“…to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the Lord for the display of His splendor.” Isaiah 61:3
29 April 2009
Today I saw true despair. My friend took me to see a woman whose son goes to the same school as hers. This woman is of the upper echelon, an ancestor of the Muslim missionary from Iraq who first brought Islam to Kashmir. She graciously accepted us into her home with joy on her face, amazed that we would take time to come and see her. At first we went into her living room to sit, but she quickly took us upstairs to show us her home. She was very proud of it, and asked us to wait for her in her bedroom while she made us tea. This transition into her room made it apparent that she was inviting us to really know her, and that she desired a more intimate fellowship. After bringing us bread and tea, she quickly revealed her hurt and pain to us. She takes care of everything in the home, and she says that her mother in law and father in law are harsh to her. She said that her husband is a worldly man, and oddly she called her husband at work and had my friend talk to him. Later we discussed that she was probably covering herself in order to prove who her visitors were at her home that day. She shared that she had no car, and that she stayed in her home all day. She felt that she was under a curse, a common fear among the women here. She explains that she goes to the shrines to seek healing and supernatural power.
The shrines are places where saints are buried and even though it is forbidden in Islam, many Kashmiri’s go to there to seek help. I visited the Maqdoom Sahib Shrine the day before, and it is true that there is supernatural power there, but it is not God’s power. The Holy Spirit is clearly not present. When I first entered the shrine, I began to pray, but it was so difficult. The chanting seemed to drown out my own thoughts. It was only until I concentrated deep within myself that I could sense God’s presence. I am not sure that I have ever been in a place where God clearly was not present. It reminded me that Christ truly does abide within us, and even though we may walk in the midst of evil, Christ never leaves us.
So, our new friend seeks help within the Qu’ran and in the shrines, and in any place that might offers answers. With tears brimming in her eyes, my friend and I prayed for this Muslim woman. We prayed in Jesus’ name that she would be released from this spirit of darkness and despair. We shared a story with her that demonstrates God’s love for women, and His power and willingness to heal them. We shared that in Christ we are sealed by the Holy Spirit, and that we seek refuge in Him, and no evil spirit can touch us. We invited her to the women’s book club on Friday, an outreach to the unreached women here, and she was more than eager to go.
We put her in God’s hands now. My friend will continue to minister to her, and we will pray, but ultimately, only God can open her heart to the truth. Many Muslims have dreams and visions, and perhaps Isa (Jesus) will appear to her and tell her that we brought her a message of truth. Or perhaps, with time, God will open her heart, and she will accept the truth that will bring her freedom from her captivity. Either way, this is not an easy road for her. Her husband is a prominent man, and becoming a Christian can mean many things for her. Her husband can take away her children. She could be disowned and destitute, or perhaps even worse things could come of this decision. We do not know what will happen with her, but God does. We place her in his hands and ask that He give her a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair, that she might become an oak of righteousness, a display of His splendor.