Working among Muslim Arabs in the Middle East, much of my time is spent trying to find bridges to the gospel that my Muslim friends will understand. I read books, talk with other missionaries around the Muslim world, strategize, plan, translate stories and work tirelessly for the goal of Muslims coming to Jesus. For a decade this has been my life. And I love it.
I never expected the Western Christian subculture of fifteen years ago to infiltrate my Middle Eastern life.
Let me set the stage.
It’s crazy hot outside, but I wear my very conservative, bum-covering clothes with a scarf around my neck. I walk into a women’s clothing shop where I’ve developed a friendship with the three women who work there. They all wear the traditional hijab (head scarf) and modest clothing. We chat about life over syrupy tea while I prayerfully seek ways to bring Jesus into the conversation.
This particular afternoon proved very difficult. They didn’t want to hear the stories I so painstakingly memorized in Arabic that showed our need for a Savior. They wanted to just feed me gross, rotten, raw, slimy fish and watch my face as I gagged it down. I was not amused.
But in the middle of my prayer asking God to make the nasty fish taste like chocolate, I saw it—a brightly colored bracelet on the wrist of my Muslim friend.
Arabs generally love all things brightly colored, so that didn’t surprise me. What did surprise me was the English letters on it. My friend doesn’t speak English and had no idea what it said. She just liked the bright pink color.
The bracelet said “W.W.J.D.”
I was stunned. Images of my high school days flashed before my eyes. My entire youth group wore those—ages ago. It was nearly a cultish mantra. It definitely became a way of labeling those who truly followed Jesus and those who were just “casual” Christians.
And here in the middle of a weird women’s clothing store in a creepy mall by my apartment, a Muslim woman was wearing a bright pink W.W.J.D. bracelet.
And she had no idea what it meant! I stood there stunned for a moment as my friend stared at me questioningly. Then I tried to explain what it meant in very awkward, very stilted Arabic. I’ve never had to explain W.W.J.D. to a Muslim before—I wasn’t even good at explaining the W.W.J.D. bracelet to Americans in high school!
She didn’t completely understand it all, but it was a start. So that’s something.
So thank you, strange American Christian subculture. Today your weird ways paved the way for my friend to hear the gospel.