Global Gates to Heaven or Hell?


The nature of gateways is that they swing both ways. Immigration has brought countless voices and influences to America since the first pilgrims stepped off the boat four hundred years ago. Each wave that washed across our shores prompted the previous generation of Americans to sound the alarm. This includes the justified fears of the Native Americans who watched pilgrims step ashore wearing what must have appeared to them like 17th century burkhas. Nativist fears were not entirely unfounded.

Just as the first English settlers forever changed a continent that had been undisturbed for millennia, so too did subsequent immigrant cultures. Protestants protested the Irish and Italian Catholics who came to our inner cities in the 19th century. The Irish gangs of New York and Italian Mafioso lent evidence to their concerns.

david-gatesToday these Irish and Italian immigrants are threads woven into the texture of American culture. Additional threads have come with Jewish refugees who fled Hitler’s Germany and Vietnamese boat people who escaped Communist Southeast Asia.
The truth is, every immigrant population poses a threat to the status quo, and the changes they bring to our national fabric are not without consequence. Whether they bring with them the violence and intolerant worldviews they are fleeing remains to be seen. But certainly they will bring change.

In his prophetic charge to the Church, Jesus said the gates of hell would not prevail against it (Matthew 16:18). As Christians this is our birthright, a pledge from the pioneer and perfecter of our faith. Whether we live up to that standard of perfection, however, is up to us.

Through the eyes of faith, Global Gates is choosing to see these immigrant populations as a gateway, an entry point for the gospel of Jesus Christ. This gateway holds the potential to light a new generation of immigrants – and through them – penetrate the homelands from which they come with the saving light of Jesus Christ. Rather than fearing the darkness that they represent, these missionaries are flooding that darkness with the light of Christ and dispelling the darkness with hope and redemption.

The Church today is faced with a challenge, and a choice. We can curse the darkness or pierce that darkness with flood lamps of gospel light and truth.

David Garrison
Director, Global Gates

For Future Generations

Last week I had the privilege of addressing a Wednesday night prayer meeting at the First Baptist Church of Arlington, Texas. It was a drizzly night, usually a guarantee that the mostly senior citizens who frequent these weekly prayer meetings would stay home. But this night was different.

My topic was “Muslim Movements to Christ.” By the time the service began, ushers were scrambling to pull additional chairs out of storage rooms as the sanctuary filled to capacity…and then some. Soon the room was filled with mostly silver haired saints, some of whom stood for more than an hour in the back of the hall to hear the good news that God does indeed love Muslims and is redeeming them in unprecedented numbers.

What brought these hundreds of retirees out on a rainy evening in the Texas heartland? Having an 84-year-old mother who continues to engage the world and actively participate in discipling emigrants through her own church home and food pantry ministry, I had a pretty good idea. They wanted to leave a better world for the next generation.

torchQuoting fellow historian Kenneth Woodward, octogenerian Martin Marty reflects, growing older “pits the temptation to terminal self-absorption against the opportunity to exercise continued care and concern for those generations moving behind us.”

Many of today’s senior citizens are choosing to look forward. They are exercising care and concern for those generations to whom they will pass the baton. Global Gates missionaries are largely a young generation of twenty and thirty-somethings. But their success in engaging the world’s least-reached peoples is fueled by a blessed synergy of collaboration with seasoned saints, godly men and women who come along side them to share their wisdom, their prayers, and their financial means for the sake of advancing the greatest gift we have, the gospel of Jesus Christ, to a new wave of Americans that God is bringing to our shores.

David Garrison
Director, Global Gates






Racing Into the Danger

It was fifteen years ago. Through the dust and death that filled New York City on Sept. 11, 2001, one inspirational image emerged. Scores of firefighters and policemen raced into the danger. Their selfless courage prompted them to overcome every instinct that would compel a normal person to turn and run the other way.

While thousands raced through the streets, fleeing for their lives as the towers descended, this group of heroes, firefighters and police officers, responded in the opposite way.

