A Sticky Situation

Arabic Bible

Today I went to help an organization that reaches out to Muslims.  They have put hundreds of Euros into materials for sharing the Good News of Jesus Christ.  My job was to help put sticker labels onto the materials, which included tiny Bibles in Arabic, the Jesus Film, and Arabic Bibles on flash drives.  Some of these items are so cleverly disguised that unless you knew what to look for, you would never guess that they contained Christian materials.  The whole idea is to make these materials safe to carry into countries where they would otherwise be confiscated and destroyed, and the person transporting them would be in danger of his or her life.

The first thing that Kitty and I did was to pray over the materials, that they would find their way into the right hands; and that the recipients would be ready to receive both the materials and Jesus as Lord.

As we worked, we prayed and talked.  Kitty is one of the most interesting and fully committed missionaries I’ve ever met.  Her calling is for Muslim women, so a few years ago she moved to a Middle Eastern country as a student of Arabic.  She threw herself into the language study, not just during school hours, but also during her leisure time.  She started out in the large city where the language school was, but then moved to a small suburb.  Why?  Because in the big city all the shopkeepers wanted to practice their English with her, but she wanted the opportunity to put her Arabic into use.  She watched only Arabic TV, and got to know her neighbors so that she could have friends who spoke only Arabic.

Friendships between Muslims in the Middle East and westerners are not easily built, but Kitty was persistent.  Because of her sweet and open nature, the Muslim women did accept Kitty as a friend—but only after she had been approved by the husband.  Even friendships with children are difficult, Kitty told me.  She said that the same small child who had been hugging you in his living room would often follow you down the street, throwing rocks at you.  One four year old sweetly asked Kitty, “Are you really an infidel?”

Now Kitty has returned to Italy, and teaches Italian to Muslim women.  Outside of their own culture, the women are more open to building friendships, but some still need the husband’s approval.  Many Muslim men doubt the importance of education for their wives, so many of them are illiterate, even in their own language.

The wives buy groceries mostly in the halal (literally permitted) shops, where the meats have been butchered according to Muslim tradition—much like kosher groceries.  Sometimes her students will bring her a packet of cookies or snacks and ask if they are clean to eat.  The problem for Muslims is usually the presence of pork or pork fat.  Once a student brought a bag of popcorn to class, asking if there was pork fat in it.  Kitty looked at the ingredients and found the fats to be clean, but one other ingredient was unacceptable for Muslims: gin—in popcorn from the UK.  The woman was very grateful to have been advised about the presence of alcohol in the popcorn.

Kitty’s love for the Muslim people was obvious.  And she is very excited about the prospect of many Muslims coming to Milan for the Expo.  Brother Andrew, the famed Bible smuggler of the Iron Curtain era, would surely love these clever new devices for transporting Bibles in miniature.  But rather than packing up his little VW bug and crossing the borders with Bibles, the people are coming here.  The theme of the Expo is sustainability—with special focus on food.  People will come, eager to learn how to feed their hungry countries, but will leave with much more than that.  They will return home with the Bread of Life, which will sustain them forever.  God is good!

If you are interested in helping share the Gospel with a hungry world this summer, please register at GoMissions.  There are lots of opportunities for English speakers to share the love of Jesus with people from all over the world.