The God Who Reveals Mysteries: Dreams and World Evangelization -- By: George H. Martin
SBJT 8:1 (Spring 2004) p. 60
The God Who Reveals Mysteries:
Dreams and World Evangelization
George H. Martin is M. Theron Rankin Professor of Christian Missions and Associate Dean of the Billy Graham School of Missions, Evangelism and Church Growth at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. He has served with the International Mission Board in Southeast Asia.
The casual observer might suppose that dreams are the stuff of which Disney movies are made. Mention the concept of dreams, and many will return in their memories to those childhood nightdreams that either delighted or terrified. Yet others, who have traveled along the higher education highway, will hear the word “dreams” and immediately think of Sigmund Freud and his particular slant on such phenomena. Whatever one’s thoughts concerning dreams, it is clear that they are a frequent part of the human experience, and “enlightened” Western minds should not ignore the reality of dreams when dealing with various cultures and religions. Throughout human history, literature, religion, and the enterprise of daily living, one will discover the existence of dreams.
The second chapter of Daniel, in which the prophet explains to Nebuchadnezzar that there is a “God who reveals mysteries” and who speaks through dreams (2:28), is only one of many instances in the Old Testament where God communicated by means of dreams or visions. Continuing throughout the New Testament, dreams and visions constitute an important means by which God communicated with human beings.
Because of the recurrent reports of dreams, particularly in missions contexts around the world, today’s missiologists and missionaries are debating the role and significance of dreams for missions and world evangelization. Though the number of written materials devoted solely to the place of dreams in missions is not great, a quick search of the missiological journals produces some interesting results—an increasing number of dream reports, particularly about seeing a white robed figure understood to be Jesus, and a corresponding call to pray for and employ dreams as an important, even the most important, means of world evangelization.
Today, reports of dreams and visions in which Jesus is seen declaring, “I am the way,” are flooding out of Muslim lands. According to Erich Bridges, there is “an increasing openness and turning to Christ—often preceded by dreams or visions of him among potential converts.”1
This article examines the phenomenon of dreams, especially as it relates to the work of missions and evangelization among the world’s Muslims. From different, yet related, perspectives—a bibl...
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