16th Apr 2019

Tall, stunning, and dressed head-to-foot in flowing black, my new Muslim acquaintance strode out the front door of the office to shake my hand.

“It’s a pleasure to meet you,” she said, “I am Aiysha. Please come inside.”

I had never met a Muslim before this moment. I smiled awkwardly, clinging to my little two-year old daughter’s hand. I had left the suburbs and driven into the city on a personal quest, a hunt for global compassion in my local context. I swallowed hard and dragged myself into the modest refugee resettlement office.

Aiysha sat me down, poured me coffee, and wasted no time. “Why are you here?” she asked evenly.

I stumbled across the thoughts jumbled around in my head, trying to think how to explain. I decided on genuineness. “I’m a follower of Jesus, whom you call Isa al Masih in Arabic, and I’m trying to put His words into practice.” I glanced around at her bare office, which overlooked squares of government housing. Countless Sudanese families made their homes in those blocks, only an hour from my white-picket fence back yard.

“I know this might sound kind of crazy,” I continued, “but I was reading His teaching about loving your enemy.”

 

WHAT HAD BROUGHT THIS EDUCATED, POISED, SINGLE WOMAN TO OUR COUNTRY?

 

Aiysha’s black hijab hugged her neck and forehead, framing her luminous, beautiful eyes and a porcelain face. I wondered what had brought this educated, poised, single woman to our country.

She leaned forward and it encouraged me to continue.

“Jesus said to love your enemies and pray for those who do harm to you. I can’t think of any enemies, except people I don’t really know. Because of 9/11, the thought crossed my mind that maybe Muslims would be the closest thing to an enemy I might have.”

I wasn’t sure how she would respond. I pulled my daughter up on my lap to make me appear more harmless.

Aiysha didn’t say anything, so I continued, “Well, then Jesus told a story about the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven to judge the world. All the nations of the world stood before Him and He separated the sheep from the goats. To the sheep he said, ‘Come and share in my master’s happiness. I give you the kingdom that I’ve prepared for you since the beginning of time.’ The reason for giving them the kingdom? He said that when someone was hungry, they fed them. When someone was thirsty, they gave them water to drink. When someone was sick or in prison, they visited them. When someone was a stranger, or a foreigner, they welcomed them. And whenever they did this to someone, it was like they were doing it for Jesus.” (Matthew 25:31-40)

I paused and still Aiysha said nothing. I took a deep breath.

 

“I WOULD LIKE YOU TO COME WITH ME AND ASK FORGIVENESS FROM THE AMERICAN PEOPLE.”

 

“Someone told me that Muslim refugees were coming here to our city. So I looked it up on the internet and found your name. It sounded Muslim. I thought it would be good for me to actually meet a Muslim. You also said on the phone that you’re helping refugees, so I thought, well, maybe I could help somehow.”

“Yes,” she finally spoke, “you can help.”

I breathed a sigh of relief and smiled to myself. Already I was envisioning myself organizing a food drive or a clothes collection campaign. I pictured all the refugees gathering around and hugging me and my friends in gratitude. We’d smile at each other and then go home.

Instead, Aiysha suggested, “I just met with a young widow with three small children who arrived this morning from Iraq. If all that you are saying is true, then I would like you to come with me to her apartment tomorrow.”

She paused before continuing. “American soldiers accidentally killed her husband. I would like you to come with me and ask forgiveness from the American people.”

What happened the next day is a story for another time. What happened over the course of two more years is a story that will please the watching multitudes cheering us on from heaven.

Living as a follower of Jesus transforms you and the people around you. It’s not easy. It’s not glamorous. It’s often surprising.

Maybe you’ve never met a Muslim. Find one and just be their friend. I promise you that your worldview will expand, your perspective will be widened, and your experience with Jesus will climb to new levels.

 

Muslims make up one-sixth of the world’s population. Most people groups that still have no Gospel witness are Muslim.                                                                                    

Maybe it’s time for you to meet a Muslim and be their friend.

 

 

By Jeannie Marie

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Aisha looks pale and weak. “Fasting is so hard right now,” she confesses to her neighbour, Maimouna.

