I so enjoyed my hospital visitation last Friday where I met a rather ill Muslim man from Somalia.
I love talking to Muslims. During my time in the Middle East I had a lot of interaction with them and grew to love them. You will read about that in God in the ICU.
In the UAE where I worked they have an arrogant air (which comes to most people with untold wealth), but underneath is an almost childlike simplicity and vulnerability. This man from Somalia seemed no different. He looked ill and was unwilling to talk much at the start, but once he realised that I knew something about Islam, he seemed to get a new lease of life and spoke animatedly.
What I love about talking to Muslims is that the conversation starts one notch up from that with someone from the secular West. With the latter it starts with “Does God exist?” Muslim language and way of life, however, is peppered with “Insh’allah” (If God wills) and calls to prayer. So the conversation can hinge straight away on the nature of God.
Of course one has to rely on the Holy Spirit and, above all, keep the conversation cordial – sometimes in the face of vehement rhetoric! Inevitably it gets around to the nature of Jesus. Was He a prophet or God Incarnate? We got round to this in about 5 minutes. My tactic was not to answer directly and thus cut the conversation. I explained that the way I saw it, Jesus came to show us what God was like. If we want to know how God loves, we look at how Jesus loved. If we want to know what God thinks of hypocrites, we look at what Jesus thought of them. He came to reflect perfectly, the character of God. We had to leave it at that before we got onto other matters about how are we ever good enough, through our own efforts, to face a holy God.
I longed to pray with him. He looks as if he might not ever be well enough to leave the hospital. His time might be short. Given his vehemence, however, I had to be content with praying under my breath.
Sometimes we have no inkling of what God is doing as we just walk in obedience and share His love. I am trusting that as that man faces the reality that confronts us all – that of our mortality – and theory becomes hard reality, some of what I said sets him thinking. Then I am praying that God will send another messenger to break into his heart with the Truth.