I was standing on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem when Jesus first began, in a significant way, to share with me His love for Muslim women.
For years, my nightstand has held books recounting the unprecedented ways God is moving today in the Muslim world. But that day on the Temple Mount, it was as though I saw Muslim women for the first time as real people. And I found myself being drawn toward them.
I didn’t want to preach at them or run from them. I simply wanted to be with them. I wanted to hear their stories. I longed to bridge the cultural, religious, and language barriers that separated us and whisper, “I’m so glad you were created! I’d love to hear your story—your hopes and dreams. The places of joy and sorrow you’ve known. I want to be with you.”
God’s Heart for Muslims
As I returned home, I began to realize that’s actually the reason for the gospel. The very existence of the Temple Mount tells the story of a holy and righteous God who made a way to be with those He created, those broken and wounded by the realities of sin and life in a fallen world. Those wandering far from the God who loves them.
Therefore the LORD waits to be gracious to you, and therefore he exalts himself to show mercy to you (Isa. 30:18).
“I want to be with you” is God’s heart toward us, and we gratefully embrace that gospel truth, right? But how do we respond to God’s “I want to be with you” heart for the Muslim world? For the Muslims in our country? For our Muslim neighbors and coworkers?
They too are created in the image of God. They too are being fervently pursued by God’s relentless love and mercy that delivered you and me out of darkness and into the kingdom of God.
But Carrie, aren’t Muslims enemies of the cross of Christ? Yes. And so were we.
Remember that you were at that time separated from Christ, alienated from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world (Eph. 2:12, emphasis added).
[God] desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth (1 Tim. 2:4).
Aren’t followers of Christ around the globe being horrifically persecuted by radical Muslims today? Yes. We weep with our brothers and sisters in Christ and ask the Lord to redeem their suffering and bring many into the kingdom of God. And we remember that our Lord graciously prepared us, telling us that such atrocities would happen.
“If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you” (John 15:18).
“But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you” (Matt. 5:44).
But even if you should suffer for righteousness’ sake, you will be blessed. Have no fear of them, nor be troubled (1 Peter 3:14).
Pray and Befriend
Isn’t it enough then to offer a prayer for the Muslim world? Yes, we must pray! And you might begin during Ramadan with this guide: 30 Days of Prayer for the Muslim World. As we pray, could we also befriend Muslim women? Could you spend time getting to know the Muslim woman who crosses your path each week? Could you visit her home and invite her family into your home?
How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!” (Rom. 10:14–15).
My answer to those questions five years ago would have been something like this: “What?! I watch the daily news. I fear the ‘What ifs’ those reports can stir in a soul. I know so little about Islam or the realities of Muslim women. Sure I’ll pray, but become personally involved? I’m not sure I want to do that.”
I never asked the Lord to give me a heart for the Muslim world. But for the last few years He’s been inviting me to remember those women on the Temple Mount—to imagine the anguish and hopelessness of a Muslim woman who has never experienced the love of God through friendship with a follower of Jesus. He’s caused my path to cross with Christians who were befriending Muslims here in the United States. And then in a crazy, “only God” kind of way, He opened an opportunity for me to attend a training through Crescent Project, a ministry dedicated to equipping Christians to reach into the Muslim world.
Along this journey, God has wrecked my heart for the Muslim world. I find myself looking for our “covered friends” when I’m shopping or at the coffee shop. I try to make eye contact with Muslim women, to smile and ask about their children or their homeland. I ask the Lord to give me opportunities to engage with them as I silently pray for Jesus to give them dreams and visions of Himself and friends who can share Jesus’ love with them.
A Story of Friendship
The Lord recently connected me with a Muslim friend in my area. I’m still amazed how quickly Jesus wove together the lives of two women from different generations, different countries, and very different cultures!
We spent hours learning about one another’s lives. My friend’s family became a part of our family. Our grandson adored her little one and enjoyed soccer tips from her husband. I was invited into her circle of friends, and she was loved on and prayed for by mine. We laughed and cried together as we spent time in one another’s homes. We celebrated birthdays and shared our heartaches and trials.
On a particularly difficult day, my friend allowed me to pray for her in Jesus’ name. With tears streaming down her face, she whispered, “I’ve never experienced such peace.” In tears, I whispered a silent prayer of thanks. “I never imagined experiencing such love for a Muslim woman or the ways her life and friendship would change my heart.”
Has my friend become a follower of Christ? No, but she has experienced the love of Christ through His people. She has heard the stories of how Jesus’ love is changing me and my family. She has found a place of belonging in our family. I wonder, at times, if that’s why the Lord brought her to our little town.
“And he made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their dwelling place, that they should seek God, and perhaps feel their way toward him and find him. Yet he is actually not far from each one of us” (Acts 17:26–27).
Consider: How is the Lord inviting you to share His heart for the Muslim world? What opportunities for connecting with Muslim women exist in your community? Who could you join with in praying for the Muslim world during Ramadan?