Monday, October 5, 2015


….You welcome me as a guest… Psalm 23: part of verse 5

A friendship had not even been established with a Middle Eastern refugee family of eight when they invited us to their home for a meal. Jamal and Bushra put on a lavish spread in their simple small home. We felt bad they spent so much money on us. There was a language barrier between us but that did not seem to bother them. I asked what each dish was called and practiced saying the words which delighted them. They delighted in honoring us as their guests. Left-over food was put in a container to send home with us. Later I returned the container to them with some freshly baked cake. That was the beginning of a relationship which has flourished into a friendship.

Showing such a display of warm and generous hospitality towards strangers and friends is an outstanding characteristic of many Muslims no matter which Islamic country they come from. They are our teachers when it comes to hospitality.  Buying, preparing, cooking and serving many dishes of food, plus cleaning up, might seem too time consuming and exhausting to us, but for them it is a delight and an energizing honor to do so. While outreach in Christian circles uses entertainment by music artists, charismatic speakers, programs, and dvd and book resources, outreach to Muslims will be most effective through home hospitality.

It speaks volumes when we invite them over for tea or a meal. We can start with a tea invitation.  Cake(usually without icing), some fresh fruit and nuts are sufficient. A meal of fish or chicken, rice, and salad usually goes over well. Reassure them when you invite them that you will not serve pork or alcohol so they can come relaxed about those prohibitions. Some are concerned that chicken or beef would be halal according to Islamic slaughtering standards. Nowadays we can buy halal meat in many of our grocery stores.   It works best if we invite just one individual or a family over rather than a group if we desire to go further than just serve food and extend a friendly welcome.  Religious monitoring of each other is common. Ministry and sharing will deepen if there is privacy.

Did you notice that the first eight letters of the word hospitality spell hospital?  Hospitality provides the environment when God, our Healer and Savior, often causes their emotional wounds, painful memories of war or fleeing, present struggles and challenges, and fears and anxieties to come to the surface.  We  suddenly move beyond  a cultural exchange of customs. It is within the private context of a warm, loving, and safe Christian home where they can open up and share their hearts and stories. Listening to them usually creates the climate to offer praying for them or reading from the Word. This touches them deeply.  We can share our stories with them, too. I often share about my past wounds and the healing found in my Savior. To say hospitality is fruitful and powerful is an understatement. Hospitality is much more than serving food. It is potentially a dynamic healing ministry.

Dear heavenly Father, please take me deeper into a hospitality ministry that goes beyond serving food and exchanging cultural customs.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Wednesday, September 30, 2015


"Yes, I try to find common ground with everyone so that I might bring them to Christ.” I Corinthians 9: 22b

We were invited to a summer fun event at a large refugee housing complex. Everywhere I looked I saw fully clad Muslim women and girls. Modesty in clothing attire for the Muslim woman is mandated and often monitored by others whether her body is covered sufficiently. The level of modesty or lack of it usually communicates if she is reflecting being "a good Muslim". To us all that fabric might be perceived as oppression but to them it is a code of honor. It is her duty to uphold the honor of her husband, Islam, and the reputation of her family. She is taking all precautions necessary to communicate purity and honor. Since her initial understanding is that western nations are Christian and she sees so many women showing a lot of skin, hair, cleavage and curves the assumption is that Christian women  must not be moral.

I will never forget the day when a Pakistani woman in the village pointed to my elbow which was not covered and remarked that was bad. To her a bare elbow reflected immodesty and questionable character. Cultural accommodations with my dress had to be implemented or my spiritual message would not have been understood. I was willing to sacrifice some of my dress freedoms. It wasn’t really so much a personal choice or even done out of deep love. It simply was a given. When in Rome do as the Romans do.  I desired that the name of Christ be lifted up honorably and would go to almost any extent to be sure His name was not maligned.

Then God redirected me to my homeland to engage with Muslim women.  I was "no longer in Rome". I realized that if I was going to reach Muslim women in my own country and the majority of them are dressed conservatively I would need to dress modestly with not too much skin showing or I would not get a hearing for the gospel. 

How does one even define modesty? Muslim women define it. Generally speaking Christian women do not.  A Muslim woman will say Islam is easy because it legislates, defines, dictates, and in some cases enforces clearly what is not permissible or permissible.  I have been set free from living under law and desire to live by grace. What do grace and freedom look like in the context of cross cultural evangelism?  Upon return to my homeland I began asking many questions. One thing I have discovered is that it takes a long time for a practicing conservative Muslim woman to understand the gospel even when I am dressed modestly – but if I am not then it could take forever – or maybe never. The message of the cross is already an offense but if I am not dressed somewhat modestly(according to their understanding) then there is a double offense. Yes, I would make that personal choice and some sacrifice for the sake of the gospel to get a quicker and clearer hearing no matter what. It has been worth it because I love Muslim women whom God has called me to share the Good News of Jesus with.

Dear heavenly Father, I am resolved from a heart of love to do whatever it will take to bring Muslim women to Jesus Christ, Amen.