Extraordinary stories about the massive number of Muslims converting to Christianity are appearing around the world. Recently at World Magazine, writer Warren Cole Smith interviewed 25-year missionary David Garrison who has documented his findings about the Muslim phenomenon. “There is a revival in the Muslim world,” Garrison says. He believes between 2 and 7 million former Muslims have converted to Christianity in the past two decades. His book, A Wind in the House of Islam, contains impressive research to back up his claim.
Why is this happening? Nabeel Qureshi, a popular speaker and author, explains in his book and online testimony that the gospel is being proclaimed with greater effectiveness. Qureshi affirms that the Holy Spirit works primarily by and through Scripture. And in his own experience, he says that subjective visions about Christ were also steps in his conversion from Islam to faith in Christ.
Open Doors USA recently reported a remarkable conversion story of a former Muslim man in Iran named Taher. He would beat his family and even threatened to kill them because of their faith in Jesus. After Taher's family fled abroad, time passed and in his growing despair he cried out: "I will believe in the God who reveals Himself to me." According to his story (here), the living God answered his prayers through a dream. It isn’t clear how much of the Bible Taher was exposed to, but he heard the gospel through the witness of his family and saw the reality of their faith in the face of persecution.
Some believe that these reported visions of “Isa” (the Muslim name for Jesus) could be spurious and, therefore, should be received with caution. Dennis McBride, in particular, writes about this at The Alliance for Biblical Integrity:
If the Isa of Muslim dreams is not the Jesus of the Bible, who is he?
One option is a false Christ appearing as an angel of light (2 Cor 11:4, 13-15). But what could the enemy of our souls hope to gain from doing that? Consider this: we have already seen that people with sinful motives have preached Christ for selfish gain (Phil 1:15-18), so it is reasonable to envision the author of pride and selfishness doing the same and in the process potentially:
• Deceiving Muslims into thinking they are worshiping the true Jesus when, in fact, they are worshiping the person in their dreams. All the accounts I have read unquestioningly equate Isa with Jesus.
• Diluting the primacy, centrality and authority of God’s Word by establishing faith based on subjective revelations and experiences (John 20:24-29).
• Creating expectations of evangelism linked to visitations from Jesus. (Some Muslim outreach strategies now include praying that Isa will appear to even more Muslims so more will be saved.)
• Creating expectations of additional visitations from Jesus, such as during times of persecution, and the inevitable disillusionment and confusion that result when those expectations are not met.
• Causing division within the Body of Christ over this issue.
I mention those to illustrate how the enemy could benefit from a phenomenon that on the surface may seems like a kingdom divided. I have not concluded that visions of Isa are necessarily demonic, nor do I believe Muslims are not being genuinely saved. But Muslims who come to Christ do so in the same way everyone else throughout church history has: the Holy Spirit opens their hearts to the truth (Acts 16:14). But the spiritual harm that can result from connecting their faith to subjective mystical experiences can be great, as certain parallel revelatory claims of the Pentecostal and Charismatic Movements (as well as various cultic groups) have demonstrated over the years.
Whether these visions of Isa are true or untrue doesn’t negate that we rejoice with Muslims who are genuinely turning to Christ. Your turn: what do you think? Do you know people of the Muslim faith with whom you can share the gospel?
Alex Crain is the editor of Christianity.com