911I see the same sort of courage in Global Gates missionaries. While many sound the alarm of Syrian, Iraqi and Afghan immigrants coming to America, fearing the inevitable ISIS terrorist in their midst, Global Gates missionaries have made a different choice. Against what might be seen as a reasonable fear and aversion to the unknown, these young missionaries have moved with their children into neighborhoods filled with Yemenis, Iraqis, Afghans.

These missionaries are not naive or blind to the dangers. They begin and end every day praying for protection and fruitfulness. They ask the Lord to guide them to those men and women that Jesus called “persons of peace” (Luke 10), lost souls seeking a word of hope and salvation.

Just as America’s firefighters and police officers need and deserve our support, so too do these Global Gates missionaries. They need your prayers, your support, your encouragement as they overcome their natural fears and rush into the danger, and into the harvest fields.


David Garrison
Director, Global Gates


Half Empty or Half Full?

I’ve always been intrigued by how different people can see the same thing, and yet arrive at different conclusions. It’s like the old adage, “Is the glass half full or half empty?” Christians around the world are faced with a similar challenge today. The world is like a fruit basket turned over.

ForWater Pitcher many centuries now, Western Christians have scattered all over the globe. Along the way they have spread vast trading empires from the 18th century East India Trading Company to the far-flung impact of Coca-Cola, Apple, Microsoft, and Facebook. We are a global force, or at least a global seasoning that has flavored all the countries and cultures of the world.

Today the ends of the earth are coursing back in our direction. Arabs, Indians, Chinese, Turks, Bengalis, and Afghans are now flowing into our global gateway cities. The San Francisco Bay Area is now home to 80,000 Afghan immigrants. More than 15,000 Kurdish immigrants fill neighborhoods in Nashville, Tennessee. As many as two million Muslims now call Metro New York City home. Houston, Atlanta, Los Angeles, Toronto, Vancouver, Dallas, and Chicago have all been enriched by ethnic restaurants, worldviews, and traditions – enriched, that is, if you see the glass as half full.

As foreign missionaries who have spent years in India, Thailand, China, Egypt, and Tunisia, my wife and I can’t help but see this immigration as a blessing. Just look at the savings! After spending countless dollars and hours securing visas, boarding airplanes, learning languages just to be able to take the gospel to the ends of the earth, now the ends of the earth have come to us! What a blessing! God is saving us a fortune in time, effort, and dollars by bringing ambassadors from the world’s least-reached people groups into our cities, where we can love them, minister to them, and bring to them the wonderful news of God’s saving grace in Jesus Christ!

Half-empty viewers see it differently. They retreat to the suburbs, to gated communities, and Christian enclaves where they can shield themselves from the threat of non-Christian cultures with all their messy traditions and, well, lostness. To be honest, these half-emptiers aren’t crazy. Their distaste for non-Christian religions, worldviews, languages, and cultures is a logical, natural response. After all, a half-full glass is also, undeniably, half empty as well.

I suppose it comes down to faith. Faith after all is “being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not (yet) see” (Hebrews 11:1). Seeing the glass half full is seeing what is not yet, but what could be. What could be is a stream of lost, unreached individuals coming to our global gateway cities where they will be greeted by the gospel. Seeing the glass half full is seeing new disciples of Christ from Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist, and Jewish traditions enriching our Western communities of faith. Seeing the glass half full is seeing these new disciples of Christ taking the life-changing message of Jesus Christ back to their home communities on the other side of the globe, and igniting a global gospel awakening that Jesus called the Kingdom of God.

How about you? How do you see the changing world around you? Do you see it through the lens of how things used to be, how things have changed, or how things could be? Global Gates is anchored to the future hope, the faith in how things could be, if only we will seize the day that God has set before us. Global Gaters see the glass half full, and work to the day when that glass will be filled up with the gospel, filled to the brim, and overflowing.

