Wednesday, October 10, 2018

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 the world of evil spirits and 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. 

Monday, September 3, 2018

Ready...Set...GO!

“Now go, and do as I have told you. I will help you speak well, and I will tell you what to say. But Moses again pleaded, “Lord, please! Send someone else.” Genesis 4: 12-13

I ran races as a child at school. The races would commence when the words “ready, set, go!” were heard. It meant move to the starting point, get set to move, and GO. No race is ever run without taking that first step.

Over the years I have conversed with numerous compassionate Christian women who want to reach out to Muslim women but find it difficult to take that first step. Their enthusiasm and vision reveal that they are ready and set but they wait for everything to fall in place which usually means an existing program to plug into, a Christian organization to become part of, a pastor or mentor to coach them, a co-worker, a husband, or for some Muslim woman to suddenly appear in their lives. Without those things in place they are immobilized to move forward – to go.  They hold back getting involved at all. Indecisiveness, lack of self-confidence, lack of familiar structure, and fears of the unknown, failure, or rejection hinder their progress. They wait. They procrastinate. They weigh things carefully. If you can relate to this then this post is for you. Our hearts can be ready but not always our feet.

Getting involved in Muslim ministry/friendship in western nations requires being a self-starter. If you join a mission organization or NGO in an Islamic country you would go as a professionally skilled person and most likely work within an existing program or have the backing of someone to start a program. But let’s say you are in Sydney, London or Chicago and you have a part time or full time job. Or you may be a stay at home mom or a university student. You believe that God wants you to reach out to Muslim women. If there is a structured program you can plug into go for it but if not, and you know you are called by God to reach out to Muslim women, then you can start by approaching a Muslim woman in a natural setting such as a store, neighborhood, school or park and say hello. Taking that first step of being a self-starter will often lead to the next step: developing a relationship – not a program or a project, but a relationship. We can not normally plan, strategize, organize, or structure evangelism. It will usually be spontaneous and natural(or rather supernatural), instigated by the Holy Spirit and bathed in prayer. We won’t have much control but the Spirit will be in full control. So, don’t be afraid to take that first step. God will be with you, my friend! You can do it. We can’t run the race if we don’t start.

Dear heavenly Father, help us to move forward in faith and courage in befriending Muslim women. In Jesus’ name, Amen.