The people who walk in darkness will see a great light. Those who live in a dark land, the light will shine on them, Isaiah 9:2.
Hanif, Nadirah, Zamil, et al
Hanif was a Muslim sheikh, living in an East African country, very faithfully following the tenants of the Qur’ an, a leader in his local mosque. He had many questions, however, that no one seemed able to answer. Among them—why are so many of his people so violent, so hateful? One night he had a dream like none other. Most of his dreams were nightmares but this one was very pleasant, beautiful. Isa al Masih (the Qur’anic name for Jesus the Messiah) appeared to Hanif and told him that he must serve Him, and that he was to go immediately to a certain tree in town and wait until a man, who also appeared in the dream, would come to him and answer his questions. Hanif got up immediately out of bed and went at the break of dawn to the tree. He waited and he waited, all day long. Finally, near dusk, three men were walking toward him and the middle man, named Wafi, was the one in the dream. Hanif told him that he must answer all his questions. Wafi agreed and they went to Hanif’s house where he told Hanif of Jesus, the only true Redeemer. Incidentally, Jesus had appeared in a dream a few days before to Wafi and said, “I will give you a sheikh.” A few days later Hanif and his wife became Christians. Hanif was immediately discipled and he, in turn, has discipled many other new former Muslims. He has planted seven churches in just a few years.
Nadirah became a Christian when she married a Christian man, and after many years of marriage, after their children were grown, her husband died. Due to Muslim restrictions on women, Nadirah had never learned to read or write, but she loved the Scriptures. So she had people read them to her and she memorized huge sections of the Bible. She has given herself to much prayer and fasting, regularly praying all night for the salvation of Muslims around the world; and she found believers in her town who taught her the basic principles of discipleship so clearly stated in Scripture. Her home has become a veritable training ground for ministry with many people living there, and going out to engage in ministry in their Muslim communities. One of those is a man named Zamil. Formerly Zamil was a successful, Muslim businessman, who had a dream about Isa al Masih. In the dream Jesus said to Zamil, “I am the light of the world.” When Zamil awoke in the morning he found that he was blind! A few weeks later he met a few Christians, including Nadirah, who took him to a secluded prayer camp meeting where they prayed for his sight to return. His sight has not come back to him, but Zamil became a follower of Jesus that night. He too has been trained to follow Jesus as His disciple. Zamil has planted eight churches in Muslim communities in just two years. 1
In the last seven years, in Africa alone, more than six thousand churches have been planted in eighteen countries. Hundreds of sheikhs and imams are now following Jesus, boldly leading great movements of Muslims out of Islam to Christ. Forty-five different “unreached” Muslim majority people groups, who just a few years ago had no access to the Bible, now have more than three thousand new churches among them. Thousands of former Muslims are experiencing the loss of possessions, homes, and loved ones because of their newfound faith; but they are continuing to serve Jesus. And multiple Muslim communities, seeing the dramatic changes in nearby communities, are insisting that someone must bring these changes to their communities as well.2
Indeed, as Isaiah preached to Israel, warning them to return to God lest He judge them, Yahweh says that He had held them in contempt; but now He would make them glorious. They had been in darkness but they would see a great light. They had been in a dark land, but the light would shine upon them. Isaiah goes on from there and gives the identity of the One who would be that great light—the Wonderful Counselor, the Mighty God, the eternal Father, the Prince of Peace (Isaiah 9:6).
For twelve hundred years, a few billion Muslim people have been living in a dark land, but a light, the Light of the world, is making Himself known to many of them and they are becoming Christians. Jesus often does so in dreams and visions. These dreams and visions are not the means of salvation, but they do serve as a catalyst, causing the people to find Christians who have the answers to their questions, who take them to the Scriptures and show them Jesus there.
What does this all mean for us? First, we ought to marvel at the electing grace and mercy of God. He has a people for Himself, which He chose before the foundation of the world, for whom the Lord Jesus shed His blood, to whom the Holy Spirit gives new life in regeneration. God will save His people. Second, we must realize these dreams and visions are exceedingly rare, and we must not assume they will continue in the Muslim world nor should we presume they will come to people in other religious systems. I say this because we have an amazing ability to find any way possible to mitigate our responsibility to take the gospel to all the nations of the world (Matthew 28:18-20, John 10:16, Acts 1:8). We must go next door and to the rest of the world with the goodness of the light shining in the darkness. Third, we must pray for our brothers and sisters, who formerly were Muslims, who now follow Jesus, risking their own lives and livelihood for the sake of the gospel. Fourth, we should learn from them. Most of them have very little in the way of money, position, status, or education and yet God is using them powerfully to plant churches. They give themselves over completely to evangelism and discipleship—praying all night, several nights each month; taking in fellow believers who have been rejected by their families; teaching others the basics of prayer, Bible study, and how to plant churches. And fifth, we ought to follow their lead and expect great and mighty things from God in our day, in our culture. However, we must be willing to pay the price of total surrender to God. That means holding our money, time, and possessions lightly. That means praying earnestly, faithfully, and persistently. Like King David—who prayed earnestly for his son’s healing, giving himself to weeping and fasting, but who, when his son died, washed his face, got up off of his knees, and went on with his life (2 Samuel 12:15ff)—we too must seek God expectantly for revival. If God chooses not to bring it, then we simply go on with our lives, rejoicing in Him, trusting Him. Do not lose heart, but persevere. God is doing far more than we could ever ask or think.
1 For a remarkable and encouraging look at what God is doing in the Muslim world, I commend to you Jerry Trousdale’s book Miraculous Movements: How Hundreds of Thousands of Muslims Are Falling in Love with Jesus, published by Thomas Nelson. See pages 19-31 for more on these three saints.
2 Ibid, pages15-16.
Reverend Allen M. BakerPastor Baker is ordained in the PCA and has been in the ministry for over 30 years. A graduate of the University of Alabama, he received his M.Div. degree from...