Which None Can Shut
3 September 2013
 
 
Over Labor Day weekend I devoured a wondrous book entitled Which None Can Shut: Remarkable True Stories of God's Miraculous Work in the Muslim World by "Reema Goode" (pseudonym). On the back cover of the book, we read:
"See, I have set before you an open door, and no one can shut it." (Revelation 3:8)

Imagine a place where becoming a Christian is a punishable crime — and your own family exacts the punishment. Where those who spread the Gospel among locals are deported if discovered. Where converts to Christianity face persecution, isolation, or even death as the price for their faith.

"Reema Goode" and her family are Christians working in a closed Middle Eastern country where all of these things are true. Yet they are also firsthand witnesses of a whole new trend that is taking shape in missions to Muslims. Despite all obstacles, God is opening miraculous doors in the Islamic world, where an unprecedented number of Muslims are becoming followers of Jesus.

In this powerful collection of personal stories, Reema takes us deep inside her Arab neighborhood to show how God is opening doors in just one of many Islamic communities. As she walks us through everyday life in a Muslim town, she reveals the diverse, creative, unexpected, and thrilling ways God is reaching her neighbors with the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

This encouraging, uplifting, and even humorous firsthand account of a Christian family living among Muslims will inspire you in your own walk of faith, teach you how to pray for Muslims and those who minister to them, and encourage you with the knowledge that God's loving Light is penetrating the darkness.
I'm not usually very impressed by the marketing blurbs on the back of most books, but in this case it all seems very accurate and true, without much hype at all. I found the foreword by Brother Andrew to be worthwhile as well:
We need to hear stories. Jesus told stories. I tell stories. There is no substitute for stories because each one includes echoes from your story, or mine, or that of our children.

The nomad in the desert, the kite flyer in Kabul, the street kid in New York, the terrorist on the mountains in Pakistan, the stone thrower in Gaza or Bethlehem — every one of them has a story, and it needs to be told.

Why? Because Jesus died for, and still loves, every one of them. Their stories help us connect them to the redeeming power of Jesus so we can love and pray for them until each of them, too, is transformed into a positive force to make the world a better place.

Why is it that we see their stories as so different from ours? They were all born as innocent babies, not as terrorists. Many were born in countries where the message of God's love was not known. Does that mean they should not have a chance to hear it?

Why is it we have not yet spread the Good News among them? Maybe we heard God's call but did not go... did not tell, did not share, did not care... Maybe we thought it was too dangerous. But not caring and sharing is far more dangerous!

Yes, each person has a story; in fact, this book is full of them. What these stories from the Arabian Peninsula tell us is what happens when they meet the love of Jesus. And that is why I look forward to a hundred more books like this one. It's not just "their" story; it is "His" story.
Now, for a passage from the first chapter of this remarkable book:
Once, a fellow Christian worker gave us an Arabic paper that was circulating on the Internet titled What the Quran Says about the Bible and Jesus. It was intended to stir Muslims' interest in the Bible. Being novices in the Arabic language, we gave it to our friend Habiiba and asked her to let us know if it said anything interesting — and if what it said was true. Apparently the answer to both questions was yes, because she took it to the local religious teacher for an explanation.

In her very own Quran, she'd confirmed that Sura 6:114-115 says the Bible is God's Word, which "was sent down from the Lord in truth"; that it should not be doubted; and that no one can change it. Yet every Muslim is taught to believe that the Bible has been changed and corrupted. Why? Well, from our viewpoint it's because Muhammad himself thought that his teachings were in agreement with the Bible. At least, with what he had heard of it, since he was illiterate himself. And how many of his followers back in the sixth century had Bibles to compare doctrine with? It wasn't until enough people could acquire books and read them for themselves that the conflicting natures of the Holy Scriptures and the Quran needed to be explained. Hence, the eruption of the teaching among Muslims that the Bible had been falsified somewhere in history — even though such a statement denies the very teaching of the Quran itself.

Such falsehoods persist largely because of ignorance. Indeed, if we had looked up these verses ourselves, we probably would have missed the issue altogether, because most English translations of the Quran have since been "modified" to eliminate the dilemma such verses pose. But Habiiba was an Arab reading the Arabic text, and she knew there was no mistaking what it said. In all the times she had read the Quran, how could she have missed this? There were other problems brought up by the paper as well, and she decided to take them to the local mosque and ask for guidance. There had to be an explanation.

A devout Muslim, Habiiba was a credit to her well-respected family and proud of her heritage. She had no doubt that the religious teacher had a simple answer for all of this. But instead he became angry at her. He tore up the pages in front of her, and then told her to go home and forget everything she'd read. "Good Muslims don't read such trash," he'd said. She was appalled at his reaction, and his treatment of her. She was a good Muslim. It was her wholehearted faith in Islam that had brought her to him for help. She was also intelligent and realized his overreaction meant he had no solution to the problem. This had a profound effect on Habiiba.

