Lotta Stories ‘Bout Jesus, Ain’t There?

Question from Kole:
Hello, I have seen testimonies lately, about people meeting Jesus. A few are: Nasir Siddiki, (former Muslim who had really bad shingles and claimed Jesus saved him)

Afshin Javid (former Muslim who claims Jesus spoke to him in a jail cell)

A story of a former Muslim woman who claims she had gall stones so bad she was in the hospital, she was in so much pain, she called out to Jesus, he appeared, cured her. Then when the doctors came later, she had no gall stones, everyone was baffled

Many NDEs where a person has a hellish experience, they call out to Jesus, he suddenly transports them into a positive place.

The thing is, there are many examples of people claiming to have interacted with Jesus, and many claims state that when they call to him, a bright light appears right away. One man said he was in hell and when he started to say Jesus, before he could finish the light appeared. Afshin and Nassir, plus the former Muslim woman all describe a bright light appearing right away, after they call out to him, and they can talk to him, he helps them. There was even a few NDEs I came across where Muslims say they were in hell, or in a life threatening situation called out to Allah, no response. Then they tried “Jesus” and suddenly a light appeared and rescued them. Does this to you prove that Jesus is the correct way to go? Does this prove Jesus to you? If you were to google it I assure you that you would find similar stories. I just don’t get how this can be.

Answer by SmartLX:
As you can see I’ve added a couple of links above to where I’ve already addressed the claims of some of the people you mentioned. The woman, Amy Ghazal, is new to me but it’s similar to other tales we’ve had here, Siddiki’s in particular. Like what’s come before, we have only her word and not her hospital records.

In any case, it’s been on record since 1979 (see this article in the NMA’s journal) that gallstones can in some cases spontaneously dissolve or disperse. This is exactly why Ghazal was scanned again before surgery; the surgeon already knew he should double-check on the day, and while he would have been surprised to see the gallstones gone he would not have thought it a miracle. That was all down to her.

You hear so many of these conversion stories because there is a way for you to hear them, and it’s hard to miss. The 700 Club disseminated Ghazal’s story, and Javid was trumpeted by It’s a New Day. Christians eat up stories like this, it feeds directly into the “one lost sheep” mentality of redeeming those on the outer. That’s why televangelists and other preachers seek the stories out and parade them before you.

People convert the other way, of course, and it can be an equally intense experience; I daresay you’ll find some fascinating stories on this list. You just won’t hear about it on Western public access TV.

Tackling Testimony

Question from Michael:
Hello I was wondering what your thoughts on this conversion story. I am an atheist, and for some reason this one is a headscratcher for me. I on a whim in a effort to appease a family member of mine and to be open minded watched the Its a new day Christian show. And they had a Muslim who converted to christianity and I first I thought big whoop, and then he got into his story and I honestly don’t have a really good reply for what he is claiming he did. Some of it is to me, obvious woo woo on par with things like being abducted by aliens, but some of it is well beyond my abilities at explaining things.

The closet thing I found in his own words to what he said on the tv show was these links

http://canadianchristianity.com/faith/iranian-muslim-encounters-living-word/

Another thing that was said on the show was that he went to Bangladesh and healed people in the name of Jesus and if he didn’t heal them he would have been killed by the people there. I at first thought of Peter Popoff and Benny Hinn and later people like Kathlyn Kulman. But still I would like to know what you guys think.

Thanks.

Answer by SmartLX:
I found his testimony on YouTube, where he says most of what you describe.

While it’s nice to be able to explain stories like Javid’s, and I’ll try to help with this, you are not obligated to explain away every story you’re told. Javid’s testimony is entirely unsupported except by appeals to Javid’s own character, and Javid makes money from people who believe it. If some evidence showed up, then there’d really be something to explain.

As you say, there’s plenty of woo in the account of his textbook “religious experience” in prison. The bulk of it, even if it’s true from his perspective, consists of him alone in his cell speaking to Jesus, a Muslim demon and primarily himself for weeks on end. It honestly sounds like a prolonged psychotic episode.

Notice that the “djinn” appears to him exactly as described in Islam, but Jesus’ words and behaviour match his Christian depiction perfectly. A New Testament demon or a Muslim version of Jesus might have been a surprise, but to Javid the two characters were as if ripped straight from two mutually exclusive texts. It’s like a comic book one-shot crossover where Superman fights a T-800 Terminator. (That happened, actually.)

The one other mortal in the story is the man who amazingly knew to give him a Bible – after he asked for one, possibly loudly enough that word got out into the prison population that a Good Book might calm the fanatic. As for the language aspect, firstly the man now speaks English so he learned it at some point, probably in prison since there was English reading material there, and secondly it wasn’t his first Bible so he might have projected it (probably badly) from memory.

The story of faith healing on pain of death (which isn’t in the linked video) does not give me pause even if he really was in that situation. Faith healers are extraordinarily effective in a way; while there’s no sign of any real healing, the sheer faith they generate is incredible. After a concert-scale faith healing by Oral Roberts or Benny Hinn, the genuinely sick and desperate people in the audience will go away unhealed, brokenhearted (or just plain broke) but convinced that a few people up the front received miracles. If Americans, Britons and Australians can be taken in by these performances, why should the Bangladeshi be any different? The ones with the guns just had to think someone was healed.

It’s worth pointing out to whoever pointed you to Javid’s story that Javid himself doesn’t expect anyone to be directly converted by his testimony. (Here’s the moment in Part 2 when he says just that. He challenges people to pray instead.) It’s funny, in light of this, that It’s a New Day had him on for this very purpose. (Hear the hosts talk about it in the promo.) Just spreading the Word doesn’t make it stick.