As Miranda waited for the doors to the tourist attraction to open, she thought about the next four hours. Returning to the well-known locale with a handful of visitors, she neither felt like wandering around the site nor did she want to simply sit on a bench. Since she’d arrived early, she noticed fewer tourists than usual. Most would wait for a few more hours before they showed up, when the growing darkness would lessen the afternoon heat.
To pass the time, Miranda headed toward an area where local women demonstrated how to make traditional handicrafts. She saw one older lady spinning wool into thread. Next to her, another woman was weaving a tent wall panel. Miranda greeted the women in Arabic and tried to start a conversation, but she quickly noticed they were not interested in sharing any information with her.
So she walked another lap around the handicraft area, this time stopping next to a woman knitting a silvery thread to decorate traditional dresses. “Welcome, come have a look,” she beckoned.
Miranda sat down next to her and began talking about her work. First she asked the older woman what she thought of the changes the last three decades had brought to the region. Then she asked how old she was.
“How should I know?” the woman replied. “There were no birth certificates.”
“How old is your oldest child?” Miranda continued.
“There were still no birth certificates.”
Moving on, the woman started chatting about her Filipino housekeeper. After seeing the Hajj, the Islamic pilgrimage, on TV, the maid had wanted to go to Mecca—so much that she converted to Islam, a prerequisite for those travelling to the religion’s holiest sites in Mecca and Medina.
“I can’t go to Mecca, but I’m so happy because God doesn’t live in a place,” Miranda mentioned.
“What you said is true, but if you go on the Hajj, you will be like this,” the woman responded, gesturing to a white pillow nearby.
Miranda and the woman continued talking about the difference between Muslims and Christians.
“Why do you think we have five fingers? Because there are five pillars of Islam; you can remember them,” the lady asserted.
“God is perfect. We cannot stand in front of God. Jesus is our salvation and our wasta (connection) to get to salvation,” Miranda responded. “Doesn’t the Qu’ran say He was created? And He was born sinless? And He was the word of God?”
For about an hour, the women talked about what they knew about each other’s faith. Finally, at the end of the visit, the older woman turned to Miranda. “You have to promise me that you will talk with other Muslims,” she admonished.
“Habibti (beloved), I promise you that I talk to other Muslims, but any time you have a time in your life when you need help, remember Jesus is your wasta,” Miranda returned.
The whole conversation took place in a very loving way, Miranda remembered. “It wasn’t hostile at all, but we also didn’t move from our opinions.”
“This lady, she meets so many foreigners. It’s probably not often that one foreigner, a woman, who is there before any of the crowds arrive, sits for an hour and talks to her,” Miranda stated. “She was just wishing I would find the truth, and I was wishing she would find the truth.”
Pray for Muslims in the AP to discover the truth of who Jesus is. Pray for OM workers to take every opportunity to share with the people they meet.
Nicole James is a journalist, ESL teacher, and adventurer. As a writer for OM Middle East North Africa, she’s passionate about publishing the stories of God’s works among the nations, telling people about the wonderful things He is doing in the world.
Published: Monday, 03 October 2016
Credit: Nicole James