David Garrison
Director, Global Gates


Advice for My Daughter

Earlier this month I was in Foz do Iguaçu an amazing city on the border of Brazil, Paraguay, and Argentina. Every morning I would walk across a bridge on the Parana River to speak for four hours to a gathering of young Paraguayan missionaries preparing for missionary service among Muslims. In the evenings I would return to address a similar three-hour gathering of Brazilian missionaries-in-training preparing to take the gospel into the far reaches of the Muslim world.
DG1Foz do Iguaçu is a perfect setting for such a training. The city on the southeastern stretch of Brazil’s Amazon jungle is now home to thousands of Lebanese and Bengali Muslim immigrants. Foz do Iguaçu is one of the hundreds of global gateway cities that God is opening up around the world, cities where Christians can openly reach Muslims with the gospel of Jesus Christ – and through these relationships, impact the ends of the earth from which they come.

One evening, before rising to address the several hundred Brazilian brothers and sisters who had gathered to hear me speak about Muslim movements to Christ, a lovely young woman approached me with a question. Looking up at me through earnest 24-year-old eyes, I couldn’t help but think of my own daughters aged 20 and 25. Through an interpreter, she asked me for advice. “God has put a love for Iranian Muslims on my heart,” she said, “Can you give me advice?”

“Run away, run fast, run the other direction!” This is what my heart cried out. This was my natural inclination, the advice I might have given to my own daughter, if I followed my natural paternal instincts. Instead, I told her of the wonderful work that God is doing among Iranian people, where more Muslims are coming to Christ today than anywhere else on earth. I told her of fruitful and courageous work by groups like Elam Ministries that has grown out of the Assemblies of God Church in Iran. “Oh,” she said with excitement, “I am from the Assemblies of God Church, too!”

I couldn’t protect her. I couldn’t promise her that she would be safe, or that she would be okay. But I could assure her that God was in control, that He loved the people of Iran, and that He was already at work among them, bringing countless thousands of them to faith and new life in Jesus Christ. She smiled, thanked me and dissolved back into the congregation. I whispered a prayer for her as she walked away.

Later this month my 20-year-old daughter, Amanda, will return from a summer of missionary work in India. I couldn’t help thinking of her, as I reflected on the dangers and promise of being on mission with God. I remembered vividly the feelings her mother and I felt when she boarded the plane to India. Launching our precious children into the darkness is one of the scariest feelings a parent ever experiences. But knowing that God is in control, that He was already at work among the people to whom He was calling them, meant it was going to be okay. In fact, it was the only way the kingdom of this world, the kingdom of darkness, would ever be shattered by the Kingdom of Light.

A young generation of Christian men and women all over the world are hearing that same calling from God. They don’t want to cower from the challenge of the world’s least-reached peoples that are immigrating to our cities. They are rising to the challenge, entering the cities, planting their lives among a people who have no hope of eternal life, unless we go. These missionaries need your prayers, your support, your encouragement. Will you join them…with your prayers, your investment in their lives and ministries? These missionaries are your sons, your daughters, your lights in the darkness.


David Garrison
Director, Global Gates

Global Gates Announces New Board Member

Global Gates is pleased to announce the addition of a new member to its board of directors. WilesCindy Wiles is a long-time missions leader and advocate from Arlington, Texas. Mrs. Wiles serves on the board of several ministries and is the founder and executive director of Restore Hope (, a globally focused church-based ministry that seeks to restore “hope to individuals and communities across the world through Christ-centered, church-based proclamation and service.”

Mrs. Wiles and her church have been long-time supporters of Global Gates. She comes to the board of directors with a wealth of experience in bringing the gospel to the world’s least-reached people groups in North America and around the world. Cindy’s husband, Dennis, is senior pastor of First Baptist Church of Arlington, Texas.

Hasidic Hope, by D. Moshel

We stand on a precipice. Messianic Judaism has been very successful, producing a small movement of born again believers among the Reformed, Conservative, and Secular Jewish communities. Now, we look towards the horizon to the Orthodox, Lit-vish, and Hasidic realms. If we are to effectively communicate the gospel to the Orthodox Jewish world, we need to adjust our presentation to Hasidic men and women; we must present the Bible not only in the larger Jewish sense, but in a definitively Hasidic sense. The Bible under the title Bris Lev, along with Rabbinic commentaries, must reflect the style of writing not only reflecting Hasidic content but Hasidic form as well.

