God’s Surprising Solution for Evangelizing Muslims in the Middle East
Imagine you meet a couple—former Muslims, Amir* and Rasha*—who fled from Syria after the ISIS takeover.
While you’re talking to them, Rasha claims the couple converted after she had a vision of Jesus Christ. “I was sleeping and all of a sudden, I saw Jesus Christ in white. He said ‘I am Christ. You will have a beautiful daughter.’ I was eight months pregnant, and a month later we received our beautiful daughter.”
Just as she recounts her experience, her husband adds that he, too, had a dream. “I saw Jesus Christ. He was dressed in white. He said to me ‘I am your Savior. You will follow me.’”
If you live in the developed, Western world, such a conversation might seem so out of place it almost sounds like fiction. But to Amir and Rasha, this is real life.
And these experiences are not limited to Amir and Rasha. Many sources have reported the same phenomena—Muslims coming to Christ through dreams and visions. One person said he could feel God wrapping himself around him in a dream. Another said a cross appeared out of the sand.
While to many of us, these dreams seem strange and maybe even hard to believe, Columbia Theological Seminary’s professor emeritus Walter Brueggemann reminds us that dreams were viewed as significant in the ancient world.
“The ancients understood that the unbidden communication in the night opens sleepers to a world different from the one they manage during the day. The ancients dared to imagine, moreover, that this unbidden communication is one venue in which the holy purposes of God, perplexing and unreasonable as they might be, come to us.”
It’s not difficult, of course, to think of examples of biblical dreams that reinforce Brueggemann’s point. God appeared to Abraham in a vision in Genesis 15 in order to reinforce the covenant. And the story of Joseph, of course, contains several dreams: childhood dreams that foretold his future role, the dreams of the cupbearer and baker, and Pharaoh’s dream that predicted famine.
The New Testament, too, is full of dreams—particularly surrounding the birth of Jesus. In Luke 1, Zacharias had a vision that communicated his son—John the Baptist—would play an important role. Joseph had a dream telling him to take Mary as his wife and also two more instructing him to keep his family away from Herod. Later, Peter famously dreamed about clean and unclean animals, which led to the disciples expanding their witness to the Gentiles. In addition to these well-known dreams, Pilate’s wife, Ananias, Cornelius, Paul, and John all had dreams or visions.
We know God uses dreams, as we’ve seen throughout Scripture, but He is not bound to them or always uses them. He is a God of mystery and truth, and focusing on His Word will help guide us in the truth of dreams. These dreams helping Muslims coming to Christ are truly awe-inspiring.
Perhaps as we think about dreams like those of Amir and Rasha, then, we’d be wise to remain open-minded about how God can reveal himself. After all, in Acts 2:17, the Bible clearly foretells that as the world progresses, there will come a time where old men will dream dreams.
As a result, even though many living today have access to the Bible and therefore have more information about God than their ancestors, there is no reason to believe God cannot or does not still use dreams for his purposes.