Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Giving Cards for Mother's Day

“Never! Can a mother forget her nursing child?  Can she feel no love for a child she has borne?  But even if that were possible, I would not forget you!”  Isaiah 49:15

Abdul read without any embarrassment some flowery poems he composed about his mother. No doubt his beautiful sweet wife wished he would compose some endearing poem about her. Muslim mothers are sacrificial in their love for their children; especially their sons. Islam and the culture esteem motherhood. They have taught me a lot. 

The job of motherhood among my Muslim friends is presently being challenged as more and more women juggle outside work and motherhood. They are frequently left with most of the domestic responsibilities resulting with new tensions in households. It has been my observation that  conservative Muslim women who stay at home and have not had higher education surprisingly appear quite peaceful and secure. Not always but it has been an observation. There seems to be an acceptance of their prescribed role. Perhaps there is a resignation that it would be either impossible or not permissible to enter the working world outside the home. Some of my other Muslim and Jesus follower friends, however, feel enormous pressure to help share the financial load with their husbands. When they do go to work outside the home they often experience significant tiredness.  As a result the subject of motherhood comes up frequently on my visits in their homes. These young women look to older women to speak into their tensions; especially if their mothers are across the ocean. Many of them feel pressure from our western society’s value to become independent and have a job. Some of them harbor a sense that something is wrong or deficient with them if they don’t.  One of my Muslim friends asked me for help in filling out her citizenship application. There was a question on the form: Do you stay at home? Give your explanation. I was shocked they had to explain. 

Recently I went to a card store and bought many beautiful Mother’s Day cards which will be given to my Muslim and Jesus follower friends.  Encouraging and affirmative words about motherhood are sentimentally expressed in them. It delights me to give these cards to my friends and then ask if I may pray that God will help them and bless them in their big job of mothering. Single moms or moms who have lost a child through death are given priority attention. Sometimes I give them a real or a silk rose or even a bouquet of flowers along with the card. A homemade cake is a lovely gesture of blessing. In the past we have had Mother’s Day parties where the group shares about their mothers. Mother’s Day is an excellent time to speak into their lives and also to share how God’s heart is like a mother’s, full of unconditional love and tenderness. Such sharing often sounds unfamiliar but attractive to them.

Mother's Day is a time when Muslims and Christians experience a common bond of each having a mother.

Dear heavenly Father, please give me an opportunity to speak of Your heart to my friends this Mother's Day. In Jesus' name, Amen.  

Tuesday, March 6, 2018

The Band Aid

“We are made right in God’s sight when we trust in Jesus Christ to take away our sins…” Romans 3:22

Hamida and I were engaged in an intense discussion about Islam and Christianity. We were going around in circles getting nowhere. I knew that the root issue of sin needed to be discussed for that is where everything breaks down. Finally I took a band aid out of my purse. “I want to tell you a story, Hamida, about my daughter.”

I shared with her about the time when Christina kept putting band aids on one of her fingers every time she had her flute lesson. So one day I asked her why she was always wearing band aids. “Because I have a wart on my finger and I don’t want my teacher to see it.” “Oh!" I exclaimed to Christina. “You need medicine to take the wart away, not just cover it up.” Soon after medicine was applied and the wart was gone.

Hamida instantly understood when I explained how we think we can cover up our sin by wearing a hijab, doing some good deed, giving money to the poor, keeping Ramadan faithfully, and saying our prayers five times a day. We don’t want anyone to see our sinfulness – not people and not God. She affirmed that and laughed nervously. We feel ashamed of our sinfulness much like Christina felt ashamed of her wart. When we feel shame we want to cover up our shame in some way that will make everything look okay. Just like Christina needed the right medicine to apply to the wart for it to be gone, likewise we need the right medicine to take away our sin. All those “band aids” we use to cover up our sin don’t take it away. Our sin needs the blood of Jesus Christ for it to be removed. His blood is the "medicine" provided. She looked at me shocked and said, “that is very haram to say according to the Qur’an.” That led into sharing about how sheep were sacrificed in the Prophet Musa’s time to cover our sin but how Jesus became the perfect Lamb of God who was sacrificed for our sin. It was His blood that atones for our sin.

It is not easy to talk about the subject of sin but it is absolutely necessary. It is important to talk about the blood of Jesus and the meaning of the cross. No Muslim can understand the preciousness of the blood of Jesus shed on the cross without understanding the seriousness of sin and that we can do nothing to remove our sin and shame. Spiritual "band aids" will not get to the root of our sin.  Hawa shared with me recently that not only Christians get born again but Muslims do, too. An imam had explained to her sons that when they say the shahada everything from the past is washed away and they become like a new born baby. I refuted that explanation and said, "It is not possible for the shahada to wash away our sins. Only the blood of Jesus can do that." Any other way or device is a "band aid" but does not heal us from our sins.

Next time you go out and take your purse slip a band aid in it. Perhaps you will have an opportunity to explain the spiritual lessons we can learn from it.

Dear heavenly Father, please help my Muslim friend to accept the free gift of salvation. In Jesus’ name, Amen.