Last evening, I visited an Islamic home goods shop in my neighborhood with a teammate. We greeted the store clerk with “a salaam alaikum (peace be unto you),” to which she smiled warmly and replied, “wa-alaikum salaam (and unto you peace).”
The store carried everything you could possibly imagine a good Muslim would ever need — clocks that chime for the five daily prayer times (salat), tea sets, golden Quran stands, and memory foam prayer rugs.
A divine encounter
As we walked around praying peace over the store and those in it, we ran into a younger female employee that I’ll call R. Her English was good, so we began asking questions about a few of the religious items in the store. We learned about her personal beliefs and culture through her answers.
R immigrated with her family from a war-torn Arab country a matter of months ago and hopes to start attending university soon. She works at the store when she is not in language class.
“It is special that you come here and speak with me,” she said, “Many people are afraid of us because of our religion.”
We affirmed the kindness and peacefulness of her community here in Brooklyn. We told her we follow Isa Al-Masih (Jesus the Messiah) and feel called to love and understand people who seem different from us. She felt honored!
We exchanged numbers, promising that we would see her soon, and left the shop after saying goodbye in her language. As we walked home, my teammate and I thanked God for leading us to R and prayed that He would use us to introduce her and her family to the Son.
After praying this, I immediately sensed unbelief in my heart. As one of the first women I had met in my neighborhood, it seemed almost outlandish to think she would leave the belief system she has known her whole life to accept Truth.
Then I remembered something a teacher challenged us within a training session: “Jesus says that the harvest is plentiful and the laborers are few, and that we should pray for more laborers to be sent into the harvest. But do you have a true, functional belief that the harvest is actually plentiful?”
I thought of Lydia, the woman whose faith became the starting point of the first century church in Philippi (Acts 16:11-40) – why couldn’t we boldly pray that R would be a Lydia to her people?
God doesn’t send us into empty fields. He wants the harvest to be reaped and the Kingdom to be established in every place more than we ever will.