Reports of Jesus appearing in dreams or in some kind of apparent bodily form to Muslims in the Middle East are being heard with increasing frequency, and not just from evangelical Christian missionaries.
As a result, the time is coming soon when Christians and skeptics alike will have to take public notice, and sooner than later for congressional aides in jobs working on international relations, foreign assistance, religious freedoms and related issues.
Senior Pastor David Platt of McLean Bible Church in McLean, Va., is the latest to share information about such an experience, according to the Christian Post.
McLean Bible Church is a huge congregation in the prosperous Northern Virginia suburb just across the Potomac River from the nation’s capital. Many of the congregants are federal workers, congressional aides and others drawn by the presence of the central government.
During a recent service, Platt recently conducted an interview with “Yazim,” a converted Muslim who lives in a Middle Eastern nation where sharing Christianity or publicly worshipping Jesus is illegal and often dangerous.
“God is moving inside the Middle East with dreams, visions, and personal visitations,” Yazim told Platt in a voice disguised to protect his anonymity. As an example, Yazim described a Middle Eastern man who claimed to have received an extremely unusual visitor:
“This man said this to us when we visited him, ‘A man wearing all white knocked at my door every night and I couldn’t look at him because his face was so shiny and bright,’” Yazim recalled.
“‘When he would come inside, he asked me to write down what he said. As I wrote, I fell asleep. The next night, he would come again for the next month.’”
“‘A man wearing all white knocked at my door every night and I couldn’t look at him because his face was so shiny and bright,’”
“Yazim asked the man, ‘What did you write? May I see your notebook?’ The man showed Yazim his notebook. In it was written:
‘In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him, and without him was not anything made that was made,’ the opening portion of the New Testament book of John.”
As a journalist, such an account raises red flags for me. First, at best, Yazim’s account is second-hand. It also includes too few details of the man making the visitation claim, so it’s impossible to identify him and confirm that Yazim accurately described what he experienced.
But professing Christ in many Muslim-majority nations can incur the death penalty, so the anonymity required is not at all unreasonable and shouldn’t necessarily be counted against the credibility of the report.
Also, context is crucial in assessing such reports and this particular report comes against a backdrop of the increasing frequency of similar or related encounters by Muslims with Jesus despite Islam’s historic intolerance.
There is also the fact such reports are heard not just among and from Christian missionary groups but also in the mainstream medai, as is seen in this December 2018 report on NPR:
“There are hundreds of thousands of Christians in Iran. Those considered part of the native Christian communities are permitted to practice their religion with restrictions, but a Muslim converting to Christianity is considered an apostate.
“The Iranian government jails converts, especially those who proselytize. The authorities see it as a Western plan to turn Iranians against Islam and the Islamic regime, according to converts in Turkey.”
The NPR reporter implies that these converts do so as a result of their desire to immigrate to the West. That may well be so in some cases, but I don’t know how to measure it without knowing the hearts of these new converts.
“A common phrase found in many testimonies gathered from West Africa to East Asia began with the words, ‘I had a dream….'”
Another factor driving Muslim converts to Christianity, according to mainstream media reporting, is the experience of living through the horrors of rule by ISIS, as reported by Reuters in this story from Kobani, Syria, and this NBC story from the same city.
Also, check out this Newsweek oped by evangelical missionary David Garrison, who documents the notable paucity of Christian converts from Islam until recent years.
“Though dreams have fallen into disrepute in the West, they retain their currency in the House of Islam. A common phrase found in many testimonies gathered from West Africa to East Asia began with the words, ‘I had a dream….’ Like the wind itself, these dreams came as invisible harbingers of change,” Garrison writes.
“For many, they recall the words of Jesus to a nighttime seeker, ‘The wind blows where it pleases, and you hear its sound, but you don’t know where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.’ (John 3:8.)”
Something is happening. Is it God or something else?