Thursday, October 16, 2014

Busyness

"On the seventh day having finished his task, God rested from all his work. And God blessed the seventh day and declared it holy because it was the day when he rested from his work of creation." Genesis 2:2&3

Upon arrival back in Canada I was struck with how often the phrase “I am so busy” was uttered by people I conversed with.  It bothered me so much I decided to eliminate the word busy as much as possible from my vocabulary because the word seemed to evoke an inevitable social distancing from others. When busyness attempts to squeeze out my calling to reach Muslims, I pull back immediately from some things.

 Our western culture is obsessed with being busy. It is an acceptable and, at times, even virtuous way of life. It has been amazing to me that in the first two years when some of my Muslim friends are settling in they complain how busy everyone is. It bothers them to see our busyness. Many of them come from cultures where neighbors or family drop in at any time day or night. Nothing takes precedence over showing hospitality. But it does not take long until they, too, catch the fever of busyness and when they do they frequently become even busier than a person born and raised in the west. Soon the words “I am so busy” are coming from their mouths! Fortunate is the woman whose husband will share the domestic responsibilities. For some men that continues to be a shameful thing. If the woman goes to school or works she usually is left with all the household work, plus the cooking for any community events which happen often.

As I have witnessed this pattern of some of them adopting our busy cultural lifestyle it has made me increasingly appreciative of the valuable principle of Sabbath rest which God introduced to us. “Have you ever heard of the word Sabbath?” I ask my Muslim friends. It is a subject addressed frequently with both my Muslim friends and believers from Muslim background. They find it quite interesting and informative and leads into fruitful discussions.  God knows that if we are left to ourselves we will become addicted to either excessive working, studying, or busy activity plus easily succumb to the seductive and consuming lure for material possessions. I talk about slavery to money and that we cannot serve both God and money. The idea of a practical way of curbing our work addiction and materialistic desires actually comes from God. They make us busy. The reason I have found it crucial to address the topic and principle of Sabbath rest early in my relationships is because I have seen how numerous relationships with my Muslim friends have completely and quickly shut down when life becomes busy. There have been great opportunities to share spiritually when suddenly our visits come to a halt which is not usually because of resistance but rather busyness. Times of fellowship with believers also is greatly affected. Their time has become crowded. I have come to realize how vital it is to watch what I say and infer about being busy and to model an uncrowded lifestyle. Easier said than done!

Dear heavenly Father, please help me to model a fruitful life. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Human Trafficking

"Rescue the poor and helpless; deliver them from the grasp of evil people." Psalm 82: 4

 A Muslim single mom shared with me that she had sold her little daughter in Saudi Arabia to be a household slave. She didn’t disclose the reason to me. Probably she needed money urgently. Now she missed her so much and wanted her back. She was in agony. When we meet someone who has participated in the human trafficking world of crime we can feel overwhelmed with sorrow, anger, and helplessness. What can we do?

A young Muslim mom entered the waiting room of the government office and took her seat next to me. Although neither of us knew it at that moment it became clear to me from our conversation that it was no accident she sat next to me.  Rasamal was composed and friendly but when I inquired about her children she suddenly became weak and shaken and her voice was reduced to a croaky whisper. Out tumbled a shocking and sad story of her teenage daughter. Believing she was dead but discovering she was alive she recently travelled to find her. Rasamal, being a desperate and frantic mom,  was determined to find a way to bring her to our country. With a down payment of a large amount of money and a promise to send the rest a “business man” was given the responsibility to traffick the daughter from point A to point B where another “business man” took over to point C. The girl is now held captive in point C where terrible things are happening to her. My sensitive ears could hardly process all the gruesome information there in that waiting room. Rasamal had a deadline to pay the remaining money or else her daughter’s kidneys would be harvested and she would die. If she provided the rest of the money the “business man” would drop her off at a certain location where she would have to fend for herself from that point on. Many of those trafficked victims do not survive. “This is a terrible story, Rasamal! Your daughter needs a miracle. God is very great and He also loves you and your daughter very much.  I would like to pray for you,” I said in shock.  So there in that waiting room I laid a hand on this traumatized and wounded Muslim mom and prayed for her in Jesus’ name. We talked some more and then we both had to leave the office waiting room and go our separate ways.

We can feel so inadequate and limited in helping eradicate human trafficking in all its different forms because the crime is so huge. What can we do? Thankfully many are rising up to be a voice for awareness and justice, sign petitions, or partake only in fair trade.  Others in positions of authority are trying to legally do a part. But what can we as Christians do when hearing about it like I did with Rasamal that day in the waiting room? Really, all I could do was pray for Rasamal and her daughter. I do believe something happened in the heavenly realms as a result even though I will probably never know.

Dear heavenly Father, please rescue those caught in human trafficking and heal them. In Jesus’ name, Amen.