This is the spirit of Ramadan

We decided to try something new this year with a short term team. Instead of doing a prayer walk through the village in the morning, as is our custom, we chose to go instead in the evening, close to the time of the breaking of the Ramadan fast.

We weren’t completely sure how it would go, though we hoped that we would be invited in to homes after the families finished eating the meal.

As the sun went down, the streets began to fill up with people heading home to eat. As we passed one teenager, I could hear him saying on his cell phone, “Come quickly there are foreigners in the neighborhood!” He assumed, of course, that I could not understand him. A few seconds later, his friend roared past us on an off-road quad, then slowed to a halt and waited for us to walk by, while pretending to ignore us.

Once the call to prayer began and the day of fasting ended, however, the streets became quite empty. The village is actually bigger than I had thought, and the road continuing winding for a long time before we felt it was time to turn around. As we did so, we heard a voice yelling at us in English.

As we approached, we realized that the voice belonged to a woman, and that she and another woman were motioning excitedly to us. They had seen us pass by and had wanted us to join them for the meal, but we hadn’t heard them shouting until we turned around.

We entered the courtyard and they set a fresh table for us with food, saying repeatedly “This is the spirit of Ramadan!” as they served us an assortment of delicious Arabic foods.

L* spoke the most English, and she was very excited to talk to our group, which was composed of mostly ladies. She told us them how she loves America and wants to move there as soon as she can figure out how.

We learned that the house L had invited us into is not in fact her house! Instead, it is the home of one of her closest childhood friends, a single woman who owns a beauty salon and just began wearing a head covering six months ago (so she informed us). L actually lives about a 30 minute drive away, in another village.

After clearing away the food, they brought out coffee, so we sat and began sipping coffee, while the rest of the family watched us and asked occasional questions. Another coffee pot appeared soon thereafter, and as soon as we finished our first cup a second cup was offered.

L* shared with the ladies in our group that she is concerned about a situation with her job. They offered to pray for her about this subject. Then they stood in a circle, like a group of athletes in a huddle before a sports match, and prayed. One of the other ladies watching asked me, “They pray standing up?” It was unusual to her, of course, for Muslim prayers focus on the positions of the body, with special emphasis on bowing down to God externally.

After they prayed for her, they offered her a New Testament, which she took. Then her friend (the beauty salon owner) grabbed some of the ladies from our group and took them quickly downstairs, privately asking them to pray with her that she might find a husband.

Saying goodbye took several minutes, as all the ladies exchanged multiple hugs and promised to stay in touch. L* even said that she would be interested in visiting the church sometime soon. Please pray that she will follow through on this, and that through this encounter with these foreigners, she and her friend will find God.

*name withheld to protect the identities of those involved

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