Thursday, August 27, 2015

Issues and Apologetics

“What do you want me to do for you?” Jesus asked. “Teacher,” the blind man said, “I want to see!”  Mark 11:51

Zahra fell into my arms and cried the first time I visited her. I could not speak her language and she didn’t know English. There was no way I could understand what she was crying about. But I followed her into the kitchen where some of her daughters were crying. At least one could speak English. She had just gone to a pay phone to call police that her dad had beaten their mom. After about an hour the police came and arrested Zahra’s husband right in front of me! The mom and daughters were left scared and overwhelmed with uncertainty. I wondered what I should do or say. “May I pray for you?” I asked. The teenage daughter who could speak limited English asked very sweetly, “Are you a Christian?” “Yes, I am,” I replied. They were very happy to gather around and be prayed for. They were the picture of a flock of little lost lambs. I knew more discussion could take place at future times. Right then there were some big issues and needs at stake.

 Praise God that many Christian women are eagerly getting equipped to reach out to Muslim women. It's necessary to be prepared to answer objections Muslims have about the trinity, the Bible being the Word of God, Jesus being the Son of God, His divinity, Jesus' death, his burial and resurrection, etc.  However, in real life, when we visit our Muslim women friends, we often discover they have issues that are troubling them. A lady may be plagued with not being able to get pregnant, wrestling with jealousy about another rival wife, struggling with a health concern, debating whether to have an abortion, not have access to money, has fear of losing a son to a gang or his accessibility to drugs, she has recurring nightmares, fears the evil eye, is terribly homesick, is grieving from a relative dying back home, fears a daughter will get too independent, or has a husband who is absent half the time, is under stress in her graduate studies, feels overworked, and so forth. There are many issues they face.

While we may focus on being prepared for their objections to arise we may actually miss grasping the issues they are working through. In our pursuit of needing to know all the answers to objections and fear that we might not remember all the apologetic material we can so easily forget these women are real human beings experiencing the complexities of life in a new country. They may actually be clinging to the security and familiarity of Islam and not be ready at all to have a conversation about faith or listen to our apologetics. They will come up but most likely that will happen later. I have tried to make it a practise to first really listen and observe well. Pressing issues suddenly are revealed. It is into those issues I first speak and minister. Then when the objections surface - which they will -  I will speak into those.

Dear heavenly Father, please help me to speak into both pressing issues and objections according to Your direction. In Jesus’ name, Amen.  

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Influential Muslim Women

“As a result, many Jews believed, as did some of the prominent Greek women and many men.” Acts. 17: 12

 I was surprised receiving an evite from Dr. Amal to a Muslim women’s party. Wow! My friend is really with it with all the latest technology, I thought. The time arrived and I felt a twinge of apprehension. I wasn’t accustomed to mixing with people with such opulent wealth. Beautiful Arab ladies, bubbling with childlike joy, stepped into the posh home, glad to have a night out with their women friends. All of them except one were doctors from the Middle East and North Africa who were nearing completion of their medical specialty studies. They were bright and energetic. They carried themselves with confidence and an air of elegance. Most of them were young mothers juggling family, studies, and being on call. The tasty foods, laughing, games, and dancing made the evening come alive. “What do you do, Joy?” each would ask as I moved among them. “I teach the Bible to anyone interested,” I answered. There would be a pause of silence. It took a little while for each of them to process my occupation. I wondered what they thought.

“What do you think of us Muslims?” one vivacious Arab doctor asked. “Are we like other Muslim women you’ve met?” I assured her that I found them very intelligent and beautiful. And that I loved being around all kinds of Muslim women. I didn’t tell her that, behind the high level of education and prestige, fear of the evil eye and jinn affect many Muslim women, whether highly educated or illiterate, rich or poor. It wasn’t long ago I visited an Arab medical specialist in training. For the entire three hour visit she had loud taped chanting of the Qur’an droning in the background. “I get afraid of the jinn,” was her reply when I inquired about it. “It makes the jinn go away.”

It has been an eye opener to be friends among some of these hard working influential Muslim women.  How my heart longs to see them become influencers for spreading the Good News of Jesus Christ. As I listen to their stories I realize the doctors, especially, are privy to hearing about a lot of fears and anxieties from another class of Muslim women who come to them for medical treatment. An impression I frequently pick up among Christians is that we view all Muslim women as downtrodden, controlled, abused, and victimized. Certainly there are many who  fall into that category but there is also a significant number of powerful, influential Muslim women professors, doctors, researchers, government officials, property owners, owners of private universities, authors,  engineers, and architects. I have met quite a few of them. The more education they receive the more likely they will not be as suppressed or victimized.  Wouldn’t it be awesome to witness a modern day influential Lydia of Thyatira or see some Muslim women, like those prominent Greek women Paul wrote about, blaze new trails for the Kingdom of God? Let us not generalize negatively about Muslim women; especially those living in democratic countries. All need the Savior.

Dear heavenly Father, please bring salvation to some influential Muslim women and use them powerfully for Your glory. In Jesus’ name, Amen.