Moving overseas increases the amount of transition that workers face on a regular basis. For many people who are working to see the Gospel go forth among the Hui, transition is a big part of life. For starters, many of us are transitioning to a completely new culture, a new language, new food, sights and smells.
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.
When my family and I moved to East Asia, one of the biggest prayers that we prayed was to ask God to give us a family that we could share life with and that we would be able to share the gospel deeply in this relationship. In the past six months we have seen God open this door and we have been able to declare Jesus to this family. I first met this family eating at a local restaurant.
I had never seen Friday prayers at a mosque before. On our way back from a trip to another city, we decided to stop and watch as the men assembled for worship.
It was a cold, cloudy afternoon, eerily quiet, the square almost void of people. A few minutes passed as I wandered around in front of the intricately decorated mosque, looking at the buildings and attempting but not succeeding to read the characters written on the walls.
We had been in the city a little less than a month, and all I could say were a few simple phrases: “Nǐ hǎo” (hello), “Zàijiàn” (goodbye), and “Tīng bù dǒng” (I don’t understand). Needless to say, I felt pretty awkward just smiling at my neighbors as they asked me all sorts of questions, curious about my appearance and why I was there. I stood out like a sore thumb, so those questions came pretty regularly. Despite the language barrier, though, I was determined to befriend my neighbors.
Beijing’s Temple of Heaven park complex attracts many tourists each year with its buildings’ elaborate wooden architecture and meticulously kept grounds. Before the complex retired to tourism, however, it served as a place of Heaven worship, where for hundreds of years Chinese emperors performed the Border Sacrifice, during which a spotless animal was sacrifice and prayers made for protection and blessing.