McClenahens to Mozambique
"…That they may have life, and have it to the full." John 10:10

Ramadani

July 21, 2015 by rkmcclenahen

Well, we’ve reached the end of Ramadan, the Islamic month of fasting. Finally we will be free of the question we most received from nearly everyone this last month (friend or stranger), “Are you fasting?” “Mwan-kufunga?” We ventured several different answers to this question throughout the month, from answering that we were not physically able, because of Rusty’s diabetes and my nursing Clara, to explaining some of what Jesus teaches us about fasting, but in most cases it made no difference to the hearer. In their eyes we were still considered unholy regardless of our reasoning. But it has been a good way to tell many people that we don’t usually talk to that we are followers of Christ. The fact that we did not fast for Ramadan, while it may have been shocking, also showed that we are different from our Muslim neighbors.

Although many looked down on us for not fasting, it seems within our team we won the popularity contest among our neighbors, measured by the amount of food we received at the evening meal to break fast at sundown, called “futari.” Our neighbor straight across from us, who we’ve mentioned before, did not miss one night of sending us food during the whole month!!! And not just some food, entire meals, three or four containers full, plus 2 mugs of a warm corn-based drink called “massaza.” AND we received food from other families on occasion as well! We think we have tried nearly every Mwani dish by now!

To our surprise, this time of fasting actually seemed to revolve very much around food compared to other times of the year. Even though the Mwani fast from sun up until sun down, both food and drink, during the night they actually enjoy 3 meal times, which also include special foods which they don’t normally prepare on an every day basis. More than ever, women have been busy during the day shopping and cooking, preparing for evening feast times, and preparing enough also to send some to different neighbors. We also learned first hand about another tradition that goes hand in hand with night time meals, a musical performance called “dako.” We were woken up one night about 1:00am by many men outside our house in the street singing “Allah, Allah, Allah” over and over while banging spoons on metal pipes loudly and in rhythm! It was pretty shocking, but thankfully lasted only about 10 minutes, just long enough to rouse Clara from her slumber, though Amelia and Owen were not bothered.

As a team, we have been praying that God would do big things during this Islamic month dedicated to prayer and fasting. Where many Americans may think it a dangerous time to broach the subject of the gospel, it has actually proven to be a great climate for us to share about our beliefs. People are focused on God more than usual, with deed-based religion in mind, and there have been many open doors for conversation. This is where we would like to ask for renewed and redoubled prayers over souls here being won to Christ.

During this month, our teammate Grace also spent 2 weeks in a conference in South Africa, learning about a new church planting strategy known as T4T (Training for Trainers). This is a new direction that AIM is heading in, less focused on friendship evangelism, which takes a large time investment with mostly small returns for the kingdom, and more focused on getting to the gospel first and focusing more on evangelism in a strategic way. After her return to Pakiti just about 2 weeks ago, she and her husband, Victor, actually experienced one man turning to Christ just the way T4T says it should work. In these last few days, he has confessed to believe in Christ, has learned to retell the gospel story, has told 5 people that story and about his decision, has asked them if they also want to be followers, and has professed a desire to be baptized! Another woman who they have told God Stories with for a long time now also made a decision to follow Christ, and they are starting down the road with her to see her share her faith with 5 more people. We are so excited that God is moving! Rusty and I, along with Grace at times, have also seen my old language helper and her family continue to be very interested in the stories we have been telling them over the last couple of months. Next week we will be on to the death and resurrection of Christ and will also make a call for commitment and discipleship.

We ask that you please pray for these souls, and the many others that God is calling to Himself here in our neighborhood of Pakiti! It is difficult for us at times to know whether a person is genuine in their confession/ belief or if indeed they actually understand fully, especially because of our limited language. And it is actually pretty difficult for Rusty and me to actually share the gospel message right now because we are still learning the language necessary. Pray for the gospel to be communicated clearly and powerfully. Pray for genuine decisions for Christ that produce fruit and last. Please pray about the persecution and hard times that will come their way, as the entirety of the Mwani community is currently Muslim. Pray for the families of believers to come to Christ and for those separate families who believe to come together organically into a “church” body of believers who can offer each other support and see the power of God move among them. Pray as God leads you, and above all that His kingdom will come and His will be done. We know that we will only be here another 4 ½ months, so we pray that we can have the strength, energy, boldness, and faith to make every day count, even when we are exhausted, discouraged, annoyed, or “busy.” Thank you for joining us in laboring for this harvest!

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