The fourth in a five-part series by Joy L*
‘Why don’t the women respond more to the red page depicting the cross in the Wordless Book**?’
I lamented to my husband. ‘Perhaps,’ he replied, ‘it’s because they don’t understand the black page depicting sin well enough.’
Could it be? I did talk about sin but I really had always wanted them to understand the blood of Jesus shed on the cross.
A spiritual battle
It was my turn to share the gospel on the women’s ward of the mission hospital in the Islamic nation where we were serving. I decided I would try to explain sin more clearly. My legs began to weaken and I got very nervous. As I stood before about seventy-five patients and relatives, something ominous was happening. I was shocked to find that there was no black page to explain sin. I asked others to try to find it but they couldn’t either. Eeriness settled in. I put the book down in front of me for a few seconds and then went to pick it up and it was gone. No one had moved it. So I looked for something black to use as an object lesson.
As soon as I was done, my eyes saw the book lying where I had put it down. Still no black page. I was shaken as I returned home. I fell into a chair strangely exhausted, holding the book in my hand. As I opened it, the black page fell open and I heard inaudible demonic laughing. That day will never be forgotten because I learned a very important lesson. If we want women to understand and appreciate the value of the cross, they must hear a clear explanation about sin.
The turning point
It has taken me a long time to learn how to explain sin to Muslim women. There is little comprehension about the holiness of God in Islam. Almost every sin of their own can be justified as being legitimate. Someone else’s sin is a different matter. I have found that if a Muslim woman does not get a clear understanding and conviction of her sin, and yet accepts Christ, she will most likely fall away with time.
A turning point in seeing Muslim women begin to grasp an understanding of sin came when, after giving doctrinal explanations of sin that seemed to fall on deaf ears, I began to share stories of sin and shame in my own life. Initially I was reluctant to share such information, largely because I was afraid they would not want to associate with me, or might spread what I shared so that doors would even close to me as a result.
I was amazed to realise that deep down I really wanted to leave a good impression.
Hesitantly I began to share my own stories. Suddenly, Muslim women could relate to some of the things evidenced in my sinful nature or even a sinful stronghold where I had needed deliverance or mistakes I had made. The good news was that I could move on to declaring a Saviour – His saving and transforming power, forgiveness and grace. Especially powerful has been the mention of my own sins of lying, cheating, jealousy, hatred, anger, desires for revenge, a family line of occultic involvement, hypocrisy and rebelliousness. I also share our family mistakes in raising our children. All too often, we leave the impression that we are good. Since they want to project the same image, the issue of sin, so important in understanding the cross, is left untouched or not understood. My Tunisian friend understood sin very clearly and came under conviction. Even though she has had her share of trials and testings and even been weakened by them momentarily, one thing she knows is that she has a Saviour who died for her sin. Now the cross looms large for her.
*Joy has spent more than thirty years ministering to Muslims in the East and the West and shares further insights on her personal blog.
**The Wordless Book refers to a short booklet that outlines the gospel using symbols and images.
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