Now Appearing: Jesus

There’s nothing like snuggling up with a cup of tea and a good book, especially with a huge thunderstorm pounding on the roof. It’s even better when you haven’t had a chance to sit down in days, if not weeks.

With my dad all moved into his new quarters, and a huge pile of leftover furnishings and other debris filling our garage, jammed into the family room, and clogging hallways, I finally chose to take a day off. I needed it.

So Monday I sat down with a steaming mug of Irish Breakfast Tea (my favorite) and started reading Dreams and Visions: Is Jesus Awakening the Muslim World?, by Tom Doyle. When noon arrived I took a short break to make a sandwich, propped the book up on the table, and read several more chapters. Pete arrived home. We reheated leftovers and I headed to bed, dinner in one hand, book in the other. I finally turned out the light around eleven—late for someone who normally gets up around five. And yes, I finished the book.

The stories in this book are all true. The author, who spent eleven years as a full-time missionary in the Middle East and central Asia, vetted every story. Either he talked to the person himself, or he talked to their family and close friends.

For example, I “met” Ali, who graduated first in his class from a prestigious Shia seminary in Qom, Iran, where he was groomed to advance the cause of Islam worldwide—but who is actually a follower of Jesus!

  • There was Amir, a Syrian who planted the first church among the Alawites (a sect of Islam that includes Syrian president Bashar Assad).
  • Amina is a West Bank Palestinian who, after becoming a disciple herself, is now sharing Jesus with the wife of a top leader in Hamas.
  • There was the peace-loving Afghan, Mateen, who finally met the true Man of Peace, and now preaches Jesus openly to everyone he meets. He’s been imprisoned and tortured for his audacity, and expects to be martyred some day soon.

What do all these people (and a dozen or so others?) have in common? They all first met Jesus in a dream or vision!

One Egyptian woman described her dream as follows:

Jesus walked with me alongside a lake, and He told me how much He loves me. … His love was different that anything I’ve ever experienced. I’ve never felt so much peace in my heart. … I asked this Jesus, “Why are You visiting me, a poor Muslim mother with eight children?” And all He said was, “I love you, Noor. I have given everything for you. I died for you.”

The Islamic world is isolated from, and resistant to, the Gospel, as generations of missionaries can testify. Yet in these latter days, God is taking matters into His own hands. Just as He appeared to Saul on the road to Damascus, Jesus is appearing to Muslims. These dreams and visions are co common that ads are appearing in Arabic newspapers: “Have you dreamed of a man in a white robe? He has a message for you. Call….”

Common to all these appearances is a profound sense of peace and overwhelming love. Sometimes Jesus holds long conversations, other times He doesn’t say a word. Often, the dreamer will see a specific person who then “happens” to cross paths with them the next day. That person is always a believer who is then able to explain the dream and answer questions.

The dream or vision itself just plants the seed. It takes time, sometimes years, for the person to process their experience, study the Bible to learn what being a follower of Jesus entails, and make a commitment that could easily result in their giving their life for their faith.

I found that reading these stories of God at work to be both deeply encouraging, and intensely challenging. Hearing how Jesus is appearing to Muslims certainly builds my faith. Few Americans have had visions or Jesus, but then, we don’t face the danger that converted Muslims face.

Perhaps it’s the absence of danger that leads us to complacent Christianity. How many of us would give our lives to Jesus if we knew it meant that our family would try to kill us? Even if our family tolerates the shame of our conversion (and it is shameful in their culture), it’s illegal in most Islamic countries for a Muslim to change religions. These new believers face imprisonment, torture, and execution for their love of Jesus.

Doyle concludes with some practical ways we can reach out to Muslims in our own neighborhoods. God’s love is the overwhelming reason followers of Mohammed become followers of Christ. After reading this book, I can’t wait to get started!

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