When the world sees the barbaric acts of ISIS, there tends to be talk of either war or hopelessness and defeat. Despite the evil, some Christians say God is at work in areas where darkness seems to reign.
As ISIS conquered parts of northern Iraq and persecuted Christian minorities, the Gospel actually began to spread.
"So besides the darkness coming in, trying to get the salt and light out—killing lives and bringing so much pain and suffering—on the other hand, we're seeing the rise of the presence of God, worship, prayer, experiencing Jesus and people being open to the Gospel and being open to follow Him, even from Muslim background," one man named Fabian, who asked that his full name not be disclosed, told CBN News.
Fabian leads a house of prayer in Kurdistan. He said he's met a number of people who've had supernatural encounters with Jesus.
"People in these streets and in these refugee camps, from places where ISIS has occupied, even people from here are encountering Jesus in dreams and visions," Fabian said.
Those divine encounters are not limited to ISIS-controlled areas. It's a phenomenon happening throughout the Middle East.
CBN News met with some Iranians visiting Kurdistan who wanted to share their stories. We concealed their identities for their own protection.
"Suddenly, one of the nights when I was in my bed, I just dreamed and the Light was speaking as I'm speaking to you now," A woman we'll call "Abby" told CBN News. "It was speaking to me and calling my name verbally and saying 'Come to me. I will save you and I will rescue you.'"
"But I didn't understand, actually, how this could be. Others in the dream said, 'Come with us, please do not hesitate. Come to us and we will rescue you.' I believed in the dream, but I didn't surrender my whole life to the source of the light, which was Christ," she explained.
That decision soon followed for "Abby" and her mother.
"This year, about seven months ago, we made our own decision to follow Jesus with all our hearts," she continued.
"When we came here, they gave us an explanation about the life of Christ and the Kingdom of God according to the Gospel," she said. "Here we realized the dream that I dreamed was Jesus. He is calling us to give us salvation and to give us rest, to give us life."
CBN News asked what dangers Abby faces back in Iran.
"If people knew about my faith, I would be rejected by the people," she said. "This is a kind of social persecution. If the government knew about my faith, I would be executed or hanging in the street at once."
Another woman, "Barbara," began to read the New Testament.
"When I first started to read the Gospel, a power came out through the Bible to my heart," she explained. "It was just like a small rock in the middle of a sea, yes, of the sea ... a power came into my life and I felt that I'm not the same person."
"I'm about to reborn and coming out from something very dead, very bad and something that happened to me is unique," she said.
Then came her dream.
"One of the nights when I went to my bed I saw, I saw Jesus," she continued. "He was talking about me in heaven—about the Kingdom of God. When I saw Jesus, He was pointing out to me. Later He told me that I had to read the Gospel in order to strengthen my faith and be able to share my faith with my friends."
"I didn't see actually His face, but I saw His form, you know," she recalled. "He was a King and His kingdom—or His kingship rule—was over the whole universe and everybody was bowing down to Him. He was talking about His kingdom and I was one of those who stood before Him."
CBN News asked Barbara how she feels now.
"I feel I have a very huge, big treasure. As much as I'm giving away from it, more comes back to it," she said.
"You know Iran is a very dangerous place. If you don't think just like the others or the majority, you'd be considered as a rebel," she said. "So that means you will choose your fate or your death by your own hand."
"Claire" came to faith through a scripture and a friend.
"When I was reading the Bible, I couldn't ask others to give an explanation about the passage that I'm reading, but then I went to university," she said.
"During the studying at the university, I met an Armenian girl. I asked her so many questions concerning Christianity: How do they live? How do they worship? - Many things like that about the Christian life," she explained.
"She answered my questions and that introduction caused me to make my own decision," she said.
That decision changed her life.
"You know the faithful Christ brought me many blessings," Claire continued. "I cannot describe faithful Jesus in some words. But things which I cannot say in some words have happened to me."
"Whenever I'm praying and I'm lifting up my feelings in my heart to God, I do believe and I feel the hand of God touching my heart and shaking my heart," she said.
The King's Crown
A man we'll call "Dennis" also had a dream.
"In the dream, I still remember some marks on His face and that He was wearing a crown, a King's crown on His head," he recalled. "Very strong brightness came out of each part of His Body and many people were bowing down before Him."
"I still live on the memory of that dream. It's still alive in me and it's with me every day," he said. "I remember in my mind the sense that I saw in Heaven. He's showed me many different things since I believed in Jesus. But that dream became a turning point in my life."
CBN News asked if others are coming to Jesus inside Iran.
"Yes, many people are coming to Christ through a dream. You cannot imagine how Jesus is appearing to them. I experienced with my own eyes that everybody is looking for a home; looking for the truth," Dennis said.
"You know the experience that the Iranian people are passing through right now is very difficult. The only one who can change that situation is Christ Himself," he said.
"So please pray and ask the others to pray for the people of Iran to experience the power of the Resurrection," he said.
Iranian mullahs try to quench Christianity in their Islamic Republic. Despite those efforts, missionaries say Iran has one of the fastest growing churches in the world.
While politics and extremists rearrange the Middle East, Fabian and others say the Holy Spirit is working at a much higher level to change lives.
"The harvest is very ripe and people are desperate. They have lost everything. They are in pain. They need help and they are ready to listen and people need to know that," Fabian said.
"That, yes, there's many bad people that want to kill and destroy, but there's so much more people who are desperate for answers in life," Fabian said.
"And we, as the light and salt, we need to be here for such a time as this," he said. "To be His voice and be His Hand and bring the Gospel of the Kingdom to their lives."
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