HebrewMany organizations have presented the Bible with Hasidic content, while still lacking the Hasidic form. It is a form used by Paul in Galatians, the writer of Hebrews throughout the book, and in fact is the method of discussion we find in Jesus’s very own discussions throughout the Gospels. But our Bible has never been presented in form and content in a distinctly Hasidic Jewish way.

The most pressing need for effectively sharing the gospel with the Orthodox community is to change both the name and form of Holy Scripture, while retaining the content. Bris Lev replacing Brit Chadasha is the starting point for presenting the Bible to our Hasidic brothers and sisters. In order for them to hear and understand the good news of the gospel, we must be willing to surrender our Western formulations. This, I believe, is an important key to success in the years to come.

Global Gates announces new board member

John WhiteGlobal Gates is pleased to announce the addition of a new member to our board of directors. John W. White, III is the Chairman and Co-founder of Lifeshape, Inc., providing vision and strategic direction to lead the organization to glorify God by breaking the cycle of spiritual poverty. John and his wife, Trudy Cathy White, co-founded Lifeshape and Impact 360 Institute. Previously, he served in various roles within the International Mission Board for 20 years, including 10 years of service in the country of Brazil.

John and Trudy continue to work to encourage and develop leaders while intentionally maximizing their influence to impact culture globally. John also enjoys serving on the Board of Directors for WinShape Foundation.

They are the proud parents of four children, grandparents of 13, and members of McDonough Road Baptist Church in Fayetteville, Georgia.

John’s stated life focus is, “to know and love God with all my heart, mind, and body and to become more like Him in attitude and character each day.

Muslims turning to Christ – a global phenomenon

“written for the UK’s Premier Christianity magazine, June 2016”.

An unprecedented number of Muslims are becoming Christians. David Garrison, who has spent years researching the phenomenon, shares his findings.

Ten-year-old Nadia wasn’t surprised when her father signed her marriage contract, nor when she had to move in with her 20-year-old husband two years later. Nadia’s experience is not unusual in the Islamic Republic of Iran. It also wasn’t out of the ordinary when her husband became an opium addict (Iran has the highest rate of drug addiction in the world). Two of Nadia’s brothers also succumbed to drugs. One was sentenced to prison for killing a man in a drug-related dispute, the other committed suicide. One day Nadia’s cousin who had recently become a Christian quietly gave her a New Testament in the Persian language.

Nadia prayed, ‘Allah, show me your truth.’ As she read it, Nadia said, ‘I felt my heart open like an old door. Inside I felt very warm and thirsty. It was like drinking cool water, and I wanted to drink it all.

‘From that time on,’ Nadia recalls, ‘Jesus’ work started in me. It was a strange happiness like nothing I’d ever known.’ Within a week she’d led her husband and three children to faith in Jesus.

The good news gets better. What Nadia experienced has been happening to thousands of other men and women throughout Iran (see Real Life, p.22), and across much of the Muslim world.

Collecting testimonies
Five years ago, I began an investigation into increasing reports of Muslim movements to faith in Christ. (I defined a movement of Muslims to Christ to be at least 100 new churches started or 1000 baptised believers, all of whom have come to Christ over the past two decades.) I wanted to understand how and why entire communities were not only turning to faith, but being baptised – an act of confessional obedience that could earn them the death penalty under Islamic law.

My survey took almost three years and led me into every corner of the Muslim world. I travelled more than a quarter-million miles, from West Africa to the Indonesian islands. In the process, I visited 44 movements, each with more than 1,000 Muslim-background believers in Jesus Christ who had been baptised as a defiant act of their new-found faith. With the help of dozens of on-the-ground collaborators, I was able to gather more than 1,000 interviews with these courageous men and women.

