Tuesday, July 25, 2006

A Call to Prayer

It was nearly six years ago, en-route from Thailand to Nepal, I found myself staying overnight in Dhaka, Bangladesh. The air was stifling, warm and sticky. We were bussed from the airport to a hotel and not allowed to leave until they came for us the next day. We were served dinner around 10 at night and finally fell asleep, exhausted from the day's travels. The next morning I was awoken at 5AM by the Muslim call to prayer being broadcast over a loudspeaker from the nearest mosque. I walked out onto the tiny balcony and listened. I heard the faithful responding, and I began to pray for them. Here is what I wrote later in my journal:
This morning I have looked down upon the street and watched them go by: men in their dhotis pedal rickshaws carrying businessmen and a few women and children. A man carrying chickens that looked freshly killed. Women in colorful saris and some in black, completely veiled. Brightly decorated trucks loaded with bricks and cement. Bicycles pulling trailers piled with uniform-clad school children. An old man with white beard carrying pineapple and a woman beneath an umbrella to shade her from the sun. Women with babies on their laps and a young boy, barefooted. Men wearing long white tunics and white caps. Everyone coming, going, living their lives. I love their faces: dark skin, darker eyes, bright smiles.
This was the first time that the world of Islam became real to me, the moment it became people; moms and dads and kids. Real people who live and breathe and work and play and feel pain. During my time in Asia I became familiar with hearing the call to prayer throughout the day and seeing these people go about their lives. With world events as they are it's sometimes easy to forget that they're just people like you and I, most of whom have never been introduced to our Savior.

For the past several years Christians all over the world have joined to pray for the Muslim world during Ramadan, the month that Muslims are required to fast. This year it will be from September 24th through October 23rd. I've participated in this some years and plan to do so again this year. There's a booklet available that gives you specific countries or people groups to pray for each day, or you can choose to receive the information through email. I personally find that I do better with the booklet as email is just too easy to ignore. I think this would be a great thing to do together as a family as it will give your children some exposure to Islam, and a greater understanding of current events, but in the context of prayer. And of course there are lots of educational opportunities as well- geography and culture and history come to mind. The 30-days website also has information about Islam and other resources, including a printable calendar designed for kids. I hope that many of you, along with your families, will answer the call to prayer for the Muslim world.

Muslim Women Praying by Henri Cartier-Bresson

"The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field." -Jesus

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