My home among the Hui is on the edge of the Gobi Desert, the largest desert in Asia with an area of 500,000 square meters. The weather is dry, and it rarely rains or snows. I come from a place in America that has a very similar climate so it was not a hard adjustment adapting to the physical environment. However most recently I lived in the Pacific Northwest where rain is much more common. Sometimes my spirit seems to match the environment in its dryness, and I long for rain to quench my thirst spiritually.
Sometimes, when you hear a new song, there’s one single line that just gets stuck in your head. For me, “Prayer for the Hui” has one of those lines. Of course, there are clearly God-glorifying, gospel-centered words throughout the song, laying before God our prayer that He would work throughout the world bringing people into His Kingdom. But there was this one line that resonated with me in a profound way and had a huge impact on my thoughts and prayers, because it was so applicable to my own life and my own struggles with sharing the gospel with those I know personally.
She listens to hip-hop. She likes to take selfies with her friends on an app with fun filters – the cat one is her favorite. She hangs out at coffee shops and likes to sing with her friends at a KTV restaurant on the weekends. She’s laughing at a GIF that one of her friends sent of a baby dancing. Meet MaHui*, a college student.
We had an extra room that no one was using so why not? We met a friend who is Hui about six months ago and have gotten to know her and her family. We learned during her school break she was planning on living in a small two bedroom apartment with her other five relatives. We knew in our apartment we had an extra room available that no one was using so we prayed about asking our friend to live with us for her two month school break.
I sat around the lunch table and couldn’t help reflecting on the irony of it all. Here we were, celebrating the national Spring Festival (which Muslims don’t participate in) where our Hui friend’s family were smoking and drinking alcohol (which Muslims don’t consume) asking their non-muslim friend why Muslims in fact are not allowed to eat pork! This was not the Islam I had read about in most books.
I have a friend who is Hui. She might be my best friend in the city. Why are we so close when it seems like it takes so long for relationships to be built here in East Asia? Many times when I try to become friends with people here I get surface answers of “I’m fine, life is great, no problems here.”