“You’re too ill to fast today,” Maimouna scolds her. “I’m making you something to eat.”

Aisha knows she doesn’t have to fast this Ramadan. Islam exempts pregnant women like her from fasting. But if she doesn’t fast now, she’ll have to make up all the days she misses before the next Ramadan.

Women of childbearing age often miss several days—or even the entire month of fasting each year, due to pregnancy, nursing, or menstruation. But Aisha knows it will be difficult to make up days after her baby arrives. So she has chosen to participate in the Ramadan fast anyway—in spite of the health risks.

Aisha’s frightened by how weak she feels while fasting, but what concerns her more is the thought of not doing everything required of her to reach heaven. How can I please God if I can’t even fast and pray properly? she wonders.

• Pray that Muslim women who feel trapped under the weight of religious duty will discover salvation through the mercy of Jesus Christ.

• Ask God to show Muslim women the futility of their own works in the light of His goodness and loving kindness.

• Pray they will know the promise of true rest in Jesus (Matthew 11:28).

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2 days ago

Day 19 Friday 24th May

Children

“People were also bringing babies to Jesus for him to place his hands on them. When the disciples saw this, they rebuked them. But Jesus called the children to him and said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these.” Luke 18:15-16

Four-year-old Hamza tells his mother he wants to fast. He’s heard other local boys bragging about fasting and Hamza doesn’t want to be left out of the experience.

“Fasting is difficult,” his mother replies. “And you aren’t yet required to fast.” She suggests he practise by not eating for two hours before sunset. Hamza accepts the challenge. Around 5:00 pm on the first day of Ramadan, he begins his fasting.

An hour later, Hamza’s mother finds the boy sitting on the floor of the larder, munching on toasted pumpkin seeds. “I’m still fasting,” he declares, looking up at her with big brown eyes.

Hamza’s mother smiles and suggests he collect money for the poor and memorise a couple of verses from the Quran. She tells him that if he does enough good deeds and avoids bad ones, he might be able to get to heaven when he dies. But no one is telling Hamza how much Jesus loves him.

• Ask God to reveal Himself to Muslim children, touching their tender hearts with the assurance of His abiding love.

• Pray for Muslim children to meet Christians who will tell them about the Saviour.

• Pray that children will know the truth that they cannot earn God’s righteousness, but that it comes as a free gift from Jesus Christ.

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3 days ago

Day 18 Thursday 23rd May

Men

“Praise the Lord. Blessed are those who fear the Lord, who find great delight in his commands. Their children will be mighty in the land; the generation of the upright will be blessed.” Psalm 112:1-2

Jamshed pushes his cart to the market, squinting in the bright light of afternoon. Usually he starts work before dawn. But during Ramadan, no one goes out shopping that early.

Jamshed raises chickens and supports his family by selling eggs in the market. His wife helps him run their little farm and he’s grateful for it.

He hears how some husbands in the community resent the ways their wives and children depend on them. But Jamshed prides himself in caring for his family. Living in their conservative Muslim society, Jamshed acts as the public face for the family. He manages their public affairs, such as going to the market and visiting government offices.

It’s not always easy and Jamshed feels the weight of these responsibilities. To make matters worse, the price of eggs has plummeted since his country loosened trade regulations with neighbouring countries. Foreign imports have inundated the market and Jamshed has had to lower his prices. He feels powerless to care for his family now.

• Ask God to capture the hearts of Muslim men. Pray they learn to walk in His ways and lead their families in love and righteousness,

• Pray that those who carry heavy burdens of responsibility like Jamshed, will discover that Jesus’ yoke is easy and His burden is light (Matthew 11:30).

• Pray for Muslim men to embrace the truth of the gospel and welcome the peace of Christ to dwell in their families, marriages and homes.

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4 days ago

Day 17 Wednesday 22nd May

Women

“They will come and shout for joy on the heights of Zion; they will rejoice in the bounty of the Lord—
the grain, the new wine and the olive oil, the young of the flocks and herds. They will be like a well-watered garden, and they will sorrow no more. Then young women will dance and be glad, young men and old as well. I will turn their mourning into gladness; I will give them comfort and joy instead of sorrow.” Jeremiah 31:12-13

Nazneen knows how to make herself invisible. She cloaks herself in a large semicircle of fabric, which she wraps around her head and upper body. Silent, unremarkable and unnoticed, she goes out into the public—the domain of men.

