Friday, June 26, 2020

Zubi's Secret

“One day the girl said to her mistress, “I wish my master would go to see the prophet in Samaria. He would heal him of his leprosy.” II Kings 5:3

Eight year old Zubi covered her ears to drown out the sounds of guns and shouting. She was tired and bored of staying indoors so she wouldn’t get hit by stones being thrown by angry people. Many nights she went to bed crying. She wanted to go outside and play but she couldn’t. One day her family finally received permission to settle in Canada. There were so many mixed emotions. She had to say good bye to her grandma and grandpa, aunties and uncles and school friends. At the same time she was excited about experiencing her first plane ride.

In the beginning everything was a big blur for Zubi in her new homeland. She was able to talk with her relatives back in Palestine by skype which helped ease her initial homesickness. At school she had to learn English. Only a few girls in her class wore headscarves. One day Ruby, who lived next door, met her outside and they started a wonderful friendship. They didn’t go to the same school but they played together. Ruby had immigrated from an eastern European country and could understand Zubi’s loneliness and adjustments. “Why do you wear that scarf, Zubi?” Ruby asked. “Because I’m a Muslim,” she replied. Ruby explained that she was a Christian and went to church. Zubi became curious. Ruby invited her to church the next Sunday and she went. But Jamal and Habiba, Zubi’s conservatively dressed and devout Muslim parents, didn’t want her to return to the church on Sunday mornings. So Ruby suggested she come to Kids Club on Wednesday nights. Zubi begged her parents. Finally they gave permission. There in the Kids Club she heard wonderful stories about a kind Jesus who loves her and there was always an exciting craft time. She met Sherry, the Children’s Pastor, who loved her immediately. Every week Zubi looked forward to Kids Club. She was the only girl in the Club who wore a headscarf but no one made fun of her. Once in the Club she made a beaded cross on a string. Zubi loved that cross but she knew she would get in trouble taking it home. Her mom and dad would make a terrible scene and forbid her to return to the club. What should I do with it, she wondered? “Ruby, would you keep my cross safe at your house? My mom and dad will get upset if they see this,” Zubi explained. Ruby agreed to keeping Zubi’s cross necklace a secret at her house.

The key points of this story are based on true facts. Young Muslim boys and girls are getting exposed to Christianity in western lands. That usually happens when a Christian boy or girl befriends Muslim children next door or at school. Children, although aware of the differences between themselves and other children in regards to dress, food, skin color and religion, generally don't judge. Like Ruby, our children can become representatives of Jesus Christ to Muslim children living among us. During this COVID-19 season when churches, clubs, or camps may have some  health directive restrictions in place our children may still have some personal access to their friends from Muslim background.

Dear heavenly Father, help my child or grandchild become an attractive representative of Jesus to a Muslim child in my neighborhood like Ruby was. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Monday, June 8, 2020

Rain


“Ask the Lord for rain in the spring and he will give it. It is the Lord who makes storm clouds that drop showers of rain so that every field becomes a lush pasture.” Zechariah 10:1

The patter of rain against window panes is inviting and mesmerizing. My attention is riveted away from other things as I am taken captive to its gentle rhythmic sound. Rain speaks to me. The rain pelting down on the tin roof of my dormitory room at Bingham Academy in Ethiopia can still be heard in my audio memory bank. The sudden down pouring of the monsoon rains in Pakistan would wash away all the debris which had collected over time surrounding our summer home in the mountains. There was such a welcoming sense of the land being cleansed. Day after day during the monsoons I would sit on my back steps overlooking the valleys and hills and be in awe of how they turned varying shades of rich emerald green almost overnight. I have always loved the sound of rain. It is natural music and has a mysterious way of refreshing and soothing one’s soul. Suddenly the rain stops and the sun comes out. The birds, happily chirping away, flock back to the bird feeder once again and the green grass shimmers with rain drops. The trees break forth in new foliage and the flowers grow and blossom. Rain brings physical blessings and pleasures.

I’m not the only one who enjoys rain. My new believer friend, Amal, remarked one day to me, “I love rain.” When I asked her why she replied, “It makes me feel close to God. I like to pray when it rains.” She doesn’t fully understand that physical rain is symbolic of the Holy Spirit raining down His blessings and His presence upon her. It’s been interesting to observe Amal. She’s like fresh green grass growing after a spiritual rain shower. As the Holy Spirit touches her soul it is as if He has rained on her. She can look so refreshed and delighted after we read Scripture and discuss it and enter into a time of prayer. I love it when she says, “Oh, that was so good.” Her soul is fertile ground and after the spiritual rain has soaked her soul new growth is obvious. This is what makes Muslim ministry worth all the long hard work picking up the “stones”, plowing up the hard soil, planting the seed and waiting to see it bear fruit. Beautiful life and growth come from spiritual rain.

“Rain on me, Holy Spirit,” I often ask the Lord. Oh, how I need to be refreshed in my soul after encountering resistance, opposition or just the inability for my Muslim friends to understand the Good News. The clouds gather and weigh heavily upon me. Then the “rain” falls gently upon my soul and washes the languishing discouragement away. Like Amal, I love both physical and spiritual rain. We ask the Lord for physical rain when it is needed. Why not ask the Lord for His spiritual rain, too?

Dear heavenly Father, I need Your spiritual rain to soak my soul to keep going in this ministry. Please rain on me. In Jesus' name, Amen.