Akbar al-Masih
I met Akbar al-Masih in the crowded Pakistani city of Rawalpindi. Akbar was a Muslim-background believer from Afghanistan. Like many Pushtun people, Akbar’s life had been torn apart by war. After the 2012 US invasion, Akbar joined millions of refugees who streamed into Pakistani slums and refugee camps. It was in Pakistan that Akbar met a Christian family who discipled him. I asked Akbar to tell me how he had come to faith in Jesus.

‘My name at birth was Muhammad Akbar, which means “Muhammad is the Greatest”. Between the wars, I was in an open country looking for a job. One day I came upon a cinema showing a movie about the life of the prophet Isa (Jesus). I watched the movie alone, and learned many things that I did not know. I saw how they beat Jesus and nailed him to a cross. I said to myself, “Now Isa will call down fire from heaven to destroy them!”

‘Instead, Isa looked down at them with compassion, and said, “Father, forgive them. They do not know what they are doing.”

‘In my heart I said, “That is for me.” That is when I became a follower of Isa, and changed my name to Akbar al-Masih (the Messiah is the Greatest).’

The core question, from among a list of things I asked them, was, ‘What did God use to bring you to faith in Jesus Christ? Tell me your story.’ Christmas day found me in the Horn of Africa seated on the floor with 20 leaders from an ancient Muslim community. I listened in disbelief as they told me of their discovery that Isa al-Masih(Jesus Christ) was God among us; the only way of salvation. ‘C’mon,’ I said incredulously, ‘how many of you have been baptised?’ I knew that this act of commitment separated casual fans of Jesus from actual followers. To my amazement, 19 of the 20 leaders raised their hands. One of them laughed and pointed to the lone unraised hand: ‘He will be baptised next week.’

The next day a sheikh named Hasan told me his story. ‘An African evangelist gave me an Injil  (New Testament) in the Arabic language. Because the Injil  was in Arabic, God’s language, I knew that it must be true, so I began to read it.’ That night Hasan had a dream. ‘I saw a tall minaret. I was disturbed to see a man with an axe chopping the minaret down. When I looked closer, I saw that the man…was me!’

The shock of the dream awakened the sheikh in a panic. ‘I had the same dream three times,’ he said. ‘The next day, I found the evangelist who had given me the Injil.“What does this dream mean?” I demanded. He looked at me and smiled. “You will win many sheikhs to faith in Jesus Christ.”

Today, Sheikh Hasan travels from village to village, speaking to sheikhs, who are leaders of the Islamic community. ‘So far,’ he told me, ‘I have led 400 sheikhs to faith in Jesus Christ.’

A unique movement
As a Church historian, I needed to know if what is happening today was unique, or if it was something that had occurred periodically in the 14 centuries since Islam began. What I discovered was that the flow from one religion to the other has been almost entirely from Christianity into Islam. So what we’re seeing today in the Muslim world truly is unique.

Over the course of those 14 centuries, tens of millions of Christians have been swallowed up into the Muslim world. Most of the combatants that populate such groups as ISIS, al-Qaeda and Hamas all had ancestors who came from the very heart of Christendom.

There were only five movements of Muslims to Christianity prior to the 20th century. But in just the first 12 years of the 21st century, we can document 69 movements of Muslims to faith and baptism in Christ Jesus. Several of these contemporary movements number in the tens of thousands.

What is happening in the Muslim world in our day that is prompting so many to leave Islam to embrace, at the risk of death, a new life in Jesus Christ?

Many point out how the Muslim world today is churning. Shi’ites and Sunnis, Arabs and Persians, extremists and moderates, militants and pacifists, unemployed youth and disenchanted women all give evidence to a dissatisfaction with the unfulfilled promise of Islam. Tens of thousands of Muslims are expressing their displeasure by migrating to the West, others foment movements within their own countries through what has been termed the Arab Spring. But violence and turmoil are not new to the Muslim world. Their history is full of it. What is different today?

Amaal was a 23-year old Arab Muslim girl with a smile that could light up a room. Her friendship with a young Christian family led her to faith in Jesus Christ.

