Friday, July 19, 2013

Feeling Inadequate

“…And who is adequate for such a task as this?” II Corinthians 2:16b

The Muslim presence was obvious as I milled about at the summer barbecue party put on at a housing complex for refugee newcomers. It was proving to be a challenge to chat with the newcomers because the music and the MC’s voice were so loud. You couldn’t miss seeing the Somali women in their bright traditional long dresses. As I socialized with Afghans and Iraqis I quietly groaned inwardly, Oh Lord, how can these Somali women be reached with the Good News? They are so difficult to connect with. Surely there must be one open woman here. Show me who, Lord. I waited for the Spirit’s nudging and direction.

Finally, as if taken by an invisible hand, I walked over to two Somali ladies, said hello, and inquired about their names. Amran and Rasamal didn’t respond well until I told them my Somali name was Farahea and that I had grown up in Mogadishu. We literally had to yell to each other; often in each other’s ears, because of all the racket. They wanted to know where I was from originally. I went through the list of countries and ended with “but my real home is jannat(heaven).” Amran, in her limited English, referred to heaven and hell as upstairs and downstairs, while Rasamal informed me that, “You have to obey all the rules – all of them – and fast and say prayers to go to heaven, and it is very difficult to get there.” “No,” I answered loudly, “it’s not difficult. It is actually easy. It’s a gift.” She couldn’t believe it. That was news to her. I told her I was going there. “Are you sure?” Rasamal asked incredulously. “Yes, I’m sure,” I replied, but Rasamal again emphasized, “ It’s difficult. And besides, when you were in your mother’s womb Allah wrote down where everyone would go.” I said, “Well, God wants you to go to heaven. He loves you.” She said, “I love God.” To which I replied, “And God loves you, Rasamal.” I repeated it three times but it didn’t compute that God would love her. She wanted to know how she could know she could go to heaven if it was easy. I told her the Injeel explains it but the ladies did not know what the Injeel was. I yelled, “You know…the book that talks about Isa Masih.” Amran shook her finger at me and yelled dogmatically that Isa was a Muslim and is not the Masih. I yelled, “Isa is alive.” “Yes, I know,” she yelled back, “He’s upstairs, not downstairs.” I knew I couldn’t say(yell)more in that setting so changed the subject and moved on to another group of Somali ladies.

Watching my 20 months old granddaughter trying to learn how to fish, with a cast on her leg, was a picture of me sometimes trying to learn how to “fish for people.” Her mother coaches her nearby. I can feel inadequate when basic Biblical information is not understood, English is limited, there is a fatalistic world view, and fingers wag in disagreement. Inadequacy wells up but God’s Spirit, who coaches me helps me to press on.

Dear heavenly Father, I need Your help in witnessing. In Jesus’ name, Amen.