The first in a five-part series by Joy L*
‘Oh, Lord, I cannot do that!’ I tried to explain to God as I knelt by my bed.
I was about forty years old when I sensed the Holy Spirit suggesting that I remove my make-up and my jewellery, except my wedding rings. I was not much into fashion, but the modest make-up and jewellery I wore had been part of me for quite a few years. I looked very unfashionable in comparison to Muslim women at their parties all decked up with their expensive lustrous gold bracelets and necklaces purchased in the Middle East. Now they would think I was unattractive and they would be embarrassed to associate with plain me. So I presumed, but God was testing me. I was determined to pay any price to bring the gospel to Muslim women, but, really, it was going too far to ask that of me. ‘Well, try it, my child, and just see what a difference it will make,’ I heard God saying.
By this time, I was sweating it out with God. ‘What will my husband think? What will others think? I will be a prude. I will not look young and attractive anymore. Besides, there is nothing sinful about wearing make-up and jewellery…’ And so on, went the internal struggle. Then submission flooded my soul. I got up, put away my make-up and jewellery and waited to see what would happen. That was about seventeen years ago. That step of obedience was the turning point of effectiveness in my ministry among Muslims. The biggest surprise came from the reaction of Muslim men. I now had more open doors to their wives. I discovered that a Muslim man sometimes is afraid a Western woman will corrupt his wife. We are often seen as Hollywood seductresses, all out to lure and capture men. Suddenly, as if almost overnight, both Muslim men and women saw me as a ‘religious’ woman. Muslims feel safe among religious women. Doors opened for me like never before. Presentations of the gospel no longer came with mixed messages. I was amazed. Something very important had taken place, which I could not quite identify. Slowly I realised that in the eyes of Muslims, I was ‘set apart’ for religious purposes.
* Joy has spent more than thirty years ministering to Muslims in the East and the West and shares further insights on her personal blog.
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