I'm living in one of the largest Muslim-populated countries in the world. I'm only here for two months, but my trip is during a really interesting time. I had the opportunity to experience life here before, during and after two of the biggest holidays: Ramadan (fasting month) and Eid al-Fitr (festival of breaking the fast). While I've studied and read a lot about their faith before I came, it's a whole different experience when you are actually surrounded by it day in and day out.
The call to prayer is heard loudly five times a day. It is a common occurrence for my friends to stop what we are doing to go pray, and it doesn't matter if we are at an art gallery or a coffee shop, there is mostly likely a musholla (a prayer room) there. During Ramadan my friends and the majority of this city refrain from eating, drinking, smoking, marital relations or getting angry during the daylight hours. They are supposed to practice self-control and refrain from bad things such as lying and bad language. My friends wake up early, anywhere from 2 a.m.-4 a.m., to cook and eat before fasting starts. To respect our friends, we do not eat or drink in front of them while they are fasting and try to place our day around when they can hang out and eat. The call of prayer wakes the city up at by 4:45 a.m. and it's normally to shoot fireworks or beat on drums or make other noises to make sure your neighbors are up.
Last night was the final night of Ramadan, which meant the call to prayer went off all night and fireworks were constantly firing. Since it was nearly impossible to sleep with all the noise, all the people in my house (my team, another team from California and two national believers/partners) decided to go light sparklers and have a worship session on our roof. As I sat on the roof listening to our worship music, which seemed so quiet compared to the call to prayer playing on the loudspeaker, and watching fireworks light up the sky, I had time to reflect what I've learned during this month.
My national friends believe they can earn their salvation by doing enough good works. Their religion offers no assurance of salvation. I have never been more burdened for the lost than I am now. Eph 2:8-9 and Titus 3:5 are verses I have memorized and prayed over and over again for my friends to know the salvation which comes from Jesus Christ alone and not anything we can do.
I've been brought to tears multiple times as God has shown me how much the enemy has blinded their eyes to the truth. One of my closest friends here has had dreams I know are dreams are sent from God, but she resists thinking about them. She will start to question her belief system, but then admits how afraid she is to question because she know her family would not accept her if she believes anything other than her religion.
It's so heartbreaking to see God pursuing her, but her running away because she's terrified about what her culture would say or do to her if she believed in Jesus Christ. As I stood on the roof last night praying for her, I was reminded of these two verses:
- The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. 2 Corinthians 10:4
- For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Ephesians 6:12
I've spent two months in a really spiritually dark place. I don't think I've ever fully understood these passages until I came to this city during Ramadan. There is a spiritual battle going on for the souls of my friends here and I'm so thankful God has allowed us to join this battle, even through the good and hard times. I've never been more thankful for the assurance of my salvation, that I can't earn it or lose it, and it comes only through grace by faith. Please be lifting up this city. Be praying that they would come to know the love of the Father and the salvation that comes from Jesus Christ.
Kris, serving with Go Now Missions in Southeast Asia, is a student at TAMU-Commerce.