The final part of a series by Joy L*
Mum and Dad had just died. Their deaths were awe-inspiring because they were ready to meet Jesus in heaven. Many of my Muslim friends came and shared heart-felt condolences, which they are so gifted in doing. Some prepared wonderful meals to honour me. How precious these women have become! They went far beyond sending a sympathy card or having flowers delivered. They cried and sat with me. But one thing they could not do was bring hope in my bereavement.
The very mention of death terrifies the average Muslim woman. Tala** created a beautiful homemade sympathy card for me but she left a blank where the word death should be inserted. She could not bring herself to write the fearful word. Because my heart was so full of emotion after the deaths of my parents, words came tumbling out. As I spoke about our beautiful heaven, I watched the women in amazement. Their reactions seemed to say, ‘Tell me more’. And I did.
The words in Revelation 21:3-4 and 22:3-5 about heaven capture the women’s hearts without fail. This has proven to be one of the best ways to get a spiritual conversation going. For example, Aswad’s** full-term baby boy was born dead and her grief was beyond bearing. She did not have a Bible in her language. But I had her read verses on heaven from Revelation and she could not stop reading.
Then she responded, ‘We believe when a baby dies, he will bring us fruit in hell.’
I could not believe it. She had already destined herself to hell and was at least comforting herself that her baby would come and bring her fruit. I explained that Jesus could take both her and her baby to heaven. She wanted so badly to believe that but dejectedly repeated, ‘Well, we believe…’
More than ever, I was determined from that point on to keep talking about heaven. Many Muslim women admit to fasting and praying for the departed soul of their loved one to reach heaven. There seems to be an underlying belief among many that prayers and sacrificial fasting will lead to a safe arrival, and perhaps even influence Allah. There is also hope that this religious devotion will be merited. I like to respond by using powerful verses of Scripture to affirm that the crucified and risen Jesus is the One who can safely bring us to heaven, the longing of every Muslim woman’s heart.
In conclusion, I discovered that applying my convictions about my calling, Scripture, prayer, sin and heaven, significantly shaped me into a more effective witness to Muslims.
Some of these lessons, were fleshed out once again when Manal**, my North African sister, surrendered her life to Jesus. She was baptised and moved in with us for loving care, safety and in-depth discipleship. Her most apparent spiritual growth took place after I shared my own journey of dealing with sin and finding God’s deliverance and grace.
* Joy has spent more than thirty years ministering to Muslims in the East and the West and shares further insights on her personal blog.
**Names have been changed to protect identities.
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