Tales from Tanzania - O'Neil Family Blog

Though we have already been in Tanzania for one year, this is a journal of our time at Haven of Peace Academy in Dar es Salaam. Karibu sana.

October 19, 2006


This month is Ramadan. This is the month that all Muslims around the world fast from sun up until sundown. It is part of the five pillars of their faith and a requirement to get to heaven. Here in Dar es Salaam, the prayer call goes off earlier than normal - about 4:30am instead of 5:30am. Muslim households will rise for a breakfast before sunrise. They will fast from all food and drink until sundown when they will gather to partake of another meal. Many of the older students at HOPAC (and even some as young as Benjamin)are fasting during Ramadan. They will abstain from eating lunch and playing in sports due to the heat and need for water, but otherwise attend school as usual.

Some of the missionaries that have been here for long say that Ramadan is a time of increased spiritual tension and struggles for the Christians here. As I began to think about why this is so, I realized that Satan is in his glory during this month. He has reared his ugly head and accomplished his goal. He has managed to get a large portion of mankind (more than one billion people) concentrating on pleasing God through their own attempts - doing it their way. The same coniving lie that he told in the garden. It has been a problem for mankind throughout time and across religions - including the Christian religion - trying to win God’s favor and approval through our own attempts at making ourselves good. We really cannot point the condemning finger at Muslims for their outward piety for though most of us have never fasted for an entire month, we must all admit that we have made our own attempts at one time or another to look good in God’s eyes - to do something to put us in a better standing with God. Perhaps it was teaching that Sunday School class, or joining along with some church function, or some other religious act. We have all done it. The difference hopefully is that when it is all said and done, there is a gnawing feeling inside which just knows that we are really no better off - still just as covered with sin and darkness as before. As Christians, this is exactly when the Holy Spirit continually moves in and reminds that we cannot do anything about this dilema on our own. Only Christ provides the out, the washing, and the forgiveness we need. We are, thankfully, pointed right back to Christ and his mercy without merit.

Pray for Muslims around the world this month as they fast. Pray that there would be acknowledgement of the futility of religious acts to save. And mostly, pray that Christ’s mercy would be revealed.