Friday, September 16, 2016

Vulnerable Mothers and Babies

“And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from his love….” Romans 8:38a

After giving birth to our son at our mission hospital in northern Pakistan the visitors started coming. One person gave us a doll, larger than our newborn, and some pink satin fabric. That seemed very strange to us because we usually associated dolls and pink with girls more than boys. Our local house helper was perplexed how I could fit into Jonny’s small crib. It was unthinkable that a baby would sleep by himself. Over the years I have observed babies with eye liner around their eyes and black pouches on strings hanging around their necks. Sometimes little pendants of an eye are pinned to the baby’s sleeper or they wear a gold chain with an Islamic saying. Miniature Qur’ans may be placed near babies where they sleep. One of my friends dressed her baby girl in boy’s clothes. When I asked her why she mumbled something about the jinn. Another friend traced patterns on her baby’s face with her finger. When my twin brother and I were born in Yemen some Muslim women made little bonnets for us to protect the soft fontanel part of our heads from the jinn whom they claimed enter there. For a western Christian all of these things can seem bewildering and strange.

It doesn’t take long for the Christian woman ministering among Muslim women to catch on that newborn babies are viewed as exceedingly vulnerable to sickness or harm which is often attributed to the activity of jinn or the evil eye of jealousy of some other woman. It doesn’t make much difference whether we are living in an Islamic country or a western nation. Many Muslim mothers are afraid of harm coming to their babies and can feel helpless in protecting them. They look for tangible ways to ensure protection and blessing, even if they know such practices are considered haram in Islam. The mother may even be a well educated woman but the scary stories that are passed down to her from her mother, grandmother, and aunties continue to instill fear and anxiety.

It is heart warming to witness the high value put on motherhood in Muslim cultures. If you have a Muslim friend who is a mother affirm that high value and encourage her in the hard work of raising children. When she gives birth to a child make careful observation of any lurking fears or anxieties. Assure her that even though her baby is weak and vulnerable God is fully able and desirous of protecting her baby. God’s jealousy over her baby is pure and good and stronger than any jealous eye of jinn or people. She needs to know that God is much stronger than Satan, jinn, and the evil eye and that He loves both her and her baby very much. It takes faith to believe that. There probably is no better time to teach your Muslim friend about God’s love and power than when she has just delivered a baby.

Dear heavenly Father, help some vulnerable mother this day to know Your deep love and power. In Jesus’ name, Amen.