I am not in Kansas anymore- ok, I have never lived in Kansas but that is beside the point. When we moved to Gondor we knew it would be different. A different standard of living. Different people would have different ideas. We had been through orientation. I had read most of the articles in the mission book Perspectives. We were ready. We arrived, we struggled to learn the language, and we made friends. These friends gave us windows into another world. I traveled extensively throughout Gondor doing disaster response and preparedness. I knew village life. I understood customs and traditions. I can make jokes and often amaze my friends with how much I know about how they think and what they care about.
Two years ago I was talking to a friend and realized I knew exactly nothing about what it meant to be a citizen of Gondor, a devout muslim, or a helpless person in a hostile spiritual world. I had asked my friend to share his testimony. To the best of my recollection this is the story that he told me in my office. Glorfindal is a highly intellectual young man who is very inteligent and thoughtful. He is not easily deceived and is not highly emotional.
Strider: So, tell me Glorfindal, how did you come to faith?
Glorfindal: When I was a teenager I was a very religious person. Our house as you know is right above the home of a famous Sufi mystic. Every Saturday people come from all over to pray around the tree in the yard there. People tie ribbons to the tree and circle the tree on their knees to get a blessing. Some are so desperate they even eat the dirt under the tree.
Strider: A Sufi mystic?
Glorfindal: Yeah, you know almost every area in our country has one. Respected men lived fifty or one hundred or even three or four hundred years ago in an area. They are studied and prayed to in the villages. If someone has a problem they are the ones to go to for help.
Strider: Not Mohammed?
Glorfindal: Of course not! No one ever mentions Mohammed. These holy men are the powers in their given areas. Anyway, like I was saying, I grew up very religious because my grandmother was always telling us when we sat or laid down not to point our feet to Hoji's house because that would be disrespectful. And since our house was on the road that the Jin (mischievious spirits similar to but not the same as our angels) traveled on we had to sleep in a certain way because- as you know- it isn't nice for you or for them for them to have to step over you when you are sleeping.
Strider: What!? The road that the jin travel.....
Glorfindal: Yeah you know, the jin are always traveling around and I wanted to study to be able to speak to the dead. My father tried to apprentice me to a mullah but he wanted too much money so I studied on my own until we could save up some. It was at this time- I was about 16- when I began to have terrible headaches. Also at this time I began seeing a strange woman with wild blonde hair who would tell me things. No one else could see her. One day my brothers and I were with my dad out in the fields and I saw the jin coming and I warned them to run away.
Strider: Speak to the dead? Uh....
Glorfindal: Yeah, so my dad took me to see the Mullah to do something about my headaches. He sacrificed a few chickens but the headaches became worse. Then they put me in the circle of sticks- you know how they do- and the sticks have multicolored bands on them and then they sacrificed a goat and dumped the blood over my head.
Strider: (starting to recover) So, uh, with all that blood dumped over your head did that make you sensitive to hearing about Jesus' shed blood for you?
Glorfindal: No, not at all. A friend of ours shared many truths about Jesus at that time but there was a voice in my ear refuting all the things he had to say.
Strider: Then how did you become a follower of Jesus?
Glorfindal: Well, the headaches got worse and worse and were really unbearable so I was taking a nap one day when there was a banging on my door. I do not know if I was still asleep or awake but three men were fighting to get in my door but because they each wanted to get in first none of them could fit. The one in the middle was very calm as the the men on either side struggled to get in. He said to me, 'Do you want me to make these other guys go away?' Then I came to myself and I was alone. I knew that the man in the middle was Jesus.
Strider: Then what happened?
Glorfindal: I was out with my brother by the shed and I had a second vision. (I can't remember the vision exactly so I will just tell you that it was similar to the first one but it was much scarier).
Strider: So, after the second vision you gave your life to Jesus?
Glorfindal: That's right. I called out in Jesus name and since that moment I have never seen another jin or that woman. I can sleep in my house any way that I want!
I was dumbstruck. How could I have lived here for seven years and not known where I was. I am still learning where these people live. It is critical to understand this because we can not share the Good News with them if we do not know what for them constitutes good news. In the West we talk a lot about guilt and forgiveness. This has meaning for Glorfindal but of much more importance is the fact that Jesus can protect him from the very dangerous world around him. Do you really know where you live?