“I was in the desert alone, lost. As far as the horizon, there was nothing in sight but sand. I felt the sand on my bare feet. Then I saw something extraordinary. In the midst of that barrenness, an immense wooden cross emerged from the earth, rising up with sand spilling from it back to earth.”
So begins a dream narrative posted by Bosnian Muslim teenager Emina Emlonic. A dream about Jesus.
It continues: “I felt then a spectator in my own dream, and the sight of the cross gave me neither fear nor joy. But I was a curious and began moving, almost floating, towards it, the most magnificent … thing I’d ever seen or imagined, and as I came closer to the cross, I suddenly saw a man walking toward me: a broad-shouldered, long-striding man, with a dark complexion, long hair, and wearing a white robe.
“And just as suddenly I ceased to be a witness to my dream. I was in it, walking toward the man walking toward me. I knew him immediately. He was Jesus. Without knowing why, I fell to my knees. He stood over me and touched my face with his right hand.”
Posted at the Catholic Thing website, such accounts of encounters with Jesus through dreams and visions increasingly are being reported, according to Pastor Frank Costenbader, founder of Manifold Hope Ministries, publisher of the Isa Dreams website.
Isa is an Arabic name corresponding to Jesus that is found in the Quran.
“The number of Isa dreams has seemed to grow tremendously since 2000, and in 2005 it seems to have kicked into another gear,” Costenbader said. “There has been an explosion of testimonies on the Web in the past two years about people encountering Jesus in dreams and subsequently becoming followers of Jesus.”
A Saudi man said his dream started with a “horrible” scene.
“One night, while I was asleep, I had this horrible dream of me being taken into hell. And what I saw there brought me real fear, and these dreams kept coming to me almost every night. At this point I was really wondering as to why I should be seeing hell in this manner,” he wrote at Answering-Islam.
He said Jesus appeared to him and said: “Son, I am the way, the truth and the life. And if you would give your life to Me, and follow Me, I would save you from the hell that you have seen.
“This came as a surprise to me, for I did not know who this Jesus was. Of course, He is mentioned in the Quran and in the book Surah Mariam. He is stated as one of our prophets, but not as a savior who could save us from hell. So I started looking out for a Christian who could give me some advice about this Jesus I have seen.”
He said he had to reach out to an Egyptian Christian, because Christianity is “totally banned in Saudi Arabia and if a Christian is caught witnessing to a Muslim, [it is] almost sure that he would be beheaded.”
A Thai teenager named Fa reported on Muslims of Thailand she saw Jesus as she walked in a field.
An account of her experience includes: “She found herself in the open field. There was nothing much special in this scenery but she felt peace in her heart, the kind of peace that she has never felt before. It seemed like she has been in this field before and somehow, she knew what was going to happen next.
“And then suddenly there appeared before her a bright light. She didn’t get startled when she saw the figure. It was a man wearing a white robe that seemed to shine. There was so much of joy and love that flooded in her heart when she saw the figure. She immediately knew that Jesus was appearing to her. Then she woke up.”
Not just Muslims
Muslims are not the only ones reporting such remarkable encounters, as Costenbader also describes accounts by Hindus.
He said regardless of the background, a common characteristic of the dreams of Jesus is that they instill a sense of peace.
“That’s far different than the fear-filled system of Islam,” Costenbader said.
Christine Darg, author and co-host of the Jerusalem Channel television program “Exploits Ministry,” agrees it’s an increasingly common development.
“The phenomenon of Muslims coming to a living faith in Jesus is happening every day. This is part of the prophecy of the prophet Joel that in the last days God will pour out his spirit upon all people – sons and daughters will prophesy, young and old men will experience dreams and visions,” Darg said.
Darg, who is also author of the book “Miracles Among Muslims: The Jesus Visions,” says compiling a record of the visions is difficult because of how often it happens.
“There are so many! One former terrorist promised God he would die for him, Jesus spoke to him audibly and said, ‘I’m calling you not to die but to live for me!’ He was surprised,” Darg said.
“While all Christians, from a theological viewpoint, should be willing to lay down our lives for the Lord Jesus Christ who made atonement for us, nevertheless, this message of Jesus to the former terrorist is quite a refreshing reversal to the death-wish mantra of jihadists!” Darg said.
Darg noted some experts say at least a quarter of all Muslim-background believers have experienced some type of supernatural dream or vision about Jesus.
“When I share my faith with Muslims, I often ask them if they’ve had a dream or a vision about Jesus, and usually they answer positively,” she said.
In his research, Costenbader found accounts of “Isa dreams” are not new.
