** This article was originally posted by Dr. Adam Harwood on his website www.adamharwood.com and is used by permission.
Dr. Adam Harwood is: Associate Professor of Theology (occupying the McFarland Chair of Theology), Director of the Baptist Center for Theology & Ministry, and Editor of the Journal for Baptist Theology & Ministry at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary
In 1996, I met a graduate student named Elham Taheri. She studied microbiology at the University of Oklahoma. She explained that she had grown up in Iran in a Muslim home. She had never heard of Jesus but had a recurring dream about a man in a white robe on the seashore, calling to her. She grew up wanting to know more about this man. She came to the United States for college and was invited to attend a dorm Bible study. She thought it would be a good idea to spend time with American students in their context. When she was greeted at the door, she peered into the dorm and saw a large poster on the wall, picturing Jesus in a white robe, standing on the seashore—just like she had seen for her years in her dreams. Elham cried out, “Tell me about him! Tell me about that man!” The students invited her in, opened their Bibles, and talked about the life, teachings, death, and resurrection of Jesus. Elham placed her faith in Christ in that dorm room. And she sat on the steps of the Baptist Student Union at University of Central Oklahoma in Edmond, and told me that story, with tears streaming down her face. I filed away this experience in my mind.
In 2012, I met two Baptist pastors in Punjab, India, who told me Jesus appeared to them in a vision when they—at separate times and as Sikhs—were on their way to commit suicide. Apparently, suicide by train has become a tragic, widespread practice among men in India. In both cases, the men immediately found someone who shared the gospel with them and they placed their faith in Jesus.
Tom Doyle, in his book, Dreams and Visions (Thomas Nelson, 2012) tells multiple, geographically-diverse stories about Muslim-background believers who had dreams or visions of Jesus which prepared them to repent of their sin and believe in Jesus.
J. D. Greear, in his book, Gospel (B&H, 2011), tells two stories in which he claims to have interpreted dreams for Muslims who then heard and accepted the message of the gospel.
Nabeel Qureshi, a speaker with Ravi Zacharias International Ministries, describes receiving both a vision and a dream in Seeking Allah, Finding Jesus (Zondervan, 2014).
In a 2013 Christianity Today article titled “The Golden Fish,” Eric Metaxas writes, “In 1988 I had a dream in which God spoke to me in what I have come to call ‘the secret vocabulary of my heart.’ The next morning, all was new and newness.” Metaxas connected the dream to his conversion to faith in Jesus Christ.
None of these accounts, in isolation, convinces me that God speaks today in visions and dreams. But the cumulative case is compelling. Even if one does not affirm that God speaks today in visions and dreams, recall that the Bible is full of these accounts.
These are only some examples. The Bible is full of visions and dreams.
Even so, it seems possible that God might speak to people today through visions and dreams. This possibility causes me to bow in awe of a creator who condescends to communicate with His creation—sinners like us. In the contemporary accounts I cited, the common factor is that God was seeking to save the lost. God loves and desires to save sinners (1 Tim 2:3-6; 2 Peter 3:9). Could God speak to some people today through visions and dreams, before they hear the message of the gospel, in order to make them more receptive to the message of the gospel?