What Would You Say?

March 5, 2010

I got a call a couple of days ago from Africa. 

My Dad had just finished having lunch with a member of the Sudanese Parliament and a Presidential candidate.  They noticed him, being a white man in a hotel restaurant and invited him to their table.

Wow.

We had planned and discussed and prayed over the message that the mission to Africa would bring.  We had talked about the village chiefs and peasants he would speak with.  We hadn’t planned on him meeting these fellows. 

What would you say, if you had the ear of the President?  Or someone who was going to be elected President? 
After a discussion about his business as a missionary and the message of Jesus, my Dad brought another message to these guys, as we are also interested in increasing Sudanese education.  He spoke very firmly but respectfully with them, saying the Sudanese democracy will fail if the population remains illiterate.

The Sudanese are generally a somewhat soft-spoken people.  His impression was that they were not used to being spoken to so boldly.  Leave it to my old man to get up in a foreign lawmaker’s grill and tell it to him like it is.  Joyce Meyer couldn’t have done it better.

What if you had an appointment with a powerful Muslim cleric?  How would you explain to him the message of Christ?

We had planned for that, as there are thousands of Muslims in Sudan.  I’ll share it with you.

The Muslims say that God has a hundred names.  They’re names like Creator, Faithful, or Hearer of Prayer.  They have a list of the names, which they recite with their prayer beads.  If you didn’t know they were being attributed to Allah, you’d probably think the Muslims were talking to the Christian God.

The names the Muslims memorize for God are remarkably close to the ways we think of our God.  Except we place a great emphasis on God’s love.  We even say God is love.  We’d say that’s God’s biggest and most important characteristic.  Muslims don’t say that.  Just one name for Allah is The Loving One.  One name out of a hundred mentions that Allah loves.  It’s rather unspecific about who Allah loves or how much Allah loves.  Saying that the Christian God is love seems more assuring.

But it’s actually not a hundred names the Muslims know.  It’s 99.  They say there is one hidden name of God, which only the camel knows. 

So I imagined that if I were invited to sit with a Muslim cleric, I might say I’ve come to tell him what the camel knows.  The hundreth name of God is love.

That may be a terrible opener.  But it may have sounded like a terrible idea to sit down with a man running for President of Sudan and tell him his democracy is going to fail.

If you could have the ear of anyone in the world, who would you talk to?
The President?
The Prime Minister?
Would you travel across the world to deliver an important message?
Or would you try to reach someone very close to you?
I have a feeling we each have important messages that need to be delivered.
Not just to Presidents, but estranged spouses and wayward children, or friends in need.
What would you say?