Amaal immediately shared her new faith with her mother. Afterwards Amaal’s mother said, “I should kill you for this.” Amaal was stunned.

Amaal left home and found a job in a resort hotel, only to have her boss attempt to blackmail her in exchange for sexual favors, prompting her to flee again.

Some years later I found Amal hiding in the home of a kind Muslim couple. The next day, I gave Amaal a New Testament and wondered what I could share with this sister whose faith had cost her so much.

I didn’t have to wonder long. “Listen to this,” Amaal said,

“Be on your guard against men; they will hand you over to the local councils and flog you…. When they arrest you, do not worry about what to say or how to say it. At that time you will be given what to say, for it will not be you speaking, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you. (Matt. 10:17-20)

Amaal’s eyes glistened with tears. “He knew,” she exclaimed, “Jesus knew!” For Amaal, it was enough. Jesus knew where she was, what she would encounter, and that He would always be with her.

For centuries, Christians have either fought against Muslim armies – whether Arab or Ottoman – or avoided contact with Muslim populations altogether. Even during the era of Western colonial expansion, missionaries were often pressured to avoid stirring potential conflict with Muslims, and instructed instead to take their gospel message to less belligerent communities.

It wasn’t until the late 20th century, just as the West was disengaging its colonial empires, that Christian missionaries began turning their attention to the Muslim world. This new engagement included the translation of the gospel message into local Muslim languages and dialects. Finding that many Muslims were illiterate in their own language, missionaries forged ahead with non-literate means of communicating the gospel. They produced video products, such as the Jesus film, and orality-based resources such as audio Bibles and Bible story sets.

These colloquial translations received an exponential boost with the arrival of video cassettes, radio, satellite television, and most recently the Internet. And then there was prayer.

Prayers answered
Twenty-three years ago, a small band of Christians began praying for Muslims and with Muslims during the Islamic month of Ramadan. Muslims pray and fast for 30 days, often asking Allah to speak to them during this time. Today, the 30 Days Prayer movement ( counts hundreds of thousands of faithful Christian prayer warriors who cry out to God on behalf of Islam’s 1.7 billion adherents, asking God to reveal to them his truth. Is it a coincidence that 82% of all the Muslim movements to Christ in history have occurred during these same 23 years? The prayers of God’s people are not in vain.

    What we’re seeing today in the Muslim world truly is unique

 Other factors God has used to bring about today’s Muslim movements were less intuitive, yet equally prominent in the testimonies of Muslims coming to faith in Christ. These counterintuitive factors were found within Islam itself. Muslim converts spoke of their abhorrence of the violence that permeated their communities. Others contrasted the life of Muhammad with that of Jesus, finding in Jesus one who reflected an ideal that resonated deep within their heart. Perhaps most surprising in these testimonies was the role of the Koran itself.

Though the Koran possesses an almost magical power and allure for Muslims, it remains a virtually unintelligible book, shrouded in eighth-century Arabic, a language that few understand. In 1982, King Fahd of Saudi Arabia began an ambitious project to translate the Koran into all the languages of the world. The now deceased king would be horrified to learn how Muslims around the world point to their reading of the Koran in their own language as a key reason for leaving Islam.

Amid is a Muslim-background Christian I met in South Asia. He said, ‘Once I read the Koran in my own language I realised I was lost.’ Amid discovered that the Koran had no plan of salvation within it. ‘No titles of honour for Muhammad in the Koran, but 23 honourable titles that Allah gave to Isa [Jesus]. I saw that Muhammad is dead, but Isa is alive in heaven with Allah now. Muhammad is not coming again, but Isa will come again at the last judgement. Only four times does the Koran speak of Muhammad, and yet 97 times it talks about Isa. Muhammad is not a saviour, but Isa’s very name means “saviour.” Muhammad is only a messenger, but Isa is calledRuhullah, the Spirit of Allah.’

