Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Language, Islam, and Potatoes...

The end of Day Four. It has been an interesting day in many ways. The group has certainly become more cohesive and I think we are in the process of making some really good friends. The teaching is excellent, the food is good, the fellowship is sweet, but I think in years to come, we will all look back to this time with great fondness as we bring to mind names and faces of those we came to know at IMPACT.

We learned the principles of learning language today. We considered the difficulties in adult language learning, examined the ideal components of a good language learning program, investigated the advantages of learning like a child, and got to practice learning vocabulary (in Hindi) using objects and Total Physical Response.

We then looked at the World View of Islam. The instructor spoke on various tenets of the Islamic religion, various traditions and taboos that would have a negative impact on any Christian ministry to Muslims, and identified aspects of folk Islam. This in-class teaching was followed by a visit to a local mosque during the noon day time of prayer.  For many this was the first time inside a mosque, so we prayed earnestly before leaving the church and before entering the mosque.

We were received warmly and Imam Aslam was very courteous and friendly. However, it soon became obvious that he was purposefully putting on the best face of Islam and avoiding anything that might be construed as offensive. When the call to prayer was sounded, we were left alone to observe. As they prayed, so did I and I was deeply moved as I considered the men assembled before me.  So sincere, but so sincerely misled. The sense of lostness was so profound at one point that I found myself moved to tears. Ah, how the heart of the one true God must be breaking for them, I thought...and for a brief moment, He allowed me to feel that pain.

We returned to debrief and to discuss bridges and barriers...but I could not get the image of the men praying out of my mind. This is all they have. There is no relationship with their god...only their faith and their duty. There is no assurance of salvation...only an empty hope that their god will choose to be merciful in the end...but if, not...well, insha'Allah. Sad...profoundly sad.

We ended the day with a bit of mirth...well, actually a lot of it. Another image I don't think I will forget easily is that of grown men and women (and children, of course) trying to pick up a potato from off a chair and then carry it between their legs to a plastic receptacle on the other end of a small parking lot and to deposit the offensive looking object in it. The rest of the games were a piece of cake and in the end the children had a blast.

But now...it is time for rest and quiet.

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