One of World Challenge’s partners in Turkey shares how a vision of Christ saved him and his family’s lives and led them to salvation.
Rahim* grew up in a small village near Aleppo, one of the largest Syrian cities before their civil war. His family were all devout Muslims, and Rahim was taught that Christians were unclean and never showered; he and his siblings should never enter one of their communities unless they wanted to catch one of their terrible diseases. Besides, Christians could not be trusted.
These religious enmities, however, quickly took a backseat to ethnic ones when the Syrian Civil War began. Aleppo bore the brunt of the conflict, “where some of the war’s most devastating bombing and fiercest fighting have taken place, in congested residential neighborhoods,” according to New Yorker writer Luke Mogelson.
Rahim and his family are Kurdish, an ethnic minority that was particularly targeted by ISIS and other anti-government rebels during the civil war.
In order to survive and keep the family together, they had to flee Syria.
A Dream of an Unknown Man
Rahim contacted a smuggler who told them that he could get the family off the Syrian coast to Greece on a rubber dinghy. Rahim paid the man, and the family prepared to leave.
The night before their boat journey, however, Rahim had a very strange dream. In it, he saw the face of a man and a cross. He woke overwhelmed by the power and vividness of this vision, despite not knowing who the man was or what the symbol meant. After anxious introspection, he took it as a bad omen for the following’s day’s journey. Unable to shake this feeling, he called the smuggler and cancelled their trip, even though it would put his family in further jeopardy.
Was it the right decision? Or had he just condemned his family over a dream?
A few days later, his questions were answered. The smuggler contacted him and told him that the dinghy he and his family had been due to board had capsized in the Mediterranean, drowning 18 of the 20 refugees onboard. The dream had saved Rahim and his family.
Shaken, they decided to trek across the dangerous border region from Syria into Turkey rather than chance the water crossing to Greece. The whole family made the journey successfully, and while in Turkey, Rahim was introduced to Christ by some other Kurds who had recently come to faith. While they were talking about this Jesus, Rahim was struck by a lightning bolt of recognition.
This was the man and the symbol he’d seen in his dream.
A Leader in Another Land
Rahim and his entire family surrendered themselves to Christ when they realized that Rahim’s dream of the Savior had quite literally saved their lives.
Today, Rahim is one of the house church leaders in Turkey, and he has led more than 100 former Muslims to Christ. He has partnered with World Challenge and works with our support to train other church leaders and oversee new community health evangelism work.
He takes part in Discovery Bible Study trainings that are hosted by the World Challenge team. These trainings are offered in hopes of preparing these leaders in Turkey to not only lead their congregations well but also prepare them to plant new churches and organize holistic ministries when they are eventually able to return home and begin rebuilding their communities in Syria.
In the meantime, Rahim and many others are being found and guided to a heavenly country, one that they long to see as they sojourn in this far more broken land.
*Name replaced or omitted. For our ministry partners’ security, we don’t release names or locations for those living in highly sensitive areas or who have been targeted by religious extremist groups.