Does being a Christian effect your everyday life, even when and where you eat lunch? That may seem like a silly question but it isn't. Every summer faithful Muslims observe a fast called "Ramadan". During this fast, you cannot eat food or drink water from sun up to sun down. If you happened to live in a Muslim dominated part of the world, like Zanzibar in Tanzania, it would be illegal to eat food or drink water during the day. This is true even for non-Muslims because Islam demands absolute submission of everyone and seeks total domination. Nobody living within Zanzibar, for instance, is supposed to be non-Muslim. If you fail to observe the fast, you come under suspicion of being an “infidel” and a threat to the order of the community. So, what would you do if you had become a Christian and no longer wanted to be identified as a Muslim? After all, being baptized in the name of Jesus means that you take on a new identity. Would you then pretend to be Muslim during Ramadan? Would you hide from public view? Or would you eat lunch like any other day? One Christian family in Zanzibar, this past June, did not want to be forced to observe this religious holiday and prayer vigil to Allah, so they cooked and ate lunch. All six family members were arrested. Two were released after a night or two in jail, while the other four were released a day or two later, all because they ate lunch.
In our country, we rightly celebrate Martin Luther King Jr. for his courageous stand in the face of oppression and injustice. But what do we think about these Tanzanian Christians? Do we condemn them as over-zealous, fanatics or celebrate them as unwavering followers of Jesus? It may be easy for us to condemn the Islamic position in Zanzibar when we stand across the ocean, thousands of miles away. But when the pressure is closer to home and within a cultural context that we understand, we tend to find more excuses for wavering. What do we do when the pressure is put on us to conform to positions that do not line up with our identity in Jesus? When our schools announce that they will be hosting "gay pride" days, do we participate, stay quiet, or stand up for the truth? At what point are we willing to pay a price for following Jesus? Are we willing to be seen with Him, even if He is eating lunch during Ramadan? Please pray for our brothers and sisters who suffer for their faithfulness to Jesus. If you would like to support church planters in Zanzibar, please visit: ZANZIBAR