Saturday, October 23, 2010


“….He has planted eternity in the human heart…” Ecclesiastes 3: 11b

“My name is Claude”, an Arab lady repeated numerous times to me. It can’t be right, I thought. Finally I asked her husband how he pronounces her name. “Oh, Khalood,” I responded. “That sounds better. What does it mean?” He replied, “Eternity.” I was surprised with such a fascinating name. Imagine calling your baby eternity. It was obvious they both cherished that name. I affirmed it was an excellent name to live by and began discussing the subject of eternity. Wow - just like that in the first five minutes I can start talking about eternity?!

“Joy, that missionary lady doctor in Pakistan deserves to go to the highest level(there are 7) of heaven – the one closest to God,” my Pakistani grad student friend stated. I thought, if only she knew that she could be with God for eternity in heaven; not just one notch closer where He is still inaccessible. There will be no barrier. Together. All because of His matchless gift of grace to us.

“Don’t think, Joy, that what we are doing is for this life. It’s for the next life,” my close Muslim friend informed me about why her people are diligent about saying their prescribed prayers and fasting. “You mean so you will gain entrance to jannat(heaven) and be spared from jahannam(hell)?” I asked. I thought of the sweet fellowship with God I experience when I pray right now – not for the purpose of my future destiny awaiting me.

“What’s that?” asked a brand new believer in Christ when I told her she now had eternal life. Such a common phrase for us but a new concept to many.

I explained to a Muslim stranger that I was born in Yemen, grew up in Somalia, went to school in Ethiopia and Kenya, lived in the USA, my husband brought me to Canada, we lived in Pakistan and spent a short stint in Tunisia. She looked incredulously at me and asked, “So, where do you feel like you belong?” I told her, “It’s really not as important to me about where I have come from, as to know where I’m going. And I know I’m going to heaven which will be forever.” Every Muslim I share that with is curious about that response. They are very conscious of eternity; unfortunately more of hell than heaven much of the time.

There’s a knickknack on my desk inscribed with the word eternity on it. To speak of eternity – heaven and hell – with non Muslims can sometimes be awkward but not with Muslims. That’s what I love about being with my Muslim friends. We can talk about eternal matters easily and quickly. It’s about the present time that brings some difficulty. Whereas with my own people it seems that the present is everything and eternity is far away. It’s the reality of eternity that keeps me reaching out to my Muslim friends with the Good News.

Dear heavenly Father, there is so much joy in this eternal life you have given me as a free gift. And more to come! Accept my humble thanks for Jesus who made this possible, Amen.