By David Phillips
Heron Park Baptist Church
Remember Acts 10? Cornelius received a vision from God and followed through on what he had seen. Before the end of the story, Peter and many of his friends stood amazed at what God was doing in a completely unexpected way.
Hussein, who lived in a Middle Eastern country, gasped at the political direction his country was taking. Writing under a pseudonym, he wrote four short books. Each one questioned a different aspect of his nation’s direction. The author was chased down, located, separated from his wife and three children, placed in solitary confinement and condemned to death.
One night, he woke up after a dramatic dream. In it, he saw a hole being formed in the prison wall. Intrigued, he crawled through it and saw himself in the most enormous hall he had ever seen. Thousands, no millions, of people surrounded a distant platform on which sat a king. He was dressed in dazzling white and called him forward. Looking down at his grubby prison garb, he could only hang his head in shame, unable to approach such majesty. Then a messenger came with these words: “Go to Ankara!”
The next day he was taken out of jail and dumped on the street, thrown out of a vehicle traveling at 100 km. His limp body suggested he was dead, so the car sped off. Amazingly, he lived. Taken to hospital by on-lookers, he recovered and at his first opportunity, he fled to Ankara, Turkey. There, he found poorly-paid work and called for his family to also become refugees. Another identical dream ended with the message, “Go to Istanbul”.
Just before we met him, he had found the Lord as his Savior at an Armenian Protestant Church. Hussein became a dear friend of ours in Istanbul. During the seven years we knew him and his family, he brought more than 40 people to the Lord, almost all of them refugees, like him. Each of these stories is gripping, almost unbelievable.
Because previous injuries prevented him from working physically, he took a job as a writer, helping to pen articles in his heart language. Sent by mail, these stories, Bible studies and commentaries were intended to encourage people living as secret believers in his home country.
One day, Hussein approached Cathie, my wife, and asked her to interpret a dream! He began by relating both dreams mentioned above, each laced with amazing details. He said, “Last night, I heard the king’s message again. It was the same dream, but this time the messenger said, ‘Drape this long piece of cloth around your neck and pick up this pen.’” Cathie, at first puzzled, but now confident in her answer, replied, “I think the Lord is telling you to become a full-time writer. The mantel you mentioned is the kind a minister wears in a church in North America. It’s a symbol of Biblical authority to speak to others, and I think God is telling you and your family to live in yet another country.” How he came to the USA is a whole story in itself.
We are still in touch with Hussein and his family. Today, he is a full-time writer and broadcaster. How we rejoice that he found Jesus Christ in such a dramatic way when he was despairing of life. (To write up his life story and events summarized in this brief article would take many hundreds of pages.)
Rev. David Phillips is an author, missionary and the former General Secretary of Canadian Baptist Ministries.