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…My God Story – Beth – The Scarf

May 12, 2009

[BEACH EVANGELISM OUTREACH ON SATURDAY, DECEMBER 13, 2008]

I stumble out of bed at 6:45am. After a long work week and a late night at Friday Bible study, I feel beat. Do I really need to go to this Beach Evangelism meeting at 7:30 this morning? I am sure I won’t be missed. They have hundreds of volunteers every time. It’s sometimes overflowing. But then it’s a matter of principle. I gave my word and I need to honor it. But I could really use a good sleep-in. Yet who knows what the Lord has planned to do through me today out there. Can you do it while I am in bed, Lord? Oh, alright, I guess not. I better scramble and leave then.

I had heard the weather reports. It is supposed to be cold. I grab my red-hooded sweater, throw my jeans and sneakers on, and run around the apartment trying to multi-task. I still feel cool, even with my sweater on, so I run back to the closet looking for a scarf to wrap around my neck. One stood out – an old red and white scarf that a friend of mine gave me more than ten years ago. I have never put it on. But it matches the sweater.

This scarf is actually a man’s head shawl worn by Muslims in the Middle East. It is a form of religious attire. Back in the 90’s it was fashionable for women to wear these shawls as scarves, but I never put it on because I didn’t want to offend anyone or appear to be making a religious statement for want of making a fashion one. However, because I am in a hurry, I grab this scarf, wrap it around my neck, and run out. I get to church, find my team, pray, and head to the beach. The day is turning out to be not so ideal for beach evangelism. It is cold, breezy, and cloudy.

I choose to go with the Hillsboro Beach group even though it is a half hour farther away from my home than Fort Lauderdale Beach where the other team is going. The Hillsboro team has fewer volunteers and I want to see Hillsboro Beach.

Being the reserved type myself and because I do better with conversational and relational sharing of my faith, I start to stroll around and silently pray, “Lord, who out here is seeking You?” A few of us chat as a guy parks his red car right in front of us and slowly strolls to the gazebo next to us. A member of our team offers him a Christmas Eve invitation flyer, and he takes it. But then he looks at me and points to the scarf and says something I can’t hear. Smiling, he repeats it with a Middle Eastern accent, “Where did you get that scarf?” Uh-oh!

I tell him how I got it and ask if he is from the Middle East. He says he is from Jordan. So I quickly add, “I know it is worn by men and it’s supposed to be on the head not around the neck, right?” He smiles and nods and moves closer. So we ask his name. “Amer”, he says. He unsuccessfully tries to teach us the Arabic pronunciation of his name. I can tell he really wants to talk.

So we invite him to come to the Christmas Eve service at Calvary (Chapel) but we quickly add that we are inviting him to come to Jesus, not just the service. He tells us that he is a Muslim but open to all religions. “everyone is supposed to do good,” he adds confidently. He tells us about the parable of the mean guy who led a mean-spirited life, but because he gave his last bottle of water to this thirsty dog, he went to heaven. So I ask, “But how much good is good enough?” He tells us you need to observe the five rules (pillars) of Islam but that you can’t be certain that you are going to heaven. You just need to try to do good as much as you can.

We tell him about Jesus dying for him, and for us – for Muslims, Christians, and Hindus alike. After almost 20 minutes of talking, I ask him if we can pray for him. And the whole group holds hands and does. It feels like Amer is not ready to leave. He is still talking to Sandra when I bless him again, make him promise to come to one of the Christmas Eve services, and leave. Amer is clearly searching. And the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob is calling out to him by name. On this day, it is by way of a scarf. I am blessed to have been available. We planted seeds. Others will come who will water. And still others will bring the harvest. I pray that I will see Amer in heaven.

source: Calvary Chapel Ft. Lauderdale

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