“They will rebuild the ancient ruins and restore the places long devastated; they will renew their ruined cities that have been devastated for generations.” Isaiah 61:4
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Yesterday we walked through the marketplace. It was one of my favorite adventures on this trip. It was so alive with people selling anything and everything. This is the heart of the city, where merchants strive to make a living for their families. The Kashmiri merchant is persistent, and that persistence is what their livelihood hinges on. At this market, we found huge Kashmiri funnel cakes, tea, beans, chickens, fruit, toys, and anything else you can imagine. We drew attention quickly, as foreigners usually do. Being fair skinned and blonde doesn’t help me hide much. We stood out and quickly drew a crowd. We try to use this to our advantage and take the time to talk to some of them. One little girl drew my attention.
She was 9 years old and spoke great English. She asked me for a pen, so I gave her one. After talking to her for a minute, we walked on. She continued to follow me and introduced me to her brothers. We spoke of America, and she told me that her family owns a shop in the market. As we walked, I prayed that the Lord would show me just what He wanted me to share with her. I bent down and explained that the Bible says God has a good future for her, and that even before she was born, He had a plan for her life. I couldn’t help but think that she might never hear those words. We tell our children this often, but here, they believe that everything is by the mercy of Allah. Maybe he will show her favor, but maybe not. Most likely, she will continue to be schooled, but eventually, she will be married to a Kashmiri man that her parents have chosen for her. She will stay home and take care of the children, and perhaps never feel a sense of purpose to her life. I pray that she will remember what the American lady told her, and as she grows up, I pray that she will seek out those plans that I spoke of.
As we walked on we stopped and bought some sweets, met a few more people, and headed into the Hazaratbol Mosque. My friend and I sat in the grass among women who were waiting for prayer time. We began to pray for them and over Kashmir in the name of Jesus. The little girl and her brother sat down next to us while we read from the Bible and declared the Lord’s praises for Kashmir. I spoke to her again about Jesus being the one sacrifice, the qurbaani, needed for forgiveness of sins. I told her that when she is older, she should remember me, and read the Injil, the Gospel. As we said goodbye, I gave her a Jesus Film to watch with her family.
Much depends on children like this little girl, whether in America or in Kashmir. They are the next generation, and what they are taught as children formulates their worldview in such a way that is difficult to change their minds later. Many of the women and men in Kashmir have heard the Gospel, but they cling to Mohammed out of fear. It a rock that is buried deep in their hearts that has to be chiseled away. Kashmiris are open to hearing the message, but the seeds can not take root without the Lord tilling the soil of their hearts. I hope that by sharing a little about Jesus with this little girl, I have placed a crack in that rock, a place for the Lord to put his chisel and begin to break it apart until it is completely shattered. I pray that a root will take its place, and a beautiful flowering plant will grow. Perhaps she will grow up to bring the truth of Christ to her family and friends in Kashmir, producing a crop a hundred-fold.