On a recent trip to the Middle East, Brother Andrew writes how God gave his good friend Al Janssen (both from the Open Doors Christian Ministry) a look into the heart of a devout Muslim.
‘We were eating dinner with my friend,’ wrote Brother Andrew, ‘a scholarly Muslim leader who had led several groups on the Hajj; the pilgrimage to Mecca that every Muslim is required to do at least once in his lifetime. We asked our Muslim friend to teach us what was required on the Hajj. Our friend explained all of the preparations before the trip: the pilgrim must ask for forgiveness of anyone he has offended, he must pay off all his debts and memorise numerous verses from the Quran.’
Brother Andrew went on to say, ‘Our Muslim friend described the various ceremonies one does on the pilgrimage: everyone wears a white robe, circles the Kaaba, stones the devil and offers an animal sacrifice. When our friend had finished his explanation he said that a pilgrim must do all these things precisely and with the right heart attitude or else the pilgrimage is a failure. If at any point in time, explained the Muslim Scholar, a pilgrim slips in his devotion, he might as well stop there and head home; the Hajj is over for that person!’
Knowing that millions of pilgrims are crowded together for five days, Brother Andrew asked, ‘You mean to say that if a man is jostled and gets angry, saying something like, “Get out of my way you fool……?”’
The Muslim Scholar sadly shook his head, ‘Yes, he has failed. The pilgrimage is over!’
Brother Andrew writes, ‘It was at this point that my friend Al began to feel for the very first time, a deep compassion for Muslims who try so hard to please their god Allah by their efforts; but have no comprehension of grace offered by a compassionate God through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ.’
Brother Andrew completed his thoughts by saying, ‘Without truth there can be no real compassion. Whether it’s dealing with personal or family matters, disputes among friends or associates, national or international issues or simply concerns for those who do not yet know our Lord Jesus Christ; compassion must be the starting point in everything we do.’
Can I encourage us all here in Tenterfield to follow Brother Andrew’s advice and do nothing unless we’re able to start with a compassionate heart!