom of peace. These are the times to save as many people as possible by spreading God’s Word and teaching about his love for ALL of us. This article is great news.
    Pat McCarthy

  26. Very good article. All the truth is shown. I’m impressed by this article, being a follower of JESUS CHRIST in Pakistan. I must tell you guys many conversions are being done here but in secret. Keep up the good work Bill. GOD bless you.
    Joshua Kami

  27. I wish I could be a bit more academic in my words, trying to describe my personal life experience into islamic world and muslim society… Unfortunately my english is poorer than a fifth grade and so, I will just let all of you know that leaving islam was, is, the greatest moral achievement of my humble being and doing this i had touch the HOPE, the true one. The hardship of my “apostate” is into the true meaning of Christianity, which is forgiveness… even to what only satan would love. Peace above all, and HOPE.
    A Gabriel

  28. Bill,
    Thank you for giving us so much hope and joy from the impact of our Lord.

    Many muslims want to kill christians. They think God wants them to do this. Our God is a god of love and hates murder to the point he even hates anybody even becoming angry at others because he too considers that murder. Muslism were behind 9/11 and are behind many tortures and murders in many countries including Egypt just as Bill says. More and more testimonies come to us of how cruel and evil some muslims have been to some christian believers just for the mere fact that they are christians. There are some people in Islam that do have a good heart but those who do are blind to the murders and tortures of christian believers. The Qu’ran is obviously telling people to love but to love muslims and not christians and a good God would never say that because from the beginning God has been good.

    Ingrid Segarra

  29. this is great story Bill.I feel excited when reading this story..i proud of you and your words and the answers that you give to Mohd..Perfect answer..but do you know? i want to be like you Bill..haha..but i want to here your answer about this..
    1)there are a lot of people dont believe in Jesus even you tell them, how do you make them believe it?
    2)there are some people even my friend convert to others religion?do you thinks they dont believe in Jesus anymore?
    3)related to question number you make them believe and praise Jesus agian?
    Henry Belek

  30. Thanks Henry

    But we can’t make anyone believe. All we can do is point people to Jesus, tell them the good news, and try to show others what Christ looks like in our daily lives. And we certainly can and should pray for our non-Christian friends. But it is up to others to decide if they want to also follow Christ, or to reject him.

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  31. Bill, it is great to read that muslims are understanding the short comings in their faith and understanding Christ. Learned Muslims respect Christians b’coz of their forgiving and calm nature. Even they in private concede that Christianity is the right path. They are weak hearted and cannot undergo persecution and wrath of the extremist element around them. We have to only pray to the almighty to reveal himself to them and give them the strength to overcome fear. Praise the Lord.
    William D’Souza

  32. i recently converted from muslim to christian. And I’m happy that i found jesus christ who is the true god. Muslim people and religion is narrow minded and suffocating. All the muslim people are involved into violating activity. Even i am threat by my parents that they will kill me if i change my religion so i have to hide the fact from them. That’s why i don’t like muslim religion as well as people.

  33. Thanks NS – I usually require a full name, but I know how dangerous it is for Muslims to leave Islam. Praying for you.

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  34. Dear Bill,
    please fogive my poor english 🙂
    I am a muslim lived and raised in the middle east. I had many christian friends and I consider them just like my brothers. I have many questions about christianity, I didn’t ask my christian friends because I don’t want to bother them or maybe they don’t have answers. first question, does jesus say literally I am the son of God in the bible? if yes, why didn’t God created him like Adam without mother? Second question, If I want to ask the God a help, which one should I ask? the spirit? the son? the father? Third question, If jesus is a son o God then has common charachraristics with the god, but was Jesus sleeping and eating like us?
    please don’t consider my questions a part of debate I am just a normal curious person 🙂
    Nizar Fayz

  35. Thanks for your questions Nizar. Let me try my best to give the Christian answer to them. Jesus is often referred to as the Son of God, and called the Son of God. This is something he never denies or discourages. See for example:
    Matthew 8:29
    Matthew 14:33
    Matthew 27:43
    Mark 1:1
    Luke 1:35
    John 1:49
    John 20:31

    And Jesus repeatedly calls God his Father. Here are just a few of many such verses:
    Matthew 7:21
    Luke 22:29
    John 14:7
    John 14:21
    John 15:23

    Christians believe there is one God, in three persons: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. All are equally God, all are eternal, all are sinless, and all are the God whom we worship. So the Son has always existed, yet he became like us so that he might save us. Thus he became a man to reach all men. So he was born and grew up as a normal human. We believe Jesus therefore had his eternal divine nature, but also a human nature when he walked this earth.

    One can pray to all three members of the godhead, but often we put it this way: pray to the Father, through the Son, by means of the Holy Spirit.

    As to your last question, I already mentioned this above. We believe Jesus is fully God, but he became fully man 2000 years ago. So he was a real man while on earth (eating, drinking, sleeping, etc), but he did not stop being God while living among us.

    I speak to this a bit more here, and how the Christian understanding differs from the Islamic understanding:

    Thanks again for your questions.

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  36. I really appreciate your swift reply and thanks for answering my questions.
    Your said they are all equally God. But God created the son and the spirit. what I understood from your answers that the son and the spirit are here to help us. But can’t God who created the universe and atoms listen to us and help us alone without like communication channels (Son and Spirit)? and last thing which one of the three created the heaven and the hell?
    Nizar Fayz

  37. Thanks again Nizar

    Neither Jesus nor the Spirit were created by God. Both are God. As we say, God is a triune being. He is one God, but in three persons: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. So all three are God, all three have always existed, and all three have had a role in creation. Look at the link I provided in my previous comment for more detail on this, and how Christianity differs from Islam here.

    To use an analogy, if we wanted to communicate to an ant, and have a relationship with an ant, how best could we do this? By becoming an ant, if possible, would be the way to go. The same here: If almighty God wants to communicate to mere man, and have a relationship with him, how might he do this? He became a man – that is, the Son Jesus did – so we might really know what God is like. When we look at Jesus we look at God. If you want to know what God is like, look at Jesus. So God took steps to bridge the gap between fallen and finite man, and perfect and infinite God: he became one of us, so that we might have our relationship restored to God.

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

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