May you be well every year!
(Roughly translated holiday greeting)
Observations and opportunities from one of our team members
It’s been a couple of weeks since the fasting month started - Ramadan. For those of you who don’t know, it is the 40 days when Muslims abstain from food, drink, sex, and sometimes smoking during the daylight hours and then eat and drink and party during the night. I have lived through many of these months and I can’t honestly say it’s the most wonderful time of the year… People are cranky because they’re hungry and traffic is terrible because everyone has to go to the same places at the same time and there are more accidents on the street because no one gets any sleep this month and driving skills get EVEN worse. But there are many positive things about this month. I get invited to lots of people’s houses for some great food and there are lots of new soap operas on TV. They play 24-7 and people are glued to the TV, passing the time until they can eat. I am currently watching an exciting program that is set in Syria in the French colonial times. Apparently, the Syrians are known for the quality of their soap operas. The one I have decided to make sure to watch is the most popular. At 9.00pm every night, our living room is packed with neighbors who don’t have satellite TV as we wait to see if Um Esam’s busybody neighbor will put trash in front of her door again or if the evil spy masquerading as a blind beggar will kill someone else…
...It has been great for my language anyway.
But the most important part of this month is the fact that people are pushing themselves as hard as possible to do good things. They give to the poor and read their holy books and stop doing evil things like wearing make-up and plucking their eyebrows. Opportunities to share the free love of Christ that we can never earn by our own abilities are everywhere.
A couple of weeks ago I gave a Book to a friend I met at the gym. She promised to read it, although when I visited her Monday, she said she hadn’t gotten around to it (she does have 6 kids, the youngest 2 are adorable but energetic twins). I was disappointed because she had seemed really interested when I gave her the Book, and she was the one who brought up the subject that led to me give her that gift. But I did get a chance to share again in front of her, her two oldest daughters, and her neighbor. They listened very carefully and seemed interested.
I later got a chance to go back to this house and break fast and spend the night with them – her husband was out of town. We broke fast together and then watched TV and talked and ate all night. We went to bed at about 2 and got up at 4.30 to eat. It was fun to be a part of that experience, and while I don’t really want to do it again, I’m off to another friend’s house tonight for the same exciting experience. I’m looking forward to someday when I will get to sleep…
The best part of the night was that M agreed to meet with me once a week to read the Book together and do a language exchange. After we had a long and mostly uncomfortable conversation about JC, I was a little concerned that she wouldn’t want to do that, but she seems excited to meet with me. Now she has heard the whole story twice from me, and I pray that she’ll keep thinking about it.
During this month, please pr that God will work in the hearts of Ms all over the world. Pr that He will send dreams and visions. Pr that He will speak to the hearts of people so that they will see how futile all of their works are. Pr that people will be really begin to seek God during this time. What a powerful God we serve!