A dream in 1844 led to the conversion of an Indonesian named Paulus-Tosari, who helped begin the first modern movement of Muslims converting to Christ.
He said also that two Jesus visions in 1892 can be directly tied to the founder of the second Muslim movement to Christ in Ethiopia.
Author and Choices for Living President Jim Bramlett, who has lived in Saudi Arabia, believes that the phenomenon of Muslims experiencing visions and dreams of Jesus is definitely “supernatural.”
“They’re visions. They’re dreams. It’s a supernatural, sovereign act of God and it’s encouraging. It’s also happening more often than anyone knows,” Bramlett said.
Darg said simply talking about a dream or vision of Jesus opens the door for the Muslim convert to talk openly about the encounter.
“For a case in point, recently I was taking a tour group through the Muslim Quarter of Jerusalem’s Old City, and our guide had arranged for us to meet a Muslim cleric,” Darg said.
Soon it was time for questions and answers, and knowing that sheik was an expert on the mystical form of Islam, Sufism, Darg said she “felt he surely would have heard of some of his co-religionists who had experienced a dream about Jesus.”
“So I asked the sheik if he could share any examples with us. Suddenly, the man began to break down in tears. ‘I will tell you a secret. I myself have seen Jesus,’ he said, although he was speaking to my entire group,” Darg said.
Darg says the Sufi leader’s experience is typical.
“He related the most beautiful encounter that he had experienced with the risen Lord Jesus, and how the Lord had embraced him in a way that the sheik had become a believer and follower of Jesus without realizing that he was a Christian,” Darg said.
Costenbader said the number of encounters through dreams is incalculable, since he alone has documented stories from 29 countries.
“Nobody can get perfect statistics, but based on all our research, we believe that well over 1 million Jesus dreams and visions have occurred since the year 2000. This may be only 200 dreams each night among 1.6 billion Muslims worldwide.”
But he said “it is possible that as many as 5 percent of the worldwide Muslim population could have had such a dream – which would be up to 80 million dreamers.”
Darg pointed out many Muslims “do not readily relate these supernatural experiences out of fear of reprisals.”
She relates the story of a woman on the Mount of Olives in Jerusalem who experienced dreams and visions about Jesus.
“She did not respond to him at first because of fear of what might happen to her if she became a follower of Jesus. Nevertheless, through an accident in her kitchen and a subsequent total healing of her injury by another night vision of Jesus, she received the strength to testify that Jesus is alive and that he had indeed healed her,” Darg said.
Costenbader cited Sura 4:89 of the Quran, which says conversions from Islam to Christianity are punishable by death.
They all had dreams
Costenbader said the dreams, in the words of one woman he interviewed, transform lives.
“When I interviewed one woman from Iran, she said that they had all had dreams,” Costenbader said.
The woman told him: “Would you put your life on the line for a proposition? We need something transformational, that’s what these dreams are.”
Darg’s book has examples of Jesus appearing to multiple people at the same time.
“My research, as far as I know, is the only book to emphasize this fascinating fact. It’s one thing when Jesus appears to an individual, which He did to me when I was a young girl. He healed me of a life-threatening illness in an open vision.
“But it’s another dimension altogether when Jesus appears to a group simultaneously. I have a whole chapter in my book about the Lord appearing to Muslim schoolboys in Arabia in a classroom during Ramadan,” Darg said.
Bramlett said the visions could be the result of prayers for Muslims, but he says God is the one who is doing the work.
“I believe He’s sovereignly pouring out His presence to the Muslim people. It’s a product of His grace. He sent His Son to die for them and He loves them. This is one of His ways of communicating His love to them,” Bramlett said.
While Bramlett believes Muslims’ prior perception of Jesus as a prophet could help them come to terms with the visions, another factor is responsible for Muslim conversions.
“I have no doubt that the Holy Spirit is at work, because Scripture says that no one can say Jesus is Lord apart from the Holy Spirit. So it’s His work,” Bramlett said.
Bramlett also notes an important attitude shift that he believes is necessary. He says the details of the stories should help Americans understand God’s desire to see the Arab people embrace Christianity.
“They themselves are God’s creation. Jesus wants to reach out to those precious souls,” Bramlett said.
Bramlett said a major hindrance for Muslims is their belief system.
“Their religious system is satanic. It’s possible that Allah may be the devil himself. Think of it; the Quran tells them to kill those who won’t convert,” Bramlett said. “However, we should want to see them saved. They’re God’s creation, and they all need to be redeemed. Jesus intentionally died to save them, too.”