From our kitchen window, there’s a valley stretching just beyond the outskirts of the large Asian city we live in. It’s more like a village than a suburb, with simple houses lining dirt streets. Many of the people who live in the valley belong to a Muslim tribe called the Musuh, which in one local language means “the enemies.”
For years, our team has prayed for opportunities to share the Gospel with people from the Musuh tribe. We’ve walked along their streets and have tried introducing ourselves to men and women there. But they are a close-knit community of people who show little interest in outsiders. Never once did we find ourselves welcomed among them.
And so, during Ramadan, the Islamic month of fasting, our team decided to hold a fast of our own and to pray for open doors and opportunities to share Christ with them.
As my husband Wei and I fasted, we felt desperate. We were struggling with language learning. Many of our closest local friends had recently moved away, and we had had little success in building new friendships. We were also homeschooling our two children, which some days felt more like trying to manage a three-ring circus.
We trudged through the first two weeks of our fast.
Then, we had a breakthrough, brought about by an unlikely member of our household—Hedgie, our beloved pet hedgehog.
Hedgehogs are native to this area. When we found ours last spring, the poor critter was on the brink of death. Our children convinced us to take it home, where we began nursing him back to health. We fed Hedgie cat food, and even though it wasn’t his natural diet, he did just fine eating it.
One day, our family went out to explore the city’s old fort surrounded by gardens. It was hot, and there were only a few local families there since it was the middle of Ramadan.
Then, while wandering a garden path, our kids came across a millipede. “A fresh meal for Hedgie!” they said excitedly, crouching down to take a closer look.
We searched for a container to capture the millipede. Wei grabbed one of our near empty water bottles and took the cap off to gulp down the remaining water. Then he stopped himself, remembering that it was Ramadan. During the daytime fast, it would have been insensitive to eat or drink in front of the Muslim families around us.
He quickly emptied the water into another bottle and bent down to scoop up the millipede. With Hedgie’s next meal secured, we looked up and discovered that this entire time, an amused policeman had been watching our antics. The man laughed as we explained that the millipede was for our pet hedgehog. His children would love having a pet hedgehog, he replied. Our kids offered to bring Hedgie over to the officer’s house so his kids could play with him.
As we continued chatting, we learned that Taufik, the officer, belonged to the Musuh tribe and lived near us in the valley we had long been praying for. Thanks to Hedgie, we had made an acquaintance in the valley of enemies!
We quickly became friends with Taufik. Our children play soccer together. We share meals in each other’s homes. Taufik’s wife, a conservative woman covered in black from head to toe, is my new language teacher. She’s also taught me how to make special Ramadan treats. When Wei was traveling for a week, Taufik’s family watched out for me and the children. This is truly the sort of family we’ve been praying to meet.
Recently, Taufik invited us to a family wedding. Several hundred people from the Musuh tribe were there. They seated us in places of honor near the front of the room. And since then, it’s as if we’ve become friends with the entire tribe. Everyone now knows who we are.
With these new friendships have come opportunities to sow the Word. Taufik and several others in the tribe are reading the Bible with us and are being drawn to Jesus Christ. Even Taufik’s brother, a respected Islamic leader among the Musuh, is open to the Good News. If he embraces the Savior, others in the community will likely follow in his footsteps.
We had prayed for the Musuh people for so long without ever making any significant contacts. But meeting Taufik has opened up many more relationships within the tribe. Thanks to Hedgie, the entire valley of enemies knows who we are and calls us friends.
And as we sow the Word among them, we pray that the entire tribe will accept it and bear fruit for the Kingdom.
But those that were sown on the good soil are the ones who hear the word and accept it and bear fruit, thirtyfold and sixtyfold and a hundredfold. (Mark 4:20)
**This account comes from a long-term worker. Names and places have been changed for security.**