Dreams, visions bringing Iraqis to Christ
By Allen Palmeri
September 23, 2003
JEFFERSON CITY – An indigenous home church movement consisting of at least 86 congregations is alive and well within Muslim Iraq, thanks to a sovereign God choosing to win souls by means of dreams and visions, according to Donald EKG (not his real name for security reasons), the Baghdad-based operations coordinator for the International Mission Board (IMB).
"This is not external," Donald EKG said. "This is totally internal. God does it in a variety of ways, and I’m comfortable with anything that He wants to do."
There are 16 home churches in the north and 70 in the south, Donald said. This is a foundation that short-term missionaries from Missouri Baptist churches can build upon when they arrive early next year to pass out food and serve as ambassadors of Jesus to needy Iraqi families, he said.
"When we see this happening this way, it gets us through so many of our cross-cultural barriers," Donald said. "It’s coming inside the culture, inside the tradition, inside the history, inside the language. Those barriers are crossed already. All we have to do is fan the flame and be a blessing to them to achieve the same goals.
"We believe it’s God’s desire to see the peoples of Iraq have a chance to hear and respond to the Good News about Jesus."
Donald is excited to welcome Missouri Baptists because the Missouri Baptist Convention is the only state body within the Southern Baptist Convention empowered to reach Iraq on the evangelism/church planting level. In other words, the short-term missionaries from Missouri are special soldiers that IMB personnel on the ground in Baghdad can deploy.
Missouri’s assignment is Mosul, a city of 1.2 million in the province of Ninewah. The overall IMB strategy in Iraq is to reach 14 cities and 7 people groups, Donald said.
Southern Baptists have plenty of plans to take the Gospel to the natives, but Donald said Muslims are being reached right now through dreams and visions. Muslim imams and mullahs are losing followers.
"They go to them and say, ‘I saw Jesus in a dream last night. What do I do?’’’ Donald said.
Usually they are told to forget that the dream ever happened. However, when the same dream happens more than once, the imam or the mullah will sometimes face up to the inevitable and let go of the follower.
About 1-2 million ethnic Christians exist in Iraq, Donald said. Many are not evangelicals, he said, but some of them are. Some are even being used by God to harvest the souls of Muslims having dreams and visions, he said.
Donald knows of one imam in particular who has been the primary source of disciples for a key Iraqi Christian leader.
"It’s very possible that this one imam very well may be a believer," Donald said. "It’s a curiosity because he’s the one who sent several of these guys to a nationally known Christian, an ethnic Christian minority. I mean, he sent them to talk to this guy!
"This guy is an evangelical, and he’s been discipling. He’s got a network of 70 men who he’s been discipling, not all sent from this one imam but many of them from him."
Wisdom, dreams and visions are a winning blend in Iraq, Donald said. American teachers need to leave their direct, propositional approach at home. Learn to respect the mystery of Iraqi culture, he said.
"An extremely high percentage of Muslim peoples come to the Lord through a supernatural event—primarily visions and dreams," he said. "They’ll have a dream of Jesus coming to them in various forms, always as a man. With His presence they know that He is Jesus.
"Sometimes He speaks. Sometimes He’s silent. Sometimes it’s real specific. Sometimes it’s very general.
"Personally, I don’t know of a Muslim convert in this part of the world who has not had a vision or a dream. It is that widespread."
Donald urges every Missouri Baptist who is praying about coming to Iraq to fan the flame that is already burning through dreams and visions. Pray for God to keep on doing this, the operations coordinator said.
"He can," Donald said. "He’s the God of the supernatural. We need to pray that He will continue to draw people to Himself by using dreams and visions."
Donald spoke to Missouri Baptists on Aug. 28, when Missouri Baptists all over the state were lifting up Iraq in accordance with the goals of the MBC. The MBC proclaimed the week of Aug. 24-31 a special eight days of prayer for Iraq, with congregations all over the state for two special Sundays, Aug. 24 and Aug. 31, focusing their prayers on a common goal of God preparing Iraq’s heart to receive the Good News.
Other prayers for Iraq during that time were intentional prayers for safety for our soldiers in the land as well as persevering prayers for a Christian-tolerant and stable government for the people of Iraq.
"What we do is going to make a difference," said Donald to an attentive group of Missouri Baptists gathered in the prayer room at Concord Baptist Church, Jefferson City Aug. 28.