In recounting the experience, she determinedly told us, "I will never forget what was written in those papers!" Rather than squelching her interest, her zeal to validate her Islamic faith increased. Habiiba and two of her sisters became my best friends in the neighborhood. It was they who started the practice of calling me late at night to "bring the books." Although their motive was to explain and confirm the truth of Islam rather than to investigate Christianity, they were as eager to listen as they were to speak.

In their efforts to vindicate their religion, my friends were inadvertently exploring the basis for their own personal faith. What do Muslims believe? Exactly why do they believe it? Were they simply following the natural course of conformity to family and societal belief systems, or was there compelling evidence for Islam? As for me, whenever I shared a verse, I had them read it out loud to each other directly from the Arabic Bible. This not only saved time and prevented me from butchering the text, but it allowed them to see God's Word for themselves. I peppered the teaching with personal illustrations of how God and His Word were working in my own life and the lives of our family and friends. The freedom to share was amazing. We found virtually all of our neighbors were open to some depth of spiritual conversation.

A more recent story also dramatizes what God is doing in Muslim hearts today. I was Christmas shopping at one of the many bargain centers in Big Town, another city some distance from our home. While I was going through the checkout, the young Muslim cashier made a mistake and undercharged me. Although he hadn't noticed, I pointed it out to him for the sake of my own integrity. At first he smiled as if to say, "How dumb can you get?" But then his face softened and grew thoughtful, and he thanked me.

"No problem," I cheerily responded, not even attempting to witness or share a verse with him in front of all the other Muslim employees. My white, foreign face told them that I was probably a "Christian" — not to mention that I had just bought several rolls of cheap Chinese Christmas wrapping paper. As I was loading the bags into the car a minute later, I realized I was thirsty and made a mental note to buy water at BigMart, my next stop. But the Holy Spirit seemed to interrupt my thinking: Go back in and buy it here. My first thought was, Why? You don't like BigMart? Still, I locked up the car and obediently went back in to get the water.

As I approached the register with my bottle in hand, two Muslim men wearing prayer caps to signify their piety stepped in front of me and dropped their armload of goods down on the checkout counter. I had only a single item! The American part of me wanted to shout, "I was born in freedom! You can't cut in front of me!" The Christian part of me was thinking, How can I turn this into an opportunity to show God's love? Reasoning that no one can take anything away from me that I freely give them, I forfeited my "rights" with a cheery "Tfaddalu" — politely offering to let them go ahead of me. (Love is not proud... love is patient... love seeks not its own, I reminded myself.) The men responded with a derisive look that seemed to day, "Honey, we're going ahead of you whether you say tfaddalu or not."

Although they had been completely unaffected by my attempt at grace, God did have a reason for all this. Waiting for them to check out meant it took longer for me to leave the store, and that is what gave the young Muslim cashier, whom I'd checked out with before, time to ask for his break, go outside, and walk down the street. By the time I finally paid for the water, got in the car, and began to drive away, that young man was waiting for me. Safely out of view from fellow Muslims, he waved me down. I pulled over and rolled down the window. "Can I help you?"

His words caught me completely off guard. "Yes, miss. I am a Muslim, but I want to become a Christian. Can you tell me how?"

When I introduced him to my husband Mike later, young Ahmad explained what was in his heart. "I am a Muslim, and I know that we Muslims are not straight. We're crooked. But all of the Christians I know, they are like your wife. They are all straight. I want to be a Christian."

These stories, like hundreds of others, testify that this harvest field is no longer the barren granite of yesteryear. God has broken up the fallow ground and prepared the soil. The prayers of His worldwide Church have plowed it. The sweat and tears of generations of faithful witnesses have watered it. The cooperative efforts of the Body of Christ across centuries and around the globe have sown it. The prayer warriors, missionaries, tentmakers, translators, producers of outreach materials and media, broadcasters of Christian programming, as well as those who spread the light through their businesses, Web sites, chat rooms, sports outreaches, and a host of other means are all being used toward the burgeoning harvest. All are part of a picture that is too big to see from any single vantage point. And so it should be, that the glory for the harvest will be no one's but His.
This easy-to-read, 164-page book is packed full of stories, many of which are even more thrilling and amazing than these I've shared here. With so much bad news from the Muslim world, this book is as refreshing as a rain storm in a summer desert — which, actually, is one more of the fantastic stories told in it! Be sure to get a copy of Which None Can Shut: Remarkable True Stories of God's Miraculous Work in the Muslim World, read it, and then share it with your family and friends!
You can send comments to me privately at: shahid@yourislamicfuture.com
 
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