I’ve been attending Easter services since before I was born, but this time was different. I brought my new Muslim friend, an Iraqi refugee, with me. Her English was so limited that I’m not even sure she knew what she was getting herself into. It was her presence beside me that caused me to see everything through a new set of lenses.
As we walked into the church, I cringed and applauded her skilful manoeuvres that avoided the enthusiastic greeters’ touch. The church was already teeming with people- was it a fluke that the only space happened to be in the front row? As we waited for the drama to start, she asked questions about the instruments nearby, and pulled out a hymnbook, asking what kind of book that was. It didn’t seem the time to demonstrate how it was used, so I’m not sure she got my explanation.
I know she didn’t get the dialogue, or why people were laughing at Martha’s grouchiness, but she was engaged in the story. Jesus’ character freely touched the women on the arms or shoulders in the play, and I realized that perhaps He didn't. I could tell that she recognized what was going on with the woman caught in adultery- I really hope there’s a future opportunity to share that story of grace with her again, in her language.
We had bathed this season in a lot of prayer, and I continued to pray for my friend as the story unfolded. When Jesus’ character was beaten and crucified, I heard quiet weeping nearby and realized it was my friend. Is it odd that the Muslim woman is the one crying?
The exuberant, infectious joy of the entire cast at the resurrection of Jesus still rings in my own heart, and it must have bypassed all language barriers! As we exited, the cast lined the foyer to greet us and when my friend saw “Jesus”, she quickly asked if she could have her picture taken with him!
My prayer, oh my fervent prayer, is that this is a step towards being able to introduce her in a life-changing way to the Jesus who gave His life for her. And, isn’t the setting of Welcome Home a perfect place to make that possible?!