Creating community, one visit at a time
May 2021
By a former missionary in the Middle East — We said our lengthy goodbyes and piled into three vehicles as I called out, “Who’s next?” A lively discussion ensued about who lived closer and who should be visited next.

Our whole hospital staff was making Eid visits, traveling from staff member house to staff member house, until all had been seen. It was exhausting and I drank more tea and ate more cookies in that 12-hour period than all the rest of the year, or at least until the next Eid arrived.   

As you might expect, this caravan of visitors had a story behind it. 

Early after arriving in our host city, in an attempt to learn more about the Islamic culture and our colleagues’ lives, my family and I paid visits to several of our hospital co-workers during one of their Eids, or festivals. When word got around (and word always got around) that we had visited some (but not all) staff members, we were told that we had offended the people whose houses we had not visited.  

To remedy this difficult situation, we promised to visit them during the next Eid. True to our promise, during the next Eid we visited the previously disappointed people. We thought the matter was settled, only to be told that the people we had visited the first Eid, but not the second Eid, complained that we had shamed them! “We waited all day for you and you never came,” they said. 

Over 30 people worked at the hospital; there was no way our family with young children could visit them all in a short time. What to do? 

After talking it over with some local friends, we decided that I, not the whole family, would go with the staff and try to visit everyone, altogether. Everyone arrived early in the morning of the designated day and I said, “OK, let’s go!” 

“Oh no,” several people said. “It is too early to go visiting now. Sit down and let’s have a cup of tea before we go visiting!” 

I was chaffing to get out there and start crossing names off the list. It was a long list! But I finally realized, “I am visiting now. I am deepening friendships, even as I wait to ‘begin visiting.’” 

I learned a lesson that day that I have seen time and time again: Community and time spent just being together is very important to our Muslim friends and colleagues.

As we seek to interact with Muslims and share the love and light of Christ, let’s be thinking of ways that we can bring them into our communities. Especially for new immigrants who have no extended families around and few to no friends nearby, can we try to become community for them? Most Muslims come from very relationship-oriented societies; they are comfortable hanging out without a lot of structure.    

We are nearing the end of Ramadan, which will be followed by Eid al-Fitr, several days of celebration that the fast is over. If you have been limited in visiting your Muslim neighbors and colleagues, then this is a great time to drop in and say hello.    

You could ask about fasting and what it means to them, or about the Night of Power. This night marks one of the most significant times in the whole Islamic calendar, when prayers offered at the mosque are considered most likely to be answered. Tradition leans on it being on the 27th night of Ramadan (either May 8 or 9, depending on when they started). Some Muslims will go to the mosque and stay up all night praying. You can mention that you believe that God hears our prayers day and night and that no day or time is more appropriate to pray than the current moment. Ask if they have anything that you can pray with them about, and then take the time right then to pray. Be sure to keep praying and try to follow up with them about the request later that week or the next. 

Praying for the Muslim world 
  • 10/ 10 Prayer Initiative: Pray for 10 percent of the Muslim world to come to Christ in the next 10 years. This prayer initiative started in 2018, and we are seeking God’s mercy and grace for the 1.8 billion Muslims who are living in fear and darkness. SEND International has committed to participating in this initiative by asking people to consider praying and fasting the first Friday of each month for the Lord of the Harvest to draw many to himself. Feel free to join in and pray for those you know and have contact with and/or use the 10/10 prayer guide found on the 10/10 website
  • Pray for SEND workers in Muslim countries during Ramadan, as it can be a tricky time to try to connect with people who are fasting all day and don’t have much energy. For the second year, COVID restrictions have added more complications.
  • Pray for India as it is in the grip of a massive COVID outbreak. By 2050, India is estimated to be the country with the largest number of Muslims worldwide, and yet they will be a minority under the majority Hindus. Pray for the church in India to reach out and share God’s light and truth in the midst of the persecution that they receive from both Muslims and Hindus.

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