Isa and Marisa

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A few days ago, while trying to meet everyone on our road, we wandered into a home-front clinic where we had the opportunity to talk with Isa and his wife, Marisa.

Isa studied in Medina, Saudi Arabia, 500 km (311 miles) from Mecca. “My school had 20,000 students from all over the world. There they get a room, board and a stipend,” Isa said.

“The school grounds are five kilometers on each side,” his friendly wife Marisa chimed in.

Isa added, “I learned about the 25 Islamic Prophets. Jesus, you know, is only a prophet in Islam, not God, like in Christianity. That’s the main difference between our religions.”

“That’s a big one, though, isn’t it?” I replied.

“It surely is. I learned Islamic law there too. Laws such as women cannot show their hair. Men cannot wear shorts but must wear pants [whose length extends] below the knee but not below the ankle bone. Thieves’ fingers must be cut off. Muslims have to pray five times a day and not eat pork,” Isa stated. “Do you eat pork?” he asked.

“Of four-footed animals, I eat only those that chew the cud and have a split hoof. I would not eat pork if my life depended on it,” I replied.

Isa, however, gave a different take on eating pork. “In Islam, the Quran allows eating pork in life and death situations. For instance, if the whole village depended on you—they would be at a loss without you—and you were alone in the jungle about to starve to death, it would be okay to eat it. That’s because there is a verse that says, follow my laws as you are able.”

I then asked about an instance of another people group. “What about the Great River people who starved rather than eat pork purposefully mixed into all the food by the Khmer Rouge when he wanted to abolish all religion?”

“Yes. My grandmother has told me those stories,” Isa said.

“I suppose we would each have to make those decisions with God’s guidance per the situation,” I offered, then asked, “What do you do, Marisa?”

“I am the school nurse in the afternoons. I run this home clinic on mornings and weekends. There are 1,200 girls at the school, so there is never a day when there is not someone sick,” said Marisa.

During our visit, their three-year-old boy and our Nathan struggled a little to share toys, but after they warmed up to each other, it seemed like they could be good playmates. Before leaving, Nathan helped put all the toys away nicely for them. We look forward to visiting again. Please pray we will form a friendship based on our shared love for God. Please also pray that we will meet more of the educated and thought leaders as we display Christ through our lives and engage in thoughtful conversations about our faiths. We pray that through us, they will begin thinking and talking about Jesus among themselves so that, as a community, they will make a decision for Him.

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