Celebrate Ramadan

So what are you doing for Ramadan this year? The Jewish high holidays are also right around the corner. These holidays make for wonderful conversation opportunities. There are people from the Middle East all around you, and they have not yet heard the Good News. God has brought them here –to you–so they could hear the Truth of Jesus and join the redeemed sons and daughters of the LORD.

If you pray and ask Him, He will give you opportunities. He will also give you courage.

The Lord has filled you with His Spirit and has sent you to bring the Gospel to those who are brokenhearted over their sin. He has sent you to declare freedom and forgiveness to those held captive by the devil to do his will. He has sent you to those who are prisoners of sin, spiritual blindness and spiritual death; to proclaim Jesus: the salvation of the LORD.

Ramadan_Post_PhotoThe Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me, because the LORD has anointed me to bring good news to the afflicted; he has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to captives, and freedom to prisoners; to proclaim the favorable year of the LORD. Isaiah 61:1-2

Related post: Mosque.  See also: Contextualization.

Mosque, Pt.3

After the Islamic call to prayer which signaled the end of the fast, we went up to the third floor to observe the prayer. I was surprised that most of the people stayed downstairs, chatting with friends and networking, and only a few dozen of us guests went up to observe. Perhaps they were already familiar with the Muslim rituals.

Upstairs, we took off our shoes and went through the proper doors for men and women. The doors led into the same large common room (most of the floor) and I stood silently along the back wall next to the windows with the other guests. (No I did not cover my head.)

There were about 50 men in front of the room, and way in the back and off to the sides near me, were the women. The prayer ritual lasted only 10 minutes or so. There were people who very likely did not have a Muslim background who were participating as well.

I noticed the women near me, bowing in prayer on the floor. These were the ones the Lord sent us to visit with. After the prayer was finished, guests started filing out and the Muslim ladies caught our eyes: we all smiled and said hi to each other. We (my group) went up to them and started chatting. Soon they invited us to join them for the dinner! The men in our group chatted with them a few minutes and they excused themselves to go downstairs to talk to people there.

We all went down to get our food. Standing in line for the buffet, we learned about our hosts. One lady was from Yemen and only knew Arabic, and the others were from Pakistan and spoke Urdu. There was a mother and her 12 year old daughter who just moved here a year ago. The mother does not know English yet, but her daughter is already fluent. The girl is one of ten children! Then there was the aunt who has been here 20 years and also speaks English. Between this lady and the girl, we were all able to have a wonderful conversation.

We got our Indian style food and went back upstairs to sit on the floor around a cloth that was our table. It was so nice because it was quiet up there compared to the banquet hall. We all sat around the “table” on the floor eating. We all talked about our families. My daughter was thrilled there was a 12 year old girl there. She loved her pretty Pakistani clothes. I brought a picture of my whole family and showed it to everyone. We talked about Muslim customs and traditions. I was expecting to just chit chat about ordinary things only, but then my hostess brought up spiritual things. She asked me what I believe, so I told her I worship the God of Jacob. I said I am a follower of Yeshua, and that I believe that Yeshua is He (God).

After a minute or so, I asked her a few questions. I asked the questions from this witnessing example given my John MacArthur. In Islam, are there sins? She answered yes and I asked how God feels about those sins. She said there would be judgment. I asked her what then can a person do then to be right with God? She went on to tell me how in Islam there are many good works one can do, the five pillars of Islam, giving to charity, praying and trying to be a good person. She said something about feeling bad about sins and trying hard to do good. She said something about God knowing their hearts; their good intentions. She said that even though they do all these things, they do not know if they will go to heaven. She said they must try, and hope to be forgiven.

She then asked me if I was once in another religion and then changed. Surprised, I answered yes and I went on to tell the story of my testimony. Her question was amazing because my testimony is about me trying, through good works and religious works, (just like her) to earn God’s favor, until God revealed His grace to me through Jesus. I also mentioned that all the prophets spoke of Him (Jesus), and forgiveness is based on what He did for us. I tried to emphasize the goodness and kindness of God, in providing for our forgiveness Himself.

After this we all went down to get dessert and tea, and we brought it back up and sat down together again. Our Muslim hostess then asked the other Christian woman from our group that was with us, to tell about her beliefs, and she did. She spoke of a personal relationship with God through Jesus. When it was time to go, our new friends told us we were welcome to come back again anytime. It was a wonderful time. Although most of the guests were there for interfaith networking, God had planned our dinner conversation with these Muslim ladies to be about Jesus. Ramadan is a good time to share the grace of God through Jesus to Muslims, because many are thinking more about how they can have their sins forgiven.

For a wonderful source of encouragement and creative ideas for doing gospel missions among Muslims, (right where you live) I recommend Tales of Persia; Missionary Stories from Islamic Iran, by William Miller.

Mosque, Pt.1

What a fantastic opportunity to join a group of believers for a cross-cultural adventure. We attended an “open house” at a San Francisco mosque, for the ‘break the fast’ dinner. But it was the part before the Muslim ‘call to prayer’ and dinner, that I did not expect.

Upstairs on the social hall floor, we sat at banquet tables with a few hundred other guests and listened to several speakers. I was expecting Muslim leaders to tell us all about Islam and Ramadan. I grew sick as I slowly realized that I was attending an interfaith meeting! There were brochures on the table published by an interfaith group, explaining how all the monotheistic religions are basically one. One by one, Muslims and non Muslims got up and gave speeches promoting interfaith cooperation, and the urgent global necessity for us to all come together to achieve world peace and save humanity.

There were many baby boomers who had a Jewish, Catholic or cultural Christian background, who had converted to Islam. There were many Roman Catholic priests and nuns, especially the Franciscans, the order of the Catholic church I grew up in. There were people from different religions- but most of them were classic mystical New Spirituality creation worshipers.

At our table were two ladies that I think were probably either Catholic or Episcopalian, and one man described his own cult religion which gave me chills. He had a “sacred space” called Abraham’s Place (or something) where Jews, Muslims and Christians came to worship together as one. The man looked and sounded “affected by something”. I was not sure if we were going to be at that table all evening, but I knew that God did not want me to say a single word there, about the precious things of the Lord, to this particular group of people. He wanted me to keep my Pearls to myself at this time.