As we have seen over the last 2-3 years, the ballyhoo over the “Arab Spring” has died out, and the so-called great awakening has turned into a nightmare. However, throughout the Muslim world another awakening has been taking place. Quietly and in a much more personal way.
“I revealed myself to those who did not ask for me; I was found by those who did not seek me” (Isaiah 65:1).
The Prophet Isaiah wrote those words twenty seven hundred years ago, a warning to Israel that God would open the doors of His kingdom to people other than the Jews if Israel turned from Him.
We now know it was a foreshadowing of God’s long term plan to bring Gentiles into His family. Paul made this clear in Romans 10, in which he agonizes over his people—the Jews, and their rejection of Jesus The Messiah. The benefits of the Death, Burial, and Resurrection of Jesus would now extend to the Gentiles:
“For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek: for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon him. For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.” (Romans 10:12-13).
The book, Dreams and Visions: Is Jesus awakening the Muslim World?authored by Pastor Tom Doyle, who has spent eleven years as a full time Missionary in the Middle East and Central Asia. Muslims, men and women alike are experiencing dreams and visions of Jesus. Not in one isolated area, or a small select group of people, dozens of Islamic countries and countless Muslim cultures have been invaded by the love of Christ. Renouncing Islam and embracing Christ, more often than not at the risk of losing their lives, the stories are inspiring and astounding.
Muslims are coming to Jesus all over the globe. Their faith is fresh and their passion burning. Our new brothers and sisters in Christ live in Iran, Afghanistan, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and the Gaza Strip. They are bold and ready to die for Christ. In Egypt, ten imams who have become Christians, have been brought together, and hold prayer meeting three times a week to pray that their families and those in their mosques will come to find Jesus.
Dina, a ranking official in Iran’s Female Secret Police, her mother was healed of terminal cancer, and both of them became Christians. This secret police group is an arm of the morality police, prosecuting the smallest offence of Sharia Law, the violators often taken to Iran’s infamous Evin Prison.
In Syria, Jamal, a blue blood Muslim, (think of the apostle Paul, a Hebrew of the Hebrews) whose grandfather was Grand Mufti of the Gaza Strip, and his father, who was senior advisor to Yasser Arafat, has found Christ.
In Gaza, twenty-five-year old Ali, who spent his teen years preparing to join Hamas, became bitter and angry, seeing through the lies and hypocrisy of this insidious organization. These are only a few of the many who, having been fed a steady diet of hatred as they were growing up, have renounced the “Religion of the Sword” and have given their lives to Christ.
Couples with the dreams and visions, the common thread they all report is the love they feel from their encounter with Jesus—something they all say is lacking in Islam. Often led to a Christian afterwards, they also state that the love shown to them is completely foreign from what they have received from imams and fellow Muslims.
David Garrison, author of Church Planting Movements, reports that: The majority of Muslim growth is through birth. An estimated 96 percent of Muslim growth is merely biological. Since Islamic traditions values large families, this inflates the numbers in their favor. Just because someone is born into a Muslim family, there is no guarantee that he or she will be a practicing the Muslim faith for the rest of their lives. The theory, that “Once a Muslim, always a Muslim” is an imploding one. One little bit of information, once again quietly ignored, one of the largest growing Christian churches in the world? Iran.
Jesus told his disciples: “And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in all the world as a witness to all nations, and then the end will come” (Matthew 24:14). The written Word of God, and the Word made flesh (John 1:1) are spreading like wildfire. 85 percent of the world has a Bible available in their native language. There have been 6.5 million viewers of the film JESUS. Christian radio reaches 93 percent of the world. It is estimated that when Father Zakaria, a Christian apologist who debates Islamic clerics is on television in the Middle East, 60 million viewers watch.
In Iran, 7-9 million Persians watch satellite broadcasts of Hormoz Shariat, the “Billy Graham of Iran.” That constitutes 10 percent of viewers in Iran.
As I came to the end of the book, I was convicted in my own heart. “Ye have heard it said, thou shalt love thy neighbor and hate thine enemies, but I say unto you, love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you and persecute you” (Matthew 5:44-45 KJV).
Pastor Doyle was in Gaza City just a few months after 9-11. A Muslim woman opened his eyes to the heart and plight of the people there. She recognized him as an American and stopped him on the street. Reaching from under her hijab, she gripped his arm. “Did you see on CNN the people cheering in the street when the building fell to the ground?” He had in fact seen the video. “Well, I wasn’t cheering,” she continued, as if seeking some sort of forgiveness. “I was crying for those people and their families, because that was wrong and they didn’t deserve to die.” He also writes, “There are thirteen known terrorist groups holed up in Gaza, but there are also human beings whose inner conflict mirror the outer conflict around them.”
More Muslims are coming to faith in Jesus than ever before. It is possible that in the last ten years — than in the last fourteen centuries of Islam, more Muslims have become followers of Jesus Christ. Daily, we read in the headlines of terrorism and atrocities committed in the name of Islam. But is the real story about Muslims, ignored by the media, is that Jesus is reaching out to them with his offer of eternal life earned by His death on the cross and His resurrection? Islam has a visitor. Jesus has arrived.