These discoveries led Amid, and many other Muslims, to read the New Testament and discover Jesus for themselves. This unexpected pathway from Koran to the gospel is occurring throughout the Muslim world.

Our role
So how can we participate in this unprecedented turning of Muslims to faith in Christ? My research revealed some practical steps we can take and some things we should not do.

Firstly, Christians must combat social injustice. As a powerful voice for protest that appeals to disenfranchised people, Islam thrives in an environment of social injustice. It is for this reason that Islam has gained a foothold in Western minority communities that most often feel the sting of racial and social injustice. Another positive practical step we can take to join in today’s movements of Muslims to Christ is to pray. Whether it is joining the powerful 30 Days of Prayer for the Muslim World, or simply whispering a prayer for Muslims whenever we see some tragedy reported on our news networks, when we pray we are advancing Christ’s kingdom among Muslims. We must also support effective gospel outreach to Muslims. Despite the violence and upheaval that we see in many corners of the Muslim world today, we must not retreat from our proclamation of the gospel message. Now, more than ever, is the day of salvation for Muslims, and we must make every effort to offer Muslims an alternative to the grim realities that they face every day.

    Once I read the Koran in my own language I realised I was lost

Finally, we can celebrate the fact that God is bringing the Muslim world to our doors. Rather than fearing or opposing Muslims who have come to our cities and towns, we can rejoice at the opportunity to minister to them in Jesus’ name, and share with them the reason for the hope we have within us.

David Garrison PhD, is the author of A Wind in the House of Islam: How God is Drawing Muslims Around the World to Faith in Jesus Christ (Monument, CO: WIGTake Resources, 2014)

Muslims in Metro New York (Part 9) – Bookends of the Muslim World

When Islam spread rapidly after the death of Mohammed it spread both west and east. Today, the Islamic world spreads like a belt from West Africa all the way to Southeast Asia. These bookends of the Muslim world, however, do not view their constituents as fringe Muslims. Timbuktu, Mali in West Africa, analogous to many as a remote part of the earth that may not exist, is a city that hosted an Islamic university predating Oxford and Cambridge. Indonesia, with its myriad of peoples and islands, boasts the largest Muslim population of any country in the world. Today, these bookends have launched significant communities into Metro New York. I have even met people from Timbuktu in Harlem!

West African
Over 1,600 ethnic groups and 1,100 languages can be found in West Africa. Many of them have made their way to Metro New York. In fact, more sub-Saharan Africans have immigrated willingly in the last decade to the United States than were forcibly brought during three centuries of the slave trade. Over half of the immigrants from Africa in New York City are from West Africa. Hailing from countries such as Senegal, Mali, Burkina Faso, Niger, Guinea, and the Gambia, West African Muslims are present throughout Metro New York. While some ethnic groups, such as the Wolof, Mossi, and Soninke tend to settle in Harlem and the Bronx, others such as the Futa Toro have their main enclave in Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn. There are too many West African ethnic groups to go into detail on this blog, but I estimate around 100,000 West African Muslims currently live in Metro New York. Based on data from one of the chief African imams in the city, over 75 West African mosques exist in Metro New York.


Migration has a way of sometimes reversing a country’s majority and minority groups. In Indonesia, Chinese and Christians are a small minority. In Metro New York, over half of the people from Indonesia are Christians and/or Chinese. Nevertheless, Indonesian Muslims still have a significant community in Metro New York and have one large mosque in Astoria, Queens. As one can see from the map below, the Indonesians mostly live in the Elmhurst area of Queens. In the Asian Alone Census category, an estimated 4,845 Indonesians lived in Metro New York in 2000 and 5,955 in 2010. Indonesian community leaders estimate more than 10,000 Indonesians live in Metro New York. Accounting for the larger Christian and Chinese population, I estimate 3,000 Indonesian Muslims live in Metro New York today.


Maps Source:

Census and American Community Survey Figures:

Chris Clayman
Director of Mission Advance, Co-Founder, Global Gates
Author, ethNYcity: the Nations, Tongues and Faiths of Metropolitan New York