God loves women. He loves Christian women. He equally loves Muslim women. God loves all women. Women matter to God. In a day and age where not every culture or country celebrates this fact, we need to hear this truth again straight from the Word of God. Never doubt for a moment that women matter to God.
Over the next few weeks leading up to Christmas, we’ll take a closer look at a truly remarkable woman in Scripture. She serves as a beautiful model of faith and obedience, and her story vividly demonstrates the far-surpassing reach of our God in breaching culture and custom to send us His Son.
Luke 1:26 states “In the sixth month of Elizabeth’s pregnancy, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee.” Nazareth was a little town in the middle of nowhere. No trade route passed through it at the time Gabriel appeared to Mary. Scholars believe only a few hundred people lived there. Later, Nathanael would scoff in John 1:46, “Can anything good even come from Nazareth?” Clearly there was nothing special about Nazareth at all, yet God considered this insignificant little village worthy of His attention. Likewise, God knows where we are today; He knows where we live. He knows where the millions of Muslim women live. He sees every individual one. He is sovereignly moving them into our cities and neighborhoods and arranging divine appointments. Our God is flawless with geography.
In Luke 1:27 we read of “a virgin pledged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David. The virgin’s name was Mary.” In the village of Nazareth, we find the young girl Mary going about her daily life. The angel appeared to her unheralded and unexpected. In the same way, as we are going about our usual tasks, God’s divine plan is unfolding. How many times have we been seemingly minding our own business only to encounter the Lord divinely orchestrating our steps and intersecting our lives with precious Muslim women? At any given moment, our lives can change dramatically. How Jesus desires to show up when we least expect Him!
Biblical scholars believe Mary was quite young, anywhere from twelve to sixteen years old. It is very likely she was from a poor farming family and uneducated. There is a major cross-cultural element at work in the Christmas narrative that we cannot miss. In the Jewish culture at this time, women were granted status in the community, family, and all other aspects of life based upon their husband and their ability to bear and raise children. When did God send His life-changing message to Mary? Before she was married, before she had any children, while she was a young virgin with no other way to earn her place in society! God chose to appear to Mary first, not to her soon to-be husband, even though culturally she had no place or status apart from Joseph. Muslim women also understand this cultural scenario very well. Even today, they can relate with Mary and her place and position. What a wonderful opportunity and open door we have to share with them of the God Who bestows eternal value upon them!
God’s message to His people in choosing a virgin from a small, insignificant village is deliberate: no skills, connections, relationships, wealth, education, works, or anything else can earn His favor and merit. This is God’s message to us today as well! Do we see again how much God loves and values women? How God is so intentional in changing our culture and our way of thinking, all the while conforming us to His very image?
As we step out in faith and obedience this holiday season in reaching out to our Muslim friends and neighbors, may we do so with the knowledge that our great God sees us and knows us. He sees our Muslim friends, and He greatly loves them. What wonderful Truth we can share with them…woman to woman.
*The author is writing under the pseudonym, Ruth Walker.