She leaned across the table and pierced my eyes and my heart with her words: “I am sitting here with my hijab. You are there with your blonde hair. And yet we can talk like this.”
For the next two hours, we sit together, the group of Muslim women new to our community and the Christian ladies so eager to serve and share Christ.
I’ve been engaged in redemptive conversations among Muslims for many years now. I’ve sipped tea with Muslim women in their Asian homes. They’ve sipped tea in mine. I’ve gone to many malls just to visit the Muslim vendors at their kiosks, awaiting their break times so we may chat for five more minutes. Now I find myself in an English club for the Muslim families who have come to a local university. I take a breath, focus on the beautiful women gathered around the table, and I silently pray.
As believers, we’re always seeking bridges to carry God’s Truth to the other side. And that’s good and right. Sometimes that very bridge turns out to be much simpler than we might originally construct. Sometimes it sounds like an informal chat about music and fashion and Hollywood stars. Sometimes the bridge is found just in living life...woman to woman, friend to friend.
Often we might be tempted to think of each other as something else first, like as a Muslim or as a specific ethnicity or even as an unbeliever. We are women first, created in the image of Almighty God, women whom He longs to call His own.
When I look at a Muslim woman as a Muslim first, I might feel afraid. I might feel tongue-tied as I diligently seek common ground. I might feel inadequate or ill-equipped to engage her in Truth- bearing conversations. I might feel as if she wouldn't really want to talk with me due to our differences.
But when I think of her first as a woman, as a friend, then those obstacles dissipate. I can talk with her about her kids and about mine. We can laugh together at their antics and lament collectively in their youthful struggles. When I see her first as a woman, I feel emboldened to share not just from my heart but from my life as well. Isn’t that exactly what the apostle Paul was all about in his ministry, and how we are still admonished today? To share not only the Gospel, but our very lives as well?
"Because we loved you so much, we were delighted to share with you not only the gospel of God but our lives as well." 1 Thessalonians 2:8
I get up from the table, tears threatening to spill over as I reflect on an evening spent in true Kingdom work. My mind races, and my heart burns deeply within me. I long to see the veil lifted for all of eternity for my new friends as their eyes behold the glory of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. The Truth must get out. It must come out of our mouths, out of our hands as we warmly embrace Muslims, out of our very lives as we seek to build points of community and connection.
God loves Muslims. I know this to be profoundly true. God loves me. Additionally, I know this to be true. In His amazing grace, I find myself also truly loving Muslims. Now I long more than anything for them to fully know God’s indescribable love as well. I believe that’s happening, and it starts with simply saying hello.