I could see the weariness in her face. She was tired. She was exhausted from working hard to serve her family. But here she was, just like other days, ready to serve us with a smile and a contagious laugh. She didn’t complain. The extra work was just what she had to do. After all, it was Ramadan.
“Betty,” our house-helper while we lived in Central Asia, was a joy and encouragement in our lives. Over 90% of the people in the country where we lived are Muslim. The month of Ramadan is the most important month in the Islamic year. Devout Muslims fast from sun-up to sun-down. What this meant for Betty is that she would get up two to three hours before sunrise to cook a breakfast that her family could eat shortly before sunrise. She would then clean up and come to work in our home (a common practice for ex-patriots and many locals as well). We would insist on her leaving early to get home in time for some rest because she would begin cooking in the early evening for the daily “iftar” meal, the meal the breaks the daily fast. She would go to bed and do this all again the next day. All this on top of not eating during the days made for an exhausting month!
What is Ramadan?
Fasting during the month of Ramadan is one of the five pillars of Islam. (The others are: Declaration of Faith in no God but Allah and Muhammed as His Prophet, Daily Prayer; Almsgiving to the Poor, Pilgrimage to Mecca). While the fasting during this month is intended to be a spiritual practice that brings devout Muslims closer to God, it often becomes a legalistic practice. Many Muslims experience all the pillars of Islam as a way to earn God’s blessing and many live in fear throughout their lives that God will reject them when they die.
This year, Ramadan started on Saturday, April 2, and goes through May 2, when Muslims will celebrate Eidi Ramadan, their biggest holiday of the year to mark its end.
Ramadan is a great opportunity for followers of Jesus to pray for our Muslim neighbors. It can be a time for us to love others and show them that we truly care about them and what’s important to them. Ramadan is the biggest opportunity of the year for Christians to be a witness to Muslims of God’s love for them.
Many Muslims throughout the world pray to receive dreams and visions from God during Ramadan. What many of them don’t know (and what you might not know as well!) is that Jesus has, in fact, been appearing to thousands of Muslims in dreams and visions! Jesus, often dressed in white, has been coming to Muslims and inviting them to learn more about Him. God has truly been moving throughout the Islamic world: More Muslims have become followers of Jesus in the last 25 years than during the first 14 centuries of Islam combined!
Will you join me in praying for our Muslim neighbors during Ramadan? Pray to show us how to better love and serve our Muslim neighbors. Pray for Jesus to appear to them in dreams and visions. Pray for God to bless them!
Bradley, an ECO Minister who worships at First Pres, works with Frontier Fellowship. You can contact Bradley at [email protected]