"What can I offer the LORD for all He has done for me?"
I have seen what it means to be a true missionary. Complete abandon of self, and constant focus on loving Jesus and loving people. -Maddi
Language barriers can be such an intimidating hurdle in any ministry setting. I quickly learned, however, that ministry, particularly to Muslim women, can be almost completely nonverbal. At the beginning of a summer picnic with some of the women yesterday, we played a few simple get-to-know-you games. We were all asked what we liked most and least about Spain. I answered that, although it was completely a fault of my own and not of Spain itself, I didn't like not being able to communicate freely. One of the women, after some translation looked directly at me, touched her hand to her heart, and then pointed at me and smiled. No words were needed; she felt the same way. When she left for the train home a few hours later she gave me three, not two kisses on the cheek. This is the Moroccan way of saying that they have accepted you as a friend, close to their hearts. The very thing that I considered such a burden and a barrier was the same tool the Lord used to bind my heart to this precious woman, and open a door to a deeper trust. -Anna
Being with these precious Muslim women on a day to day basis, whether it be at a ministry event, or in a local grocery store near my apartment, has revealed to me a change I must make in my own heart. For months I have been praying for these women as if they are remarkably different from me, as people with problems that I want to understand and help fix. Now that I know so many of them--their names, their faces, their children, their stories--I have realized that they are not so unlike me. They love fashion and shopping, they have favorite foods and favorite songs. They love to laugh at inside jokes with their friends. They love to talk about weddings and girl stuff; like the time one of our Muslim friends let some of our team members try on her wedding dress and had them model it for all the girls at her house. I have so loved getting to know these women. They are smart, hilarious, sarcastic and alive! I have learned so quickly that this is the most important part of being able to reach someone. You must see them for who they are. I think I knew it a little before, but i know it more now, that there is so much underneath those satin veils. I love thinking about how much Jesus loves these awesome women, how He formed them each individually and so perfectly. - Maddi
Today in Arabic church, one of the missionaries here spoke on the call Isa has placed on our lives to be salt and light to the world. As he spoke, it called to mind a passage from a book I have been reading on ministering to Muslims. The author, Carl Medearis says "It always amazes me how often those of us from Christian backgrounds don't know how to party...Sometimes I've wondered if I've replaced being a vibrant witness of Jesus with cheap, lifeless imitations...What if your house were known on your street (and by your Muslim neighbors) as a party house?" Middle Eastern culture is all about relationship, and often these relationships are developed and nurtured around a meal. Our Savior came from this same cultural setting, and being a part of this ministry has left me in no doubt that He calls us to show our Muslim neighbors how to enjoy the genuine joy of life in Him. After all, if salt loses its saltiness, what is it good for but to be thrown out? I am reminded daily here not to forget how to enjoy life and joy in my zeal to reveal Good News. In reality, I lose a big part of my witness, especially in this cultural context, if I "forget how to party." - Anna
In my first journal entry of this trip I wrote these words: " I am really hoping and praying that Anna and I will connect immediately with our team. I pray that our time here is productive and helpful to this program. I pray that we will be given the strength to be a part of anything, even if it might seem scary, obscure or difficult." Since the day we arrived here, Jesus has filled us with the power of His Spirit. He has given us so much joy and excitement for every aspect of our ministry here. We know it comes from Him and we give Him all the glory. It has been really cool to see how both of our passions and skills fit right into the needs here. It's almost like Jesus had this thing planned out all along... -Maddi
I have learned the true value of mentors in ministry. The women who serve here have taught me, in word and deed, how to love as Isa does. Their love changes the faces of these precious Muslim women, as they begin to understand and reflect the love of a Savior. -Anna
A new commandment I give you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another.
By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.