International (MNN) — Ramadan – a holy month of fasting observed by millions of Muslims worldwide – is more than halfway over.
For many believers from a Muslim background (BMBs), Ramadan is a hallmark of their former life. As explained here by Prayercast, fasting (sawm) practiced during this annual observance is the fourth pillar of Islam:
Ramadan is a focused time of drawing closer to Allah – to let the hunger pangs serve as reminders of a need for God. It is also a time of “reformation” (working hard not to lie or do bad deeds) and “rewards” (earning extra merits and favors).
Ramadan also reminds BMBs like Neda* that loved ones lack the freedom and truth they have through Christ. “I [am] the only Christian in my family,” she says.
“It’s very hard to open up and speak the truth with them. But, I do it when the Lord gives me that opportunity to share about Him and the Gospel.”
Neda shared some of her story with MNN last week, recalling her parents’ strict adherence to Islam. To avoid family shame, Neda’s parents insisted that she and her siblings obey Islam’s tenants as well. More about the role of shame in Islam here.
Where BMBs find hope
As noted here and here, BMBs experience painful consequences when they become Christ-followers. Conversion carries a mark of shame; as such, believers from a Muslim background become social lepers. Relationships and friendships crumble, and parents even reject their own children.
Many Muslim families live in honor-shame cultures, and converting to Christianity means rejecting Islam. BMBs struggle to find a place in societies that embrace and endorse Islam. Some nations even attach a death sentence to conversion.
Neda admits, “I do have to be very careful [about] whom I share [my faith] with because there are a lot of Islamic folks out there… that are very radical,… that are diehard and will do anything in their power to shut the mouth of the person who speaks against Islam.”
She follows the Lord’s leading whenever He provides the opportunity to talk about Him. Neda obeys what God places on her heart, and then she trusts Him to take care of the rest.
“Ultimately, the Lord will be the one that’s going to come in and grow that seed… that I’ve planted with my family.”
Check out Prayercast’s “Love Muslims” videos here, and pray for the Muslim world.
“[Pray] for people, for our brothers and sisters… that are bound [by] the chains of Islam,” Neda requests. “I want [people] to just fervently pray for release from the strongholds of the enemy that [have] bound the Muslim nation.”
*Name changed for security purposes.
Header image courtesy of “Love Muslims”/Prayercast.