Palestinian Muslims Coming to Christ, Story #19

This excerpt from my dissertation is the conversion-story summary of Respondent Nineteen, a male from Nablus. Feel free to interact in the comments or download my dissertation as a free PDF!

The following is ©2014 University of Pretoria and Craig Dunning, and if used elsewhere, should be cited as:

Dunning, CA (2014) Palestinian Muslims converting to Christianity: effective evangelistic methods in the West Bank. Pretoria, South Africa: University of Pretoria, PhD thesis, pp. 370-372.

Respondent Nineteen was thirteen years old when he made an initial profession of faith.[1] His profession of faith was connected to his family’s conversion process. Initially, due to a medical need, his parents began visiting with some Christian men from Jerusalem who gave them Bibles, Christian literature and told them Bible stories.

In the process of his parents and siblings coming to faith (see Respondents Four, Five, and Six) he repeatedly heard the gospel from about the age of ten. However, as a result of the religious environment in which he had been raised, even as a pre-teen, he had certain objections based on the teachings of the Qur’an and general Muslim culture. For example, he knew that Muslims did not believe that Jesus is God and he had heard that Christians prayed differently than Muslims. He was also afraid of the social problems that could result from converting. Specifically, he was afraid of losing his friends, but only occasionally did he voice any objection to the process his parents were undergoing.

As the meetings continued, several things lessened his concerns: he specifically mentioned the teaching of the Christians, reading the Bible, and the conversion of other family members. Privately and secretly, he began to read the Bible and pray for specific things. He prayed for his sister’s medical problem to be solved. It was. He prayed for good grades at school, and he received good grades. He also saw the positive changes that occurred in the lives of his family members who professed faith in Christ.

At the age of thirteen, he considered the things he had heard in the family Bible meetings during the past three years, the things he personally read in the Bible, the answered prayer, and the changes he saw in his family and made a profession of faith in Jesus, which was cause for celebration among the other family members who had already done the same.

Shortly after his profession of faith, his family he was relocated to a safe house and given a recreated identity. In that context, the family participated regularly in a fellowship of MBB believers. In fact, all members, except the pastors, were from a Muslim background. For approximately three years, the respondent lived with a Christian identity, and during that time, he experienced no serious doubts, regularly participated in the fellowship, and read his Bible. However, at the age of sixteen he had a disturbing dream that he marks as a turning point in his faith.

In the respondent’s dream, a regular Christian man [i.e., not Jesus], who was dressed normally, died and resurrected threee days later. When asked what the dream meant, the respondent said, “I felt away from Jesus when I had the dream, and it meant that Jesus is the right way.” He could not explain why he felt “away from Jesus,” but was certain that he was. As a result of the dream, he prayed the prayer of salvation and began to distinguish himself as a “real Christian.”

The respondent was unable to distinguish what made this profession of faith different than the first. It was not clear if the lack of a prayer of salvation on the first occasion was an issue. Neither could he say that anything in his life – sin of some kind – convinced him that he had not believed on the first occasion. Everything rested on a single dream that he understood to mean that he was “away from Jesus.”

In an effort to clarify what he saw as the pivotal points of his conversion, the respondent was asked to fill in the blank: If it was not for ___________, I don’t think I would be a believer. The respondent quickly answered, “family.” He went on to explain that had he not seen his “family go through the process of believing in Jesus, going from darkness to light,” he would not have been able to believe himself.

Themes that emerged in this interview: Personal Bible reading, formal Bible studies, prayer, dreams, crisis, family/group conversion, the “prayer of salvation,” common objections to the gospel, and fear or shame as a barrier to the gospel.

[1] The respondent was age 19 at the time of his interview.

NEXT: Palestinian Muslims Coming to Christ: Story #20

Download my dissertation as a free PDF!


  1. Craig, is there a different answer you would have hoped for in the fill in the blank question rather than “family”? Did that answer surprise or satisfy you?

    • CraigDunning says


      You ask a good question. In an effort to better understand the priority the respondents placed on the various elements of their conversion story, I generally tried to stay out of the way and let them speak. On occasion, I needed to clarify their answers with a question. And that is what happened in this interview.

      I wasn’t necessarily surprised or satisfied with the answer at that time because by that point in my research, I had already realized that West Bank Arabs “connect dots” that wouldn’t naturally connect for me. In cross-cultural research/communication it is important to balance cultural realities (i.e., thought processes; the challenges multilingual, cross-cultural communication, world views; etc.) with the correct answer to a specific question. We saw that in the Sudanese church, right?

      At this point, I’m comfortable with his answer because I understand what he was thinking, which is to say he was addressing the mechanics of his conversion. I don’t think his answer was qualitatively different than saying, “I wouldn’t be a believer if someone had not shared the gospel with me.” (Paul supports such reasoning in Romans 10:13-15.) The respondent could perhaps have been more theologically correct with a variety of answers, had he been thinking in that direction.


      • Hi Craig, thanks for responding and giving more info behind the answer. I understand better his reply. I have recently heard a few testimonies that sound “off” in some way but in some they make a very clear testimony in what they believe NOW that somewhat alleviates my concerns as to what was said about their original “coming to faith”. The decisional formula of Western Christianity just doesn’t seem to jibe with the rest of the world. I’ll send you a testimony I recently heard and that will explain better what i mean. I;m using a German Keyboard,,,sorry for the typos.

        • CraigDunning says

          I’m looking forward to the testimony you referenced.

          I deal with the “formula” of conversion in Chapter 3, which is my literature review, which begins on page 69. In that section I address decision in a way that I think is helpful. If you have time, give it a read, then offer some feedback.

Speak Your Mind


This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.