Talking about truth

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Two of our workers who live in a creative access nation talk about what life was like for them during the month of Ramadan, and the impact it had on opportunities to talk about about the gospel.

Flipped upside down

Ramadan is a unique month as people fast during all daylight hours from dawn to sunset. Routines are generally flipped upside down as the night-life is dominated by enjoying food (a big social event), and much of the morning is spent sleeping after the late nights. Shops don’t open until later, coffee houses stay closed until dusk and then open until 1 or 2am, and people go out to see friends at 11pm. For those of us not fasting but living in a country where the majority are, we need to be flexible if we want to connect with our friends and be ready to answer their questions.

Exploring truth

Believers scattered

Families in our line of work are often ‘on the move’. It may be returning to our sending country every few years to share with local bodies what God has been doing where we live, travelling to meet up with family so that grandchildren know their grandparents, commuting to school (which could be a neighbouring city or several countries away), business meetings, or just moving house yet again. Our family is no exception to this norm, and so we find ourselves about to move city in the next year.

Over the last two years, the Father has laid on our hearts another area of the country in which we currently serve, where there is very little Christian witness. With over one million people living in that province, there are roughly ten known local believers who are scattered and rarely meet with other believers. Imagine the entire population of Birmingham, with less than ten believers who are afraid to tell anyone about their faith. And since there are very few workers in the whole area, the need is great! 

Our desire is to see a thriving, God-centred, word-focused, unified, multiplying body of Christ, boldly reaching out to their communities in that part of North Africa. Please pray for us as we transition our family to this new city, and that he would be preparing hearts of new teammates to come and serve with us.

Every Muslim household begins their evening with fatoor (the breaking of the fast meal), which will often be shared with friends. This is a delicious meal of dates, tea, soup and an assortment of local sweets and pastries. It speaks of the generosity and hospitality of this culture that they will regularly invite foreigners to join them for fatoor. Although it means a later bedtime than usual for our children and eating late into the night, these fatoor invites are a great opportunity to get to know people and deepen friendships. As people relax in their homes with family and feel nourished after being able to eat and drink, they are often willing to explore issues of truth.

Repeatedly during Ramadan you are asked “Are you fasting?”. It’s a loaded question and can be an evaluation as to whether we have converted to Islam. However, we find that when asked by those who know us, the question is an effort to explore more about our beliefs and practices. One of the pillars of Islam, this month of fasting is an outward expression of what they believe, and they are curious about how we express our faith. A response of “Yes, I do fast, but not in the same way as you do” can open a door to conversations about a personal relationship with the Father, a desire to hear his voice when making important decisions, and thankfulness that he sees our hearts and not just our outwards actions.

The true bread

The difference in routine can make this month challenging; people are impatient, and driving becomes more daring with a lack of attention. However, if we can look past the outward effects of hunger, thirst and tiredness, we can see much evidence that people are thirsty for truth but looking for it in the wrong place. Pray that God would continue to use the generosity and questions of these people to lead them to himself, the true bread of life and living water.

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