A one-sided conversation
I had a few people on my mind I wanted to see. My friend’s husband is elderly and has many challenges in his health. I had been praying for him, and although his wife and some other family members are believers, he, to my knowledge, is not a follower of Jesus.
For this reason, I went midweek, when no one else would be visiting. I honestly tried to share with him about Jesus, but as soon as I mentioned spiritual matters, he started telling stories about certain ‘prophets’ that only older men seem to know about, stories which have been passed down orally and are mostly fables. With his speed of speaking and unclear diction, I could hardly keep up with him.
When I mentioned Jesus the Messiah, he had a story to tell too – one I’d never heard before!!
I tried to drop in a few seeds of biblical truth, but it was difficult. Despite my good intentions, I barely got a word in edgeways. Still, his wife was happy. She hadn’t seen him so animated for days, as he’s been in bed recovering from a serious infection.
A chat in a taxi
I left my friend’s house and for part of the journey home, I got a local taxi. I was so keen to share at this point, that within a few seconds, the taxi driver and I got into an interesting conversation. I’m not sure about how it started, but we were soon talking about his family. His wife wore the full religious Muslim covering, hijab. He liked to spend time at home with his family, not in cafes socialising all the time with other men. There were a few of his comments that impressed me, especially his devotion to his family.
The taxi driver asked me if there were prophecies in the Ingil (the Gospels). I said there is one predicting Jesus’ birth and that of John the Baptist. I also emphasised the fact that the prophets in the Old Testament talked about the circumstances of Jesus’ birth, life and death.
In John 14:16-20 it talks about the Holy Spirit – “ I will send you a comforter, a helper”. Many Muslims believe this refers to Mohamed, as the word for comforter is similar in the Greek to the meaning of Mohamed /Ahmed. I had recently heard a young convert to Christianity say that it’s strange that Muslims can claim this verse in John when they reject all the important events preceding and following this verse – especially the fact of Jesus’ death and resurrection. I was able to share this with him, and he thoughtfully replied, "I see what you mean."
What is heaven like?
Later, I went with a friend to have a coffee. As we were catching up, she said, "Let’s call my husband to come and join us." His office is in the vicinity of the cafe. When she rang him he said, "I’m at the door." He was feeling thirsty, and while passing, had decided to get a drink at that place. So he quickly sat down with us.
I had already had some good conversations with my friend’s husband. He told me he had been looking at the Bible online and had asked me some questions about it.
As we sat drinking coffee, the subject he brought up was heaven. Hamid* asked me what the Bible says about heaven and whether there is a river there. (According to the Quran, there is a river in heaven.) I replied that there is a river there, according to the book of Revelation.
I told Hamid and his wife that God is the light of heaven. Our focus will be on God and we will have great joy being with Him. We will worship Him with a great throng of people.
Hamid asked, "I wonder why Christians have such a spiritual view of heaven, whereas in the Quran it’s so physical?" In Jenna, Muslims are promised women and wine - that doesn’t make a person drunk. He said, "It’s probably because God knows that Westerners are more attracted by spiritual things, but Arabs are more attracted by physical things."
I replied, if God gave two different religious groups contradictory pictures of heaven, just to attract them, that would be totally dishonest. Truth is truth and God cannot lie. But if so called ‘prophets’ were to give two very different pictures of heaven, that’s another matter!
This account is written by OM worker Mary May, who has lived in the North Africa region for many years and who enjoys reading and writing about what God is doing.
Published: Tuesday, 21 March 2017
Credit: Mary May