Monday, August 8, 2011

The Man in My Dreams

“Father’s voice echoed through the house as his booming voice shouted at me, you have disgraced this family, dishonored me and placed your life at risk. This can not be possible! The argument escalated until the entire home was in chaos. Mother weeping, father’s making accusations, finally, I left the house fearing for my life.”

My landing into Casablanca Morocco was a bit bumpy but as I taxied to the gate my anticipation of this new partnership began to grow. On que people jumped from their seats extracting luggage from overhead bins. You could hear the chatter in French, Spanish, English and of course Arabic as I suddenly realized I was the outsider again.

Working my way through immigration, customs, and then finally out of the airport the sudden heat hit me like a wave. Looking for my contact was a chore as I moved through a stampede of men aggressively reaching for my bags and offering their taxi for hire, “non merci, non merci,” I said in French as I worked my way through the organized chaos. Ah, suddenly I see my friend near the road and I quickly head that way.

The cool air of the land cruiser was a treat as we sped along the road exchanging pleasantries. Soon we began to outline the schedule and solidify thoughts for our time together. Nothing about investigating opportunities to advance the gospel in an Islamic culture is easy. Everything you do must be anchored in prayer, love for people and a heavy dose of sensitivity to Islamic laws, traditions and realities.

That evening six of us sat around a large bowl filled with cocos and chicken as unfamiliar but tantalizing smells filled the air... I’m ready to eat. Pushing back the jet lag I accepted some mint tea and soon I am engrossed in conversions which takes me deep into the lives of those who come to faith in this restricted culture. As I sat on the floor I imagined this is how Jesus ate and told stories while reclining with His disciples.

Across from me sat, Ahmad, a thin lightly bearded man whose eyes conveyed some inner joy. They seemed to dance as he spoke. As each of us casually reached into the bowl we listened to one another’s stories.

Ahmad began to share his story of conversation... “My father was furious as I told him about my decision to become a disciple of Isa. I tried to tell him that it all began with a vision of a man who came to me in my dreams, but my father wouldn’t listen.” I leaned in. I didn't want to miss a word. I have heard of these types of stories and now I was on the brink of hearing one first hand. Ahmad, began to tell about the night he first met a man in his dream. “The man in my dreams asked me if I wanted to know the true living God. My heart was ready to respond but the man put his fingers on my lips and said that this knowledge would not come easily, it was not free. The man went onto say that if I wanted it I would be harassed, cast out of my family and perhaps loose all I had.”

Everything in the room seemed to stand still as Ahmed continued. “My heart was conflicted. I knew I wanted this knowledge that would lead to true peace but was the costs too great.” Suddenly I woke from my dream! In the days that followed I wondered if what I dreamed really happened. I doubted my memory but my heart wanted this knowledge. I wondered how I could find it... where would this search for truth take me?”

In this land true knowledge about the Christian God is rare and hard to find. For people like Ahmed it is against the law to change one’s way. Ahmad began to wonder who could he trust. Where could he go to find out more?

Days turned into weeks and Ahmad’s thirst only grew. Then when he started to think there was no way to discover more he met a man in a coffee shop. He was a man of the Book, a Christian. Since that initial meeting many discussions have taken place. “There were many days I left our conversations struggling to comprehend the meaning of our study. I began to realized that this knowledge would have to come just as much through a step of faith as well as study. One night I asked Isa to become real to me.”

The months and years that followed was all the man in the dreams said it would be. Ahmad’s family is very disappointed and angry, his job was lost, but his faith is growing and his heart is full. Ahmad’s transformation continues as he learns daily about the true living God. He lives on his own, works small jobs and is in conversation with several other men, who like himself once sought truth but didn't know where to find it.

For many who decide to become believers in this region of the world danger is always present. Hardship is not just limited to the economics or family but radicals persist and are always willing to act. Please pray for these converts to Isa. Pray for their safety and conviction to remain strong in the face of persecution. One by one they come, one by one they grow, and one by one they multiply.

This is your investment. This is your joy.

Mark Szymanski

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