One of the truly remarkable spiritual movements of our day is the fact that tens of thousands of Muslims from North Africa to Indonesia are dreaming dreams and seeing visions of Jesus. These appearances of Jesus are deeply personal and as life changing as Paul’s vision on the road to Damascus.
“‘Jesus the Messiah’ is the name they hear in these ‘Resurrection appearances’ for that is what they are for those who experience them. The people who see these visions find each other and new ‘house churches’ are emerging from those encounters. These house churches, as in China, prefer to remain ‘under the radar,’ and naturally they use the styles of worship with which they are familiar. In November of this year I was privileged to receive authenticated news of one such movement in which those involved have indeed come to faith in Christ out of Muslim background. Naturally their style of prayer follows the graceful and reverent Islamic worship style of kneeling and bowing the head to the ground in a sacrament of surrender of the whole person to God. Yes, but what direction do these new worshipers face? Islam began by praying facing Jerusalem and then changed critical parts of its theological focus as it shifted to face Mecca for its prayers. Where do these new believers face as they pray?
So what direction are these new believers in the East facing for their prayers? Is it towards Jerusalem or Mecca? Where is God uniquely present for them? Whichholy city forms the focus of their worship? Are they in the process of becoming Christian Zionist and do they thereby face Jerusalem? Or do they preserve not only the style but also much of the theological content of their Islamic past by facing Mecca? The answer is simple and profound. They pray kneeling, not in a line but in a circle as they remember the promise of Jesus, ‘Where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I in the midst of them.’ God is uniquely present in a person, not a city.”
* * *
Dr. Ken Bailey, born and raised in Egypt of missionary parents, was presented the first Heritage Award of Evangelicals for Middle East Understanding (EMEU) in 2010