“You shall be called by a new name, which the mouth of the Lord will name.” – Isaiah 62:2 NKJV
We just returned from a ten-day tour of Israel yesterday. I’m still pretty jet-lagged, but I had to tell you one of the wonderful God-stories that we experienced while there.
The week before we left on the tour, I received a phone call from the tour company to go over last minute details with me. They also gave me an updated listing of everyone that was going on the tour. I knew the names of the 20 people that I had booked from our church and from other friends. But I didn’t know the names of those the tour company had booked. One of the people they had booked was named “Mohammed.”
“Mohammed?” I asked. “Where is he from and how old is he?”
“He’s from Maryland. He is sixty-six years old.” They answered.
“Is he Muslim?” I asked.
“We don’t know. He was a last minute booking.” They replied.
“OK. That’s cool. I look forward to hearing his story.” I answered.
So, when we arrived in Israel, I was looking for Mohammed. At our first lunch stop I asked him to sit beside me.
“What’s your story, Mohammed?” I asked between bites of falafel. “Why would a Muslim want to go on a Christian tour of Israel?”
“I’m not Muslim anymore.” He answered, while dipping his bread in hummus. “I was a Muslim for sixty-five years, but last year I had several visions of Jesus. He appeared to me. I know it was Him because I saw the scars in His hands as He beckoned to me. So, I decided to become His follower before I die.”
“That’s amazing!” I replied. “So, you’ve been a Christian for one year?”
“Yes, one year. And since then I’ve become obsessed with Jesus. That’s why I decided to come to Israel to see the land where He walked for myself.”
“That’s wonderful! I’ve read well documented reports that Muslims around the world are coming to Jesus because of such visions. It’s become quite a well known phenomenon. Jesus must really love you to appear to you in such a way.” I told him while shaking his hand.
“Hey everyone!” I shouted to those sitting at our table. “You have got to ask Mohammed to tell you his story. It’s amazing!”
“Should I change my name?” Mohammed suddenly asked me. “It seems you assumed I was Muslim because of my name. So, I think I must change it. I want a Christian name.” He passionately explained.
“Well, I’ll be offering to baptize people in the Jordan river in a couple of days. People have been taking a Christian name at baptism for centuries. So that might be a perfect time to consider changing your name.” I answered. “Would you like for me to baptize you?”
“Yes, absolutely. I was hoping for such a possibility. I was baptized by the Catholic church that my wife attends, but I was hoping to be baptized by immersion. So, you would be willing to do that for me?” He asked.
“Have you believed that Jesus died for your sins, was buried and rose again? Have you confessed Him as your Lord and Savior?” I answered.
“I have.” He responded simply.
“Then, on that basis, I will baptize you.” I agreed.
“Great. I’m so happy. Now, I have to think of a new name.” He said with a huge smile on his face.
Following that conversation, I heard Mohammed telling his story to everyone on the tour. He always finished by asking their opinion on what new name they thought he should take. He wanted to have a name from the Bible, but one that still started with an “M” as the first letter. The name that nearly everyone mentioned to him was “Moses.”
But he still wasn’t sure on the morning of baptism. So, I baptized him in the name of the Father, Son and the Holy Spirit as commanded by Jesus, and told him that he could take a new Christian name whenever he wanted.
A couple of days later, when I gave out baptism certificates to all that were baptized, he came back to me with a troubled look on his face.
“Can you make me a new baptism certificate with the name ‘Moses” on it? I’m going to change my name legally too. So, I want to start with my baptism certificate. ” He asked confidently.
“Yes, as it turns out, I have one blank certificate left. Are you sure you want to change your name to Moses?”
“I’m positively sure. Moses saw the burning bush when he was old and I saw a vision of Jesus when I was old. I am like Moses.” He said.
“Yes, you do look like a Moses to me.” I replied smiling.
On the last day of the tour, we had a worship service at the Garden Tomb. We concluded the service by remembering the Lord’s Supper. At that service, I asked Moses to come forward and there I presented him with his new baptism certificate. On it was his new name, “Moses.”
As he stood next to me smiling, he said to everyone gathered there, “Don’t call me Mohammed anymore. From now on, call me Moses!”