House Visits: A Muslim family

For the last week, a group from our church has been visiting less-privileged families in the neighborhood and delivering both a carton of food and the message of the Gospel. It is amazing how bringing gifts opens a space for Pastor Bishara to speak very clearly and at length about sin, redemption, and salvation. Often, we have a chance after he speaks to sing a few hymns and pray with the family we are visiting.

Wednesday night, we decided to visit the first Muslim family on our list. After a few wrong turns we ended up in the right area of the village, but we had no idea exactly which house. All we knew was the name of the wife. (A little background information: in our village, street names and addresses are not used. Instead, houses are described by naming the closest stores and most well known families in the area around the house).

We did not want to stop and ask anyone for directions to the house, for earlier that same day, another one of the Muslim families we had planned to visit called and asked us not to come. Why? They were afraid that if their extended family found out that a group from the church had visited, they might kill them.

Unsure of what to do next, we parked the car and prayed for God’s guidance. Eventually, the women in our group decided to go out and ask for the house, since they felt it would be less suspicious for women to be interested in visiting each other. Rachel* ran across someone she knew, and he guided us to the house.

The women entered the house first, and they immediately felt joy bubbling up inside them. We delivered our humble gift, then they invited us to sit and chat. The wife was very welcoming, and she began pouring us cups of Coca Cola. Their son was watching television, and the husband had just come home from work.

After a few minutes of getting to know each other, Bishara started by talking about the meaning of Christmas and the message of love. They agreed that we should love all, not just our own family or people of our own religion. Bishara read the Beatitudes to them, then read Jesus’ teachings on revenge and on loving our enemies. They agreed wholeheartedly.

Margaret* mentioned how when we understand how merciful God is toward us, we can have mercy on others. The husband responded by saying how God is so merciful that he blots away a thousand sins when we do one good thing (a common Muslim teaching).

At this point, Bishara felt that he needed to speak more clearly. He asked them if they had heard the message of the Gospel. They looked puzzled, but open to the idea, so he continued.

He explained that mankind in his nature is sinful, and that because of this we need a sacrifice on our behalf. He explained that God taught the Jewish people to sacrifice animals in the past, and even Muslims today sacrifice an animal on one of their holidays.

“Like Abraham,” said the husband, “When he was going to sacrifice his son…”

“Exactly,” said Bishara. He further explained that just as God promised Abraham that there would be a “Great Sacrifice,” so Jesus came to be that great sacrifice for mankind. The great sacrifice could not possibly be an animal, for animals are not pure and clean. We need a perfect sacrifice to take away our sin. Another sinner cannot atone for our sin. God could not find one man on earth clean enough to pay for the sin of another, so he sent Jesus to be the Great Sacrifice.

It was clear they understood the concept of the message. The idea of sacrifice is not a new one to them. May God open their hearts to accept that only through faith in Jesus can they be redeemed, and not through good works.

We stood and prayed after Bishara finished speaking. As Bishara prayed a simple prayer for God to bless the house and the children, the wife cried and trembled while Rachel held her in a loving embrace.

The next day, the wife brought her children to  a Christmas party we held at the church, and she smiled and clapped as we sang about Jesus and explained the message of Christ’s birth.

*names changed to protect those involved

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