The Girl in the Foyer

Scenario one:
It is Sunday in a city that has been steeped in Islam for almost half a millennium. In this particular neighborhood the mosque’s minaret towers over hundreds of homes that line its placid streets. Loudspeakers protruding from the portentous pylons pronounce the Islamic call to prayer into every residential courtyard; indeed, it enters the ears of every person within the sound’s reach. Five times a day Muslims here respond and confess that there is no other God but Allah, and Muhammad is his prophet.

But not all people in this community are Muslim. A humble, valiant band of Christians, whose decision to follow Christ costs them daily, gathers in one of these neighborhood homes to worship the God who has atoned for their sins and made them joint heirs in the family of Christ. Some of them are secret believers. Others have relinquished everything to belong to Jesus.
On this Sunday, Lairab* stands to testify. A soft, white veil draped over her slight frame finds its antithesis in her robust declaration. “This week I have spent some days in the hospital. Weakness incapacitated me, but the God in whom I trust restored my strength.” She exhorts those there to rely on Him always, because he is a faithful, loving Father who meets his children’s needs. Lairab and her husband, leaders of this congregation, trace their conversion to the prayers and friendship of a Christian woman who years earlier befriended a family member. Now, although outcasts among Muslims, they are a church that bears strong witness in the shadow of a very influential mosque.

Scenario two:
It is Friday in an American Bible-Belt city. This particular neighborhood hosts an Islamic center that sits just a short distance from Evangelical denominational headquarters and at least a dozen Christian churches. Julia* is a guest at the center, which doubles as a mosque where the area’s Muslims worship.

Following this Friday’s prayers and the imam’s sermon, the women, all who have participated in the service from behind a screened off area customarily designated for them, prepare for a special announcement.
Through their side of the screen the women see the shadow of the suited man who happily informs everyone that today a lady will become Muslim. The man explains that he will lead her in the pronunciation of the Islamic creed: “There is no other God but Allah and Muhammad is his prophet.” From the ladies’ side of the screen this American girl embraces Islam by repeating the creed three times. She sheds tears as the Muslim women around her celebrate with high-pitched ululations and welcoming hugs.

After the ceremony, Julia asks the new Muslim what compelled her to embrace Islam. She replies that she has visited some local Christian churches, but could never feel like she belonged.

The paradox is sobering. In a very stayed context halfway around the world, where Christian witness is sparse and one’s decision to follow Jesus is costly, a band of brave Muslims finds its belonging in Christ worth all sacrifice. At home, where comparatively speaking, Christianity is almost an assumption, a young woman’s yearning to belong somewhere lands her in the arms of receptive Muslims

The common truth here rests in every Christian’s call. No matter where we are, it is our commitment to the mission of God everywhere that should define what happens around us. That mission is about making the family of God home to whomever might enter the door, always.
Somewhere, halfway around the world a few years back, a Christian girl made God’s family home to a Muslim girl, and today a church exists there. Somewhere, in a church foyer close by, a Christian girl was not as hospitable, and the person who needed to belong found a home in Islam.

The truth is that most of us in ministry would confess to being both Christian girls. In our life’s work, where things are comfortable and the expectations are clear, we are fruitful. But are we stayed there? Would our friend in the church foyer find our arms open, or would she need to look elsewhere?

Lynda Hausfeld is the founder and director of Say Hello: Serving Muslim Women, a ministry that encourages and equips Christian woman to develop Christ-centered relationship with Muslim women!

Tags: , ,

Leave a reply