Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Visiting the Sick

“….I was sick, and you cared for me….”  Matthew 25:36b

“It seems like you visit a lot of sick people,” Susan remarked.  Yes, visiting sick Muslims happens on a regular basis in my ministry among them. That is not exactly where my comfort zone is. I grew up fearing doctors and hospitals and every time I heard someone was sick I was afraid I would get that sickness. When someone died it spread fear in me. I had a phobia about entering a hospital. Definitely not nurse material….And here I am today visiting many sick Muslims!  All I can attribute that change to is the power and love of God at work in my life.  Strange that God would plan for Ed and me to minister at a hospital among the poor in Pakistan.  I guess over time I rose above my fears and was able to see the patients’ need for comfort and prayer.

Shazia refused to tell any Muslim that she had an operation less they would conclude that Allah was punishing her for having done something wrong or she was having bad luck. She did run into one Muslim during her recovery and told her a lie about her condition.  She was afraid of condemnation.  Shazia wanted to know why Canadians didn’t think like Muslims. She wasn’t afraid to let Canadians(meaning non-Muslims)know her problem. I explained as Christians we are not afraid of the evil eye, or believe that God is punishing us when we get sick or have operations. We are secure in the truth that God loves us and is with us.

However, at the same time, Muslims have a strong belief that they should visit sick people and they do.  But often they are afraid to. Fatalism plays a large part in how they respond to a sick person. It encourages our Muslim friends when we visit them when they are sick and recovering or dying, give them real hope rather than reinforce fatalism,  pray for them and reassure them that God is not punishing them. They are so receptive to hope, comfort, and prayer. A comforting hand laid on their head or arm, or a kiss on their forehead when we leave the hospital room speaks volumes to them. When Shazia was discharged from the hospital I put her runners on her feet as she wasn’t able to. While I thought nothing of it she was touched deeply that I would handle her shoes and feet. Having flowers or a card sent to them does not mean as much as being with them in person.  If we can take them to the doctor and stay with them for lumps being checked they will be so grateful.  One friend took a taxi to the hospital for day surgery and didn’t tell anyone about his problem. He suffered in silence and alone. I “scolded” him for not letting us know.  He figured a Canadian wouldn’t want to be bothered.  The biggest gift we can give our Muslim friends is to be present with them and to pray for them in the name of Jesus. It is surprising how responsive they are at these vulnerable times.

Dear heavenly Father,  I want You to visit my Muslim friends during their sickness.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.