Thursday, June 1, 2017

Celebrating Pentecost

“And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counselor, who will never leave you. He is the Holy Spirit, who leads into all truth….he lives with you now and later will be in you.” John 14: parts of 16-17

Sadia asked, “Joy, do you know what that is on the coffee table?” “Yes, I do, Sadia. It’s the kaaba,” I replied. The big plastic cube with the black kaaba encased in it was a new addition to their living room décor. Sadia was very proud of it and looked at it affectionately. Now she thought, I have the house of Allah right in my living room. I could tell the structure gave a sense of order and a “closeness” to Allah. Inwardly I prayed, Thank you, Lord that you have made your home within me. Thank you for Pentecost!

Amal has a way of defending Islam every time I visit her. We won’t even be having any spiritual conversation and her defenses go up. Usually the conversation is about Islamic rules which pertain to wearing the hijab, prayers and fasting, refraining from pork and alcohol or interest free banking, etc. I can tell that Amal is searching for approval from Allah. Thank You, Lord, that I don’t have to live by the law but can enjoy life in the Spirit. Thank you for Pentecost!

This year Pentecost comes during Ramadan. I want to shout my gratitude to God how He brought about a paradigm shift from law to grace. Pentecost during Ramadan? Beautiful! Where is your focus? 

A Libyan Muslim lady asked me one day, “Joy, if Jesus died and came alive, where is He now?” “He’s right here, my friend,” I replied. A Somali man asked me, “Joy, what does Pentecostal mean?” “You really want to know, Abdi?” I asked. “Yeah,” he said. He listened in utter amazement to the story of Pentecost. Wow! I never tire reading the story in Acts 2. The rushing wind, the tongues of fire, the speaking in unlearned languages, the force of witnessing power and Presence unleashed among the bewildered people from many nations – what can be more thrilling?

Recently I tried to imagine what it would be like if Jesus Christ just died, was resurrected, ascended to heaven and that was the end. What if there had been no Pentecost – no coming of the Spirit of Jesus Christ to reside in us? Pentecost changes everything! One thing is for sure: I would not be in ministry among Muslims if the Holy Spirit had not come on Pentecost. I would not dare venture out to share my faith with Muslims if I did not have the Holy Spirit living within me. It’s important to clarify to our Muslim friends that in the Bible the Holy Spirit(al-Ruh al-Quds) is not the angel Gabriel(Jibril). I not only want to share about the death, burial, resurrection, and ascension of Jesus to my Muslim friends but also tell them about Pentecost. Often we share about the death, resurrection, and ascension of Jesus and then skip to the return of Christ but leave out Pentecost. 

Dear heavenly Father, please help me not to be reticent to talk about Pentecost to my Muslim friends. In Jesus’name, Amen.