Ramadan 2011- A Christians Perspective
Today marks the beginning of Ramadan. I have been thinking and Praying about what to write about this for a couple of weeks. My intention was to write about what this month means to Islam, what the Qur’an, the Hadith, and the Reliance of The Traveler say about it, but mostly what it means to Christians or Jews who have to live in predominately Muslim countries. I received an email from an organization I belong to. They have a young lady, a Christian, who lives in Pakistan. She writes a blog for this organization under a fictional name for her safety. The names aren’t real, but everything else is.
Her blog entry touched my heart so much I felt led to post it to mark the beginning of Ramadan instead of my words. Before I copy and paste it, let me just say this is a very, very difficult time for Christians or Jews who live in Muslim Majority countries. They always need our Prayers and support, but they need them even more during Ramadan! Please make sure you Pray for them often.
That which is of lasting value
Posted on 07/31/2011 12:00 AM A mother goes to the shops to buy gram flour and vegies, lots of flour, mutton, chicken, yogurt and supplies to stuff her fridge with all kinds of yummies for the month of Ramadhan ahead. It starts now across the Muslim world. Another mother, purchases enough that will not spoil in this heat because her street has power cut after power and there is no way to keep it without it spoiling. It is horribly hot. I do feel for my Muslim friends who have to fast, albeit from sunrise to sunset and albeit sandwiched between to crazily large meals. The heat, the dehydration from not drinking a tumbler of water ever hour- it can take its toll on people who are not fasting! Ramadhan is the holy month of fasting in the Islamic Calendar. Tensions run high at the best of time but the summer is the worst.
While mother work hard to keep their families cared for, men work in warm humid office where there are regular power outages, the low whirr of the fan makes them sleepy, they cant have a strong cup of truck driver tea to keep them and before you know it there are fights, arguments and tensions running high. Kids are off school thankfully. College is closed too. I nearly took a long drink out of my bottle while stuck in a traffic jam and realised every eye around me had turned to look as though they wanted either to kill me or snatch the water and drink it. The cross in the front of my car identified me so .... need I say more?
While Ramadhan, a holy month of spiritual growth and pleasing Allah begins for most Muslims, others are celebrating it by strapping ammunition on themselves or exploding bus fulls of people. While some seek to please Allah and carve a way into eternity by their fasting, others try to dynamite their way into heaven. There is no humour in what I say.
Two 13 year olds were sharing 'Suicide bomber jokes' after Church! I was horrified. Have we become so immune to all that is going on around us.
I feel so alone sometimes. I have lost so many friends. Just a few days ago another family left without saying a word to any of us. We just happened to find a padlock on their house and heard they claimed asylum in another country. Another young girl ran away with a Muslim boy who promised her her parents debts would be paid off and we have no idea where she went. Other friends have been married. I feel alone. No one seems to want to love Pakistan any more. I know enough who do, but there are so many who spit out the word 'Pakistan' and it evidence that their prayers are directed toward a plane fare and a visa. I dont blame them. Fine leave - but dont forget your land- dont forget Pakistan and those who are stuck here.
Leave if God tells you leave. I think a time is coming when we will have to re think our opinions and ideas about who belongs where. But this I know that there will be many for whom it wont be about opinions, but about reality. They wont have time for opinions, but for decisions. The deicison to love their neighbour with the love of Christ and suffer for it, or the decision to give up on their faith and on Jesus, become like the people around them, lose eternity but keep their daughter's from rape and abuse, their sons from torture and their homes from burning. We need to spend less time working out our stand and our opinion and getting our policy right. There is only one truth I want to remind you of today - your brothers and sisters are suffering for their faith - pray they stay close to Jesus- NOTHING ELSE IS IMPORTANT- except that which is of eternal value - the souls of brethren livin
My heart breaks for these people. I can’t imagine what it must be like. I am going to post a couple more journal entries from her:
May we be a fragrance before the Throne of the Father
We must remember Jesus
Posted on 07/04/2011 12:00 AM -- I feel sometimes like Ezra and sometimes like Jeremiah. I lament for this land and my people who have been seduced into thinking we can make it better in our own strength. Our prioroties shifted at some time. At some point it became more important for us to keep our children safe than to take them to Church to be part of the body of Christ. At some stage the fear of dying in a burning Church became greater for some. At some point the pressure of persecution at work became so great that it pushed a loving faithful husband to perform better at work, to become more ambitious and to prove to the world he is as good as any Muslim. At some point it became more important to get A's and prove that Christian kids are smart and can become doctors. At some point it became more important to prove that a Christian woman has rights unlike a Muslim woman and can stand up to her husband and at some point that crossed the 'grace line' and the 'faith line'.