Inside the home—the domain of women—Nazneen is anything but unremarkable. She sheds her veil and radiates life. She’s loud and gregarious. Her two children, 8-year-old Tarek and 5-year-old Adeleh, are mesmerised by her. She teaches them verses from classical poems, sings village folk songs with them and spoils them with plump seeds she plucks from the pith of fresh pomegranates.

Throughout the neighbourhood, Nazneen is known for starting impromptu dance parties. Every afternoon, women visit each other for tea and conversation. But Nazneen quickly tires of the gossip. She inevitably breaks into song, clapping for other women to join her, pulling at their veils until they comply. She doesn’t rest until each woman removes her headscarf and joins in the party. This is when she feels alive.

• Pray for Muslim women to be drawn to Jesus Christ, turning their singing and dancing into praise and worship.

• Ask the Lord to reveal Himself to Muslim women, showing them that He is the God who always sees them and cares for them (Genesis 16:13).
• Pray that Muslim women will discover the joy of salvation and embrace the goodness of the Lord in all their joys and sorrows.

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5 days ago

Day 16 Tuesday 21st May

The Urban Poor

“Come, all you who are thirsty, come to the waters; and you who have no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without cost.” (Isaiah 55:1)

Alian’s cash is running out.

Just before the start of Ramadan, he borrowed money to buy oil, onions, rice, milk powder, sugar and tea—enough to last his family through the month of Ramadan. Alian felt proud of his resourcefulness in planning ahead and buying items in bulk. Most of the year, his wife buys only enough for the day’s needs, just as everyone in their poor community does. Few can afford to purchase more than that.

The first of week of fasting, Alian bought dates, meat and pastries for his family’s iftar meals. But as happens each Ramadan, the shops have inflated the prices of food items.


Now the electricity bill is due. If he pays it, he’ll be left with just enough money for a few more days of meat. But Ramadan lasts for two more weeks and his loan is due to be paid soon.

Like hundreds of millions of Muslims living in urban poverty, Alian dreams of the day when his family no longer worries about their next meal.

• Ask the Lord to act on behalf of vulnerable men, women and children. Pray for people living in poverty to be set free from unjust systems and cycles of debt.

• Pray for Muslim families to discover their true treasure is in Christ, who gives freely and generously.

• Pray for more workers who will reach the hundreds of millions of Muslims living in urban poverty, and pray they develop endurance and grace to persevere in bringing the gospel to the poor.

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6 days ago

Day 15 Monday 20th May

Refugees and Internally-Displaced Persons

“The Lord opens the eyes of the blind. The Lord lifts up those who are bowed down; the Lord loves the righteous. The Lord watches over the sojourners; he upholds the widow and the fatherless, but the way of the wicked he brings to ruin.” (Psalm 146: 8–9)

Little Zaynab doesn’t remember life before the war in Iraq. She was a year old when her father bundled her up and fled with her and the rest of their family just as ISIS descended upon their town. They travelled 50 miles on foot to a camp for displaced families in Northern Iraq.

Unlike the tens of thousands of Syrian families who crossed the international border into Iraq, Zaynab and her family are not officially considered refugees. They are among the three million internally-displaced persons who’ve fled their homes and stayed within their country. Many displaced families who have tried to return home have found their houses and towns destroyed.

Zaynab knows she isn’t alone in the camp, but she often she feels lonely and unseen.

• Ask God to lift up those who’ve been forced to flee their homes. Pray they turn to the Lord as their stronghold and provider.

• Praise God for the hundreds of Bible study groups that have started in camps throughout the Middle East. Pray that fellowships of new believers will multiply across the region.

• Pray that more labourers will go and serve refugees and displaced families and bring them the eternal hope of Christ, who sees their struggle.

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The Narrow Escape 14th May 2019

In the heightened spirituality of Ramadan, Joel found it easy to share Jesus with Muslims.

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Day 20 Saturday 25th May

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