“You know the difference between Christians and Muslims, right?” I looked over at my last patient of the day, and paused mid-step in the hallway between ABC’s treatment room and the pharmacy. We’re in the midst of Ramadan’s month of fasting, and it seems Christians and Muslims alike in Malawi are thinking more about their spirituality during this time. Greg has already had 3 similar conversations this week, and everyone in this city regardless of religion hears the frequent calls to prayer which seem more notable these days, especially that first one at 4 am. I wasn’t in a rush this afternoon, so I leaned against the wall and cracked a half-smile that my patient would never see through my medical mask. “I’m pretty sure that we would answer that question differently,” I began, and was quickly met with his follow-up. “We Muslims believe in only one God,” he explained, “while you Christians believe in three – which you call the Trinity.” Just as I had expected, our answers were quite different. As our light-hearted, mostly open-minded, after-hours hallway conversation continued, I wondered what the looks from the nurses and other patients meant – were they surprised to hear the hallway of African Bible College’s clinic echoing with a conversation containing equal parts praise for the Quran and commentary from Christian tradition? Were they smiling that Dr. Miller, returned after two years, not only offers prayers at the end of each consultation, like her mentor before her, but also engages in theological discussions at the end of a workday?
Our conversation paralleled some themes from Greg’s class this week, and even some from a sermon we attended this weekend – Do Christians believe that they do wrong at all? Do they need to ask for forgiveness if they are already forgiven? What does that mean for how we live our daily lives on this earth? I think that we as Christians could learn a lot from the discipline, devout prayers, charity, and contrition of our Muslim brothers and sisters during this Ramadan season. And hopefully we can share answers for the hope that we have through lives which are consistent with the transformation we profess.
As Greg and I settle into a routine in Lilongwe, we have been blessed to rekindle many friendships and embrace new opportunities. We are planning a multi-day Community Health Evangelism training in Ngwangwa village focused on stewardship and agriculture. We have been greatly impacted by a visit to Malawi’s Dzaleka refugee camp and are learning more about whether we can assist with some of the deep needs there. And there are some opportunities with the Church of the Nazarene which we are considering and praying about. It is such an incredible opportunity to have a fresh start with flexible timing for ministry in a place where our roots run deep. This month please join us in prayer that we can be faithful with this new beginning:
- For divine appointments during this Ramadan season
- For an informational visit with refugee camp leadership next week
- For the village training currently planned for April 28-30
Thank you for your continued encouragement and support,
- Greg and Christina