Friday, July 1, 2016

Dreams

Then Jesus told him, “You believe because you have seen me. Blessed are those who haven’t seen me and believe anyway.” John 20:29

“If I have a dream I’ll believe,” Tala said. Her husband sitting near by piped in, “Joy, you must be patient with us. It is very hard to believe that Jesus is God. We need some proof.” I could tell they wanted to believe but were being held back. They weren’t resistant – just doubtful. It is not uncommon to hear our Muslim friends say that if they would have a dream they would believe. Many Muslims around the world have decided to follow Isa al Masih after they have had an epiphany dream.

Yes, we have friends who have been blessed to have had awesome dreams of Jesus or something spiritual in nature which convinced them of the truth of the Good News. But some of them had those dreams many years ago. Today they are weak in the faith. The dreams haven’t sustained them on the long haul.

I know one family of believers who must win the prize for having the most spiritual dreams. The most common dream is about bread. One night the husband, wife and daughter all had dreams about bread. They view bread as being alive. They don’t have any difficulty believing that Jesus is the Bread of Life!

Recently a young man wanted to share two impacting dreams he just had. He even typed them up for me to read. I got goose bumps reading them. Clearly the Holy Spirit was revealing Himself to the young man. I felt so privileged to hear about his dreams. Even more, I felt privileged to be able to open the Bible and show him the meaning of his dreams. All the meaning and answers were right there in the Bible. If I can not find the meaning or answer to dreams in the Bible I am reluctant to get involved in interpreting their dreams. But when it is clear I am eager to point them to Christ through the written Word.

Anyone involved in Muslim ministry will eventually be introduced to the world of dreams. The Persian people are especially impacted by dreams. They have books on interpreting dreams. One lady I know keeps such a book right by her pillow to check first thing when she wakes up. It has taken years for me to understand the importance of dreams to Muslims and to know how to respond; especially if the dream has me in it! Some dreams are ominous, some from Satan, some from God, and others - who knows what they’re about? I depend on the Holy Spirit to help me. Sometimes I actually need to rebuke their dreams when it is clear they are ominous and from Satan. If your Muslim friend shares her dream with you don’t be afraid to get involved. Use the Word of God. Just don’t let them depend on you to interpret their dreams. Ultimately following Jesus requires going by faith rather than by sight. However, God is merciful and understands the Muslim’s need for convincing proof.

Dear heavenly Father, You are revealing Yourself in amazing ways to Muslims. You are merciful and kind. In Jesus' name, Amen.

Saturday, June 25, 2016

Blessings of Solitude and Silence

“… Though you do not see him, you trust him; and even now you are happy with a glorious, inexpressible joy.” I Peter 1:8b

I was a 28 year old missionary mom of two kids in a remote mountainous area of northern Pakistan. Nearly everyone living at the mission hospital campus was connected to the medical work. It was a busy place treating desperate patients. Not being a medical person and needing to devote my time and energies to our two young children I experienced pervasive deep feelings of isolation, boredom, agitation, loneliness, unwanted solitude and silence. It was as if I had been taken to the edge of a desert and pushed into it by some unknown force. I stumbled along trying to find my way through to.... I did not know what. Many hours were spent in reflection and meditation. I had little or no access to reading material, music CDs, retreats, internet websites, and no Christian programs on a TV. I had no phone communication with anyone. Most missionary women did not drive or bike around freely in those days or even go on a walk alone off the campus. I thought I would die of isolation and loneliness. Now as I look back I realize those years were a blessing in disguise because I had nowhere to turn but to press into God. It was excellent preparation for a ministry that eventually emerged and continues to this day. I became keenly aware of what constitutes the meaning of soul and intimately acquainted with my Creator. It was a “soul school” I would probably not have discovered any other way.

Now we are half way through Ramadan. The month of fasting for Muslims has a way of shutting things down in regards to visiting them. Years ago I did not welcome the abrupt change of routine but today I love the opportunities to be still, spend more time in prayer and meditation getting my soul nourished to give out once again. Now I know I need times of solitude and silence. Not only need but deeply desire for such.  In Pakistan solitude and silence meant dreaded dry desert time but now it means a spiritual feast happens. During Ramadan I have been reading Henri Nouwen's book, The Spiritual Life (Eight Essential Titles). This book full of rich insights would have helped me to understand the wilderness journey I was navigating when in Pakistan.  I was on my own with no human to guide me or explain what was happening to me. Thank God for the Holy Spirit who comes to our assistance when we are left bereft of help. Today I feel comfortable with times of solitude and silence for I have learned to treasure and anticipate the presence and ministry of the Holy Spirit. He prepares and fills me up to engage in front line ministry among Muslim women. It is in both wanted and unwanted times of solitude and silence that my soul is nourished and prepared to once again engage in ministry and pour out the love of Jesus upon my beloved Muslim flock.

Dear heavenly Father, You show me Your treasures in wanted and unwanted times of solitude and silence. In Jesus’ name, Amen.