Engaging Nineveh: A Conservative Church, a Baptist Preacher, and a Newfound Heart for Muslims (Paperback)
Driving home after a week of course work at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, Josh Phillips was crying. He usually managed to keep his emotions in check, but on this day tears streamed down his face.
He wept because God had suddenly opened his eyes to the "undeniable opportunity" facing him: to love Muslims in his community and touch them with the gospel of Jesus.
"I felt ashamed that I hated Muslims," Phillips writes early on in Engaging Nineveh: A Conservative Church, a Baptist Preacher, and a Newfound Heart for Muslims, his first-person account of a transformation of heart, thought and action on his part and his church's. "I cringed that I only witnessed to people who looked and lived as I did. I felt overwhelmed and ashamed that I was not seeing the mission field in my own community.
"I pulled off the road and begged God for forgiveness. Jesus saved me when I was nine years old, but on that northbound highway, He opened my eyes."
Phillips had just spent an intensive week in a master-of-divinity-track class with missionaries Nik and Ruth Ripken, who shared stories about their work in dark places around the world. But it was Nik Ripken's exhortation to see Muslims around the world and at home as a field of harvest that broke Phillips' heart.
"That was the week God helped me to love my enemies," Phillips said. "That was when I began loving Muslims for the first time."
Nik Ripken, writing in the book's foreword, says the experience constituted a "good, hard look in the mirror" for Phillips. "Josh reveals ... how one can face their own racial chasm - not only seeing Muslims as people for whom Christ died, but journeying until the family of Ishmael become one's personal friends."
"Josh's book is a pilgrimage of hope and love. He combines his storytelling ability, country-boy humor, and faith in Jesus to challenge his readers to travel down the same road, where faith and racism cannot co-inhabit the same heart."