Saturday, February 1, 2020

Abortion

“You watched me as I was being formed in utter seclusion, as I was woven together in the dark of the womb.” Psalm 139:15

Not all unmarried and married Muslim women have a sense of owning their own bodies or being allowed to make independent decisions about birth control. We can expect to hear some sad and tragic stories about the subject of abortion.  

Sweet beautiful Afsana was beside herself with anxiety. The ultrasound revealed that she was carrying a child with an abnormality. Her husband who was highly educated didn’t relish the prospect of having a son who might not be brilliant so he insisted his wife have an abortion. Afsana and I talked about the possibility of the medical assessment not being correct. Afsana, going against her husband's demands, courageously decided not to go ahead with it. To Afsana’s delight and relief her baby was born normal. She was so thankful that she hadn’t gone ahead with the abortion.

Amina has never recovered emotionally from the abortion she had. She had it done because she and her husband were living in dire poverty conditions as refugees in a transit country. She felt guilty (and still does) but no matter how much we have looked at the Gospels about forgiveness for every sin upon repentance through Jesus Christ she will not allow herself to be forgiven. And so she continues to suffer mental anguish to this day.

Fatima and I talked about how some women will do anything to get pregnant including paying thousands of dollars to undergo IVF while others are desperate to abort their fetuses. I asked Fatima what Muslims believe about abortion. She said, “Well, there are some who believe that it is okay to have an abortion in the first trimester. After that is when life(the soul) begins.” What one hears publicly – that an abortion is a sin in Islam - and what is interpreted privately can be quite different.

I was unprepared as a new missionary in Pakistan to deal with something unfamiliar to me up to that point in my life.  I was concerned about Shahina one particular morning so decided to go to her home and find out if she was okay. What a shock to discover Shahina lying unconscious on her bed, blood all over. A local untrained midwife was at her bedside trying to make her come to. Fortunately I was able to get her to the hospital immediately or she would have died. The midwife had stuck a stick up her uterus to kill the fetus and nearly killed her in the process. These things happen where it is illegal to have an abortion or the woman has been raped and become pregnant and would be condemned as guilty and where there are no adoption laws to legally transfer the baby over to anyone except to a relative to be cared for. But those are not usually babies born in shameful situations. Often the woman's life is in danger. There are no pregnancy crisis centers to get counsel and help and be provided with options. 

I wonder what I would have done if I had been Shahina, a victimized, disempowered, vulnerable widow living in a conservative Muslim country who had been taken advantage of by a man, or Afsana whose body was controlled by her husband(or mother-in-law), or Amina living as a poor refugee in transit barely able to find enough food or suitable shelter. I have heard too many stories.  I don't have all the answers or solutions. Suddenly I find myself becoming a pregnancy crisis center for these precious women. Thankfully here in my western country there are options but not everywhere else in the world.

Dear heavenly Father, please help me to know what to say and do when my Muslim friend talks about abortion. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Wednesday, January 1, 2020

Pastoral Evangelists to Muslim Women

“He is the one who gave these gifts to the church: the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, and the pastors and teachers.” Ephesians 4:11

A Saudi doctor went to the university and requested someone to help his wife learn English. I was contacted and went to their apartment. There was a beautiful arboretum of tropical plants near the lobby where tenants socialized.  I asked the doctor if his wife enjoyed it. “No,” he replied. “She has never seen it. She goes on the elevator and down to the underground parkade with me when we go outside.” I was shocked at her restrictions. There were many wonderful spiritual opportunities to share in their home. One day I asked if my husband could come with me and visit them but the doctor said no. What a privilege to be a woman and gain access into their home. However it's  not always easy for a Christian husband to gain the same access as his wife because of cultural taboos.

The Church desperately needs to raise up women who will be validated, equipped, sent out, prayed for and supported to be pastoral evangelists to Muslim women. Muslim women comprise the largest unreached people group. One out of five females(babies, girls, women) in our world is a Muslim. Christian men are largely restricted from sharing Christ with Muslim women. Culturally most Muslim women can not have access to men unless they are  related to them. Millions of Muslim females are restricted from moving around freely in the outside world. Their lives are lived mostly within their four walls where men can not go. Even if the women are somewhat liberated and hold jobs they still prefer to socialize among women. This is a generalization as there are cultures where the mixing of the genders is acceptable. How will Muslim females – girls and women – hear the Good News in a culturally acceptable way? I believe we Christian women need to awaken to the fact that God has chosen to use us.

Nowadays many Muslim women can hear of or read the gospel on the internet or television but they need to encounter an incarnate witness to give it a human touch.  That kind of evangelism  will  best take place inside either your home or the Muslim woman's home, in privacy,  on a one-on-one basis and within the context of a growing trusted relationship. It is a hidden and slow ministry. It is both pastoral and evangelistic. Hidden away in our churches is a growing number of Christian women becoming aware of the need of reaching Muslim women and feeling compassion towards them. They really desire to meet them and share the Good News of Jesus Christ with them. They don’t know how or where to begin. They need to be released to be God’s pastoral evangelists. They need to be affirmed, validated and sent out. They need to be equipped by other experienced Christian women.

My sister in Christ, if you sense God has gifted you to be a pastoral evangelist to Muslim women, don't shrink back.  Your church leadership, friends or family may not understand or grasp this calling yet but just go to Muslim women and share the love of Jesus with them.  He will strengthen and use you. I can testify that this high calling brings abundant joy and blessing and eternal fruit. There are many open doors.

Dear heavenly Father, please raise up more women pastoral evangelists in our churches. In Jesus’ name, Amen.