As I wrote last month’s article about our first official meeting with Kandi’s Muslim religious leaders on April 16, I was already anticipating writing a follow-up article. This was not because I had left any important details out of the first article, but because I knew there would be more of the story to tell. Over my years here, I have learned that events in town with any religious significance always prompt comments from imams during their daily services in mosques all over town. And that is what has happened.
I remember back in late 2007 when many imams were very bitter and spoke aggressively against us, calling us enemies of Islam and labeling our landlord, language helpers and friends traitors. Now, nearly four years later, some of the radical preachers are still bitter about us, but the content of their public messages is changing. Lateef, our lay worker, a former Muslim and shaman, heard some comments in mosques that are encouraging signs of the Holy Spirit at work. One imam, after warning his congregation to watch out for Christian missionaries because they are sent to win them to Christianity, confessed that he had attended our April 16 meeting to discover our motives. He said he had been impressed by our reverent handling of the Quran and decided to stay through the whole meeting.
God used Lateef to create that positive impression. I am familiar with the Muslim value of handling holy books reverently, but Lateef suggested we keep the Quran covered with a white cloth on the table and not set other books too near it. Many of our Muslim guests that day were visibly put at ease by this show of respect, and when we invited volunteers to read select verses from the Quran, many raised their hands.
We heard other comments like, “We had a meeting with a pastor who is different,” “We are curious about this pastor’s goals,” and “We would like to know more about this pastor’s work.” These responses assured us that the Holy Spirit is at work in our Muslim friends’ hearts. This is paving the way for future tolerance and acceptance for those in the Muslim community who will show more interest in Issa al-Masih (Jesus the Messiah), the prophet to whom Allah ascribed great power in the Quran.
Dear team, donors, prayer partners and friends, we have no doubt that the Lord is working in our people group. You all contributed in making possible this first historical meeting. No other Christian group has ever achieved anything like this here. We continue to covet your prayers and support as we keep taking steps forward for our Lord.