Fasting And Suffering
Flies swarmed inside Miriam’s hut where they could escape the afternoon heat of the African sun. Several women sat admiring Miriam’s newborn baby, fat and healthy-looking.
Sixteen-year-old Karia silently slipped into the hut. The fourth wife of a strict Muslim, she wore the traditional blue dress that covered her from head to foot. Her own baby was tied to her back. I wondered how she endured the 110 degrees (41C) heat. Karia collapsed onto a straw mattress on the floor. She was so young to feel so tired!
It was the Muslim holy month, when no faithful Muslim could eat or drink during daylight hours. They eat and drink only before sunrise or after sunset. And while men cut back on their work during this time, the women work as hard as ever, carrying loads of firewood home on their heads, carrying water from the well, washing clothes in the river, pounding rice and preparing meals. And Karia was nursing her baby as well, yet, even though it was the hottest time of the year, during this month she was not even allowed to swallow her own saliva, let alone take a drink of water during the day! She told me she felt weak and dizzy.
My heart ached for Karia. She looked pale, and moved slowly, like a woman far older than her years. But her life was little different from that of other women here in West Africa.
At last the month-long fast ends. The villagers gather for a mass prayer, followed by feasting.
We pray that someday these people will accept the good news of Jesus love, and be freed from the beliefs and rituals that bind them.
Slowly people are being introduced to Jesus. One young man borrowed a cassette tape from us and played it on his tape deck to over 40 listening friends. They’ve asked for more! The people love visual aids—pictures and felts—and we use all we can to tell of God’s love. The Holy Spirit is working on hearts to open them to receive the message of freedom in Christ.