The status quo has turned upside down and I am not sure when that was, but I know we tried to adapt and evolve for our children. At some point even among the poor, the pressure to keep jobs and the fear of the blasphemy law became so great that we allowed a noose to be put over our heads. Men fell into relationships that are against the Lord because of a threat that there would be a false accusation against them for blasphemy. Marriages are breaking because husbands are working donkey hours to make ends meet and keep their jobs, which tires them and makes them more prone to give in to the beautiful Muslim woman who works with them, or the new young Christian girl at work who they take responsibility for protecting - before they know it the relationship in that stressful environment has taken on very unhealthy proportions.
Wives are becoming suicidal and wanting to leave their husbands or falling into the same problem in reverse with their Muslim co workers who are known to force Christian girls to sleep with them. Am I sounding too brazen? Forgive me. But the time has come to be honest. My people are suffering in more ways than one. Pastors are overworked and tired and restricted in what the Government allows them to do.
Those who live for Jesus suffer in ways like rape, being sold into prostitution, and physical persecution, even things like being refused electrictiy in their homes or medicine. Others who become more savy and avoid the whip on their skin end up with the noose around their neck. At the cost of what? Broken families? My heart is breaking for my people. As Paul writes in Colossians, I feel the same that God is filling up the flesh of some of us with what is lacking in regard to Christ's affliction for the sake of His body. I feel that in my body for my people.
God has asked me for my eyes that His tears may be shed for my people, He has asked me for my arms, that I may reach out in His love this broken and hurting generation. My land is torn, my people are hurting - what will become? Will you cry with me before the Lord that the cancerous part of the body be healed. Will you cry with me before the Lord that those who are suffering for their faith be strengthened and remain faithful? Will you cry with me for families? For surely they are under a dark dark cloud in this day. This is the truth and you are part of this story.
Please Pray for these persecuted Christians!! God Bless you all!
Posted on 07/09/2011 12:00 AM --Please please please pray for Christian families in Pakistan. Whichever way I turn I hear of families breaking up. I hear of people leaving for the West and then their family's breaking up there. I hear of parents being so busy trying to put food on their tables there is no time for prayers and reading the Bible together.
I have heard of a pastor who is going from house to house on Saturdays and Sundays trying to read Scripture with families. Some people have to work on Sunday and dont get time off like nurses and they don't get to come to church with their kids. Some parents have been getting better jobs in Dubai and Malaysia and so they go away, there leaving a mum or a dad and the kids home to care for the children. Some pastors have to be away for weeks on end and the family are without joint parenting. It's not safe for pastors to take their wives with them.
Not every family is crumbling. Some get stronger but my heart aches for Cyqa. She is 23, a nurse and as the only Christian on her corridor life is just alot harder for her than for most other nurses. She was raped by a doctor and she hid it so long that she is almost dependent on him to not tell anyone so she has been in this 'forced' relationship for a year now. Every one is talking about it behind her back. She is scared, if she refuses him it could be a blasphemy case of gang rape by other doctors.
Its scary. Who will help that doctor's family who know nothing of Cyqa. Who will help Cyqa? Our pastor is trying to get her transferred. She can't give up her job as she is the only earning member of her family and she has 5 sibblings to care for.
Pakistan's Christians are in crisis. We are being robbed of our dignity and our joy. We must remember our first love. We must remember Jesus. We must keep our eyes on him.
Posted on 07/24/2011 12:00 AM -- I leave for Church in a while! Its ridiculously hot and humid after days of beautiful rain. I love it when it rains and breaks the heat. The fragrance of earth and rain will always be my favourite. I wonder if we will ever be able to bottle it - I think only the wonders of God could create something like that. My cousin tells me she has this crazy shampoo in England, its a solid Shampoo and conditioner from a herbal soap shop and she says its the closest thing she has ever smelt to the amazingness of hot earth and warm monsoon rain. If you have ever smelt that or ever do let it remind you to pray for the Church in Pakistan. Let it remind you of the heat of perseuction we face and the need for the rain of the Holy Spirit and what will happen when a persecuted Church is touched by the Holy Spirit.
I ask not that you pray for an end to our persecution. Pray of course dear brothers and sisters for Churches and Christian gatherings to be kept safe, pray of course for the protection of our pastors and lay workers. But above all start praying for the hearts of pastors and congregations. Pray that believers would be ready to hear the Lord minister to them and would be obedient when the Lord tells us in Pakistan, Iran and the Middle East to 'Go Forth' and love our Muslim Neighbour. Pray for our pastors and preachers across these lands that they would have the word of the Lord impressed on their hearts, pray that when we sing Psalms they would not just be from memory but from a deep work inside our lives.
Lord Jesus, may your Word rain down on us, may a fragrance rise that is pleasing to you as we are touched by the Holy Spirit that inspired your word and is preached by your servants across the Muslim world. May the Church rise up and shine like a city on a hill bringing many to Salvation. Pray for us friends. We need your prayers. May Church not be a place of fear and sadness and despair but a place from where great ministry goes out and nations come to know Jesus.