I count it as one of the most privileged opportunities God has ever given me. She was my age, 32, and dying of cervical cancer. But, she was a fighter. She persevered through radiation treatments, nausea, pain, and weakness.
I walked with her through the last six months of her life. She was the matriarch of her family of multiple sisters and one son. They followed her to a new home from a nearby war-torn country. She cared for all of them as she worked hard in several jobs.
At glance, you might think she was dangerous. Some might label her: Muslim or terrorist. But, you would not know that she was involved in translating the Bible into her native language. You would not know that she was a regular member of the Christian fellowship of other believers from her country. You would not guess that she was a strong believer in Jesus Christ. You would not know that she longed for the rest of her family to also know peace that she found in Christ.
Over the past six years, God has given me the privilege of knowing and befriending families, women, and children who are from a community that most in the world would label as terrorists. And yes, there are terrorists from their community of origin. Yet, I have come to realize the terrorists in this group are the minority. Did you know that only 3% of the Muslim population in the world is fundamentalist? This 3% translates into 48 million people. Although this is a significant number, 97% of the Muslims who you see on a daily basis do not practice violence in their religion.
In these days of Muslim terrorists, how do we as ones who follow Jesus respond to the veiled people that we meet on the streets, in our neighborhoods, our work places, and in our schools? What is your first response? Our Lord’s instruction to the nation of Israel gives us a glimpse into how He would like to mold our hearts:
“You shall treat the stranger who sojourns with you as the native among you, and you shall love him as yourself, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt: I am the Lord your God.” (Leviticus 19:34)
What do you “see” when you see someone who is veiled? What do you “feel” when you hear the label, Muslim? Fear, Anger, Differences, Foreigner, Stranger? These are legitimate feelings and thoughts. Yet, I challenge you to go beyond your own feelings and labels. Because there is more—oh so much more—that you are missing.
God is bringing thousands of Muslims to us who long for friendships, who long to know God, who long to raise their children in the “right” way, who long for joy, who long for peace. Be willing to go beyond your own perceptions to enter beyond their veils and discover who they really are as people in need of a Savior, just like you and me.
Knowing and befriending Muslims has enriched my life beyond my expectations! I have been welcomed and loved in homes of families that share their history, family stories, nationalities, new life, death, sufferings, and hopes with me. I have seen the love and commitment of these families to one another as they provide and care for each other in their sufferings. I’ve had a front-row seat to watch my Muslim friend wrestle with the gospel over many years and then be pursued to faith and inclusion in the Kingdom by her loving Father and her Savior, Jesus.
And, I had the privilege of walking with my sister with cervical cancer through the shadow of death as she entered into the presence of her Savior. I was given the privilege of sharing the gospel with her sisters, praying in her home with her strict Muslim mother, and then celebrating her life as we honored Jesus at her funeral with her siblings watching the local church care for them as a family.
There is truly no limit to what God can do if you are willing to go beyond. The Kingdom includes sinners, including former Muslims, terrorists, and the stranger. Don’t limit God by your perceptions. Go beyond and watch your Father enlarge your joy and understanding of His glory!
>> Serge workers are in Muslim-majority countries engaged in a variety of work including starting small businesses to provide jobs and demonstrate the gospel of Jesus Christ. Give a gift to support Serge’s Business for Transformation work here.