“For several years now, we have lived in an area of North Africa known to be one of the most orthodox in its practice of Islam. We have developed special and deep friendships with several families. I really enjoy spending time with Ekon, a man who lives with his widowed mother and younger siblings. On one particular occasion, in a conversation which I am sure was guided by the Holy Spirit, Ekon began describing to me in detail the five pillars of Islam so that I might understand the importance these had in his life.
I shared with Ekon that my faith is founded on two pillars: loving God with my entire heart, and loving others as myself. It does not make any sense for a follower of Jesus to say that they love God if they do not love their neighbor; this would only be a fake or empty faith. “It is loving God and loving my neighbor that has brought me here to your country,” I shared, “and that motivates me to do what I do.” Ekon was amazed at hearing these concepts, and at the same time, he said that it made a lot of sense.
Not long after, we had the opportunity to share packages of food supplies with families who were experiencing difficulty during this pandemic season, and Ekon’s family were also recipients of food delivery. Ekon shared with me, “You arrived just when we needed it most.” I reminded him of our prior conversation about the two pillars of the faith, to which he responded, “I remember that conversation well.”
I added, “This is not charity, and this extends beyond friendship; it is God who is concerned about the needs of your family, and I share this with you as an expression of God’s love for you. You are my neighbor, and I love God, and I also love you, but His love for you is far greater.” Ekon told me, “You are truly right in what you say, and I thank you greatly.”
Continuing the conversation, I let Ekon know that I would send him a link where he could listen to a story in his language about a man called the Good Samaritan. Several days later, Ekon shared with me, “The story that you sent me was very interesting. But I did not only listen to that one, I also found many others as well!”
We are grateful that in spite of living in a season with certain rules and confinement, God’s Spirit is not confined, but rather is greatly at work; He is drawing hearts and minds of those who are hungry to know Him.
Name changed for security.