God’s story isn’t forced; if you have a relationship with Jesus,
he is living out his story through you.
– Jay Pathak and Dave Runyon in The Art of Neighboring
A new house was going up across the sand lot from ours. The family of 15 hadn’t moved in yet, but a flurry of activity brought aunts, uncles, and cousins to check their new home’s progress, the kids marking their territory and choosing which rooms they would share.
Since it’s hot in the desert, I greeted them with water and a freshly-baked cake. They were thrilled to learn they had friendly neighbors, as an Arabic proverb says “aj-jar qabal ad-dar,” or essentially, consider the neighbors when you choose a new home.
In reciprocal hospitality, they invited me to attend a family party the following day. I arrived laden with gifts, and spent some time talking with the other ladies. It turned out I was seated next to the local muhafatha, or holy woman. In a conservative Islamic culture where men and women are nearly always separated, she was the one who teaches women the Qur’an in the mosque.
She asked immediately if I wanted to become a Muslim. As we delved into topics of faith, I could tell many others were eavesdropping. Like many Muslims, she thought we believe in three gods because of our Trinity doctrine. I assured her we only believe in one God. We talked about other things, but perhaps the most important thing I shared with her is why I will always remain a follower of Christ: because Isa yafidanee: He has redeemed me from my sin and saved me. Our greatest difference is our belief in our need for salvation.
After the meal, as I went around to say my goodbyes, one of my new neighbors said to me, intee hiteera: you are dangerous. Understandable. Here I was, sharing the Gospel, in Arabic, to a muhafatha, an Islamic leader. I didn’t share in a foreign, Western way, but intentionally, in a way she and all the ladies in this group could understand. Perhaps for the first time, they heard what Jesus did for them in their own language.
Perhaps I am dangerous. I share boldly because I believe it’s a risk worth taking. I may face rejection in my relationships, but it is worth the price if seeds of Truth are scattered so that all may hear.
Anna Parsons* is a Live Dead missionary in the Arabian Peninsula.