Friday, October 15, 2021

Halloween Confusion

“…God is light and there is no darkness in him at all.” I John 1:5b
Shuddering, Nabila looked dubiously at a miniature ornamental pumpkin I gave her and groaned, “Oh no… it’s about Halloween.” It obviously didn’t take much to trigger her fear of Halloween.

Hussein begged his mom about getting his face painted and being dressed up like a zombie. Amal would not hear of it but he kept begging. She asked me what I thought about it.

Not all my Muslim friends are frightened by Halloween. Ayaan ushered me into her house and said her mother went to the Dollar Store to get Halloween stuff and would be back shortly.  Her mom came home with masks, pitch fork, and black witches’ hats. Ayaan was so excited and got dressed up placing the hat over her hijab and jokingly announced, “I’m the devil!” 
Generally speaking I have observed that when Muslims are new to our country they often are bewildered by Halloween customs. They are confronted with fictitious graves in front yards, splattered blood, witches, skeletons, spider webs, masks, and ghost figures floating around in banks, stores, schools, yards, etc. It is very strange and scary to them. In the beginning Zahra didn’t want to send her children to school where they would hear scary stories. This year her children will be constructing a mini haunted house in their classroom and they can’t wait for the fun. After a few years of settling here, like Ayaan, they usually lose their initial fears and enter into the Halloween spirit and fun of dressing up and collecting candy. While children view it all as a big joke their mothers don’t always welcome Halloween.
While Westerners, including many Christians, are not very conscious of or believe in the world of evil spirits, demons, witches and sorcerers, Muslims, generally speaking, are keenly aware of the invisible world where jinn live and move and whom they believe can cause harm and be easily provoked. Any reminder of the dark invisible world(or animistic rites) frightens them. Even though my Muslim friends declare Allah is great  and has all power, in reality, their underlying fears indicate that the power of Satan and evil spirits loom larger. 

I find Halloween to be one of the most productive times for witnessing to my Muslim friends. Instead of dismissing their fears I try to get them to talk about them and then bring in the Good News of how Jesus Christ, our Savior, has the authority and power over Satan and evil spirits. There are many good Bible stories to share about how Jesus has victory over the evil spirits.   
Dear heavenly Father, please help me to use the opportunities Halloween brings to speak of how Jesus has the authority and power over Satan. In Jesus’ name, Amen. 

Wednesday, September 29, 2021

Victory - Part Four

“And they defeated him because of the blood of the Lamb and because of their testimony. And they were not afraid to die.” Revelation 12:11

Imagine defeating Satan. Is that really possible? Our personal salvation story, no matter how imperfect the presentation is, has power to it but the story of the Lamb of God, Jesus Christ, has even more power. Huge power!

Yousef listened to the story of the cross for the first time. Shocked, he asked me, “Joy, who on earth would have made up a story like that?” “God did,” I replied. The majority of Muslims have never actually heard the story nor understand the meaning of it. The symbol of the cross is repugnant to many of them. When Bushra was a little girl in Morocco she often walked past a church with a cross on it. She would throw stones at the church because she was taught to hate the cross but she did not know why. Later in life, when she heard the story, she embraced the cross with reverence and acceptance. Omar, from Saudi Arabia, was visiting in our home when we pointed out the cross on the church across the street. He pulled back in horror when his eyes noticed it. But when we told him the story he was dumbfounded.

Satan does not want the story of the cross to be heard by anyone. When we declare it he is defeated. There is nothing more powerful in heaven or earth than the blood of Jesus, the Lamb of God, who is the atoning sacrifice for our sins. As we need to know how to share our own story, likewise we need to know a few tips on how to share the story of the Lamb of God with Muslims.

l. Know the contents of the salvation story. What is it about? Where is it found? Who is the Savior? A Savior from what? Where do you and your Muslim friend fit in? They might not read the Bible because of fear or being illiterate. If so, you will need to tell them the story. Keep it simple and brief.

2. Feel comfortable sharing the story of the Savior in segments, like you might with your own story. A little bit now, a little bit later, over and over. Always check to see if they understand certain words or concepts. Remember you are telling a story, not making a sales transaction. Leave the results to God.

3. Hey, let's not be mousy in sharing. They might not agree but they do admire bold and confident people. The Holy Spirit empowers us to witness. It is not as important to know a lot about the Qur’an or Islam as to know our Savior and the Bible well. Expect a reaction. If there is no reaction, good or bad, that probably means the story was not understood. Just keep trying. Do not give up.

4. Stay focused when sharing the story of the Lamb of God. Satan will for sure attempt to bring distractions. You will know how much your Muslim friend can digest at one sitting. You can pick up the story again at another time where you left off. You will need to repeat the story many times. Rarely is it understood in one hearing.

I love to tell the story of Jesus. Enjoy every opportunity to do so. When our story and the story of our Savior are weaved together it will prove to be dynamite.

Dear heavenly Father, please help me to know how to put the salvation story together. In Jesus’ name, Amen.