Saturday, March 8, 2014

Talking About Heaven

"...for the throne of God and of the Lamb will be there, and his servants will worship him."  Revelation 22:3b

The appropriate time came in our friendship to give Afsana a booklet in her language about salvation. Since she had a few years of education back in her homeland before coming here she had basic literacy skills, but her English was still greatly limited. We had a serious language barrier. How I longed for an indigenous witness but that was not a possibility. When I asked her to tell me what the booklet said her English was so broken that I could understand very little. Finally, I brought out a 5 inch wordless book from my purse to show her. She laughed when she saw the size of it and that there were no words in it; only colors which intrigued her. Her mother, Amina, sat nearby on the floor trying to absorb the conversation.  She knew even less English and never went to school in her homeland.

Showing them the shiny gold page I asked them slowly, “Would you like to go to heaven?” Blank look. “Bahisht, firdous, jannah….?” “YES!” they replied. “What do you think heaven is like?” I asked. They thought awhile and said, “Everyone keep roza(fasting). Everyone pray(nimaz). Everyone give meat to poor people. No gunah/sin. Flowers.  Many flowers.” Pointing to Afsana’s black head covering I asked her, “Do you think you will wear the hijab in bahisht?” She pondered momentarily and replied, “Probably.” I mentioned that there would be no marriage or having babies. She looked disappointed. It was obvious from her expression that Afsana was hoping to resume marriage and have more babies with her husband who had passed away. Obviously to Afsana and her mother heaven is a place and time when Muslims would finally become perfect Muslims. When I shared that we would see God there was not much response.

  One thing was certain with Afsana and her mother:  there would be no sin there. That made it easier to speak about the black page and white page in the booklet but when it came to the red page they were stumped. They were convinced that red stood for the blood of sacrificed animals at “Eid Al Qurban/Adha”.  When I explained to Afsana it was the blood of Jesus on the salib(cross)through whom we receive forgiveness and the punishment(azab) for our sins is taken away she listened very carefully while her mother was not able to go beyond sacrificing a sheep. I went over the booklet a few times and then asked Afsana to tell it back to me. I think she got it. Her mother was still stuck in her Islamic thinking. Afsana was thrilled she could keep the little book with no words. Even though I was in Canada that day it felt like I was in the wards back at Bach Christian Hospital in Pakistan sharing the evangelistic message.

Whether educated or uneducated, rich or poor, in the west or in the east, all seem interested in talking about heaven. The wordless book can be used with some ladies while with others books like Heaven Is For Real can prompt further conversation.

Dear heavenly Father, thank you for the incredible knowledge of heaven we have in the Bible. In Jesus’ name, Amen.