From The Crescent to The Cross
SAN CLEMENTE, CA (ANS - April 10, 2015) -- I first met Maryama at one of our Hospital Christian Fellowship conferences - a slightly build woman with finely chiseled features. During a lunch break I learned she was born and raised in Somalia in a Muslim family. She now lived in the States and was a Hospice chaplain.
What I knew about Somalia you could put in a 1cc syringe and have space left over: It was a poor country on the east coast of Africa where women were treated badly and pirates brought terror to passing ships. That was about it.
Then, recently, I met Maryama again. She had just written a book about her life's journey and gave me a copy. "From the Crescent to the Cross - My Extraordinary Journey to the Heart of God" it was called. Intrigued, I started to read it.
Suddenly I saw the starry night sky in a beautiful, mountainous part of the African continent. Was this also Somalia?
Maryama writes: "I could smell the evening with all its fragrances; the well-fed ground after the rain, the sheep and the goats with their young in the stalls, the camels and cattle in their places. We were well fed, and my brothers and sisters and extended cousins pulled out our camp beds under the beautiful African sky. As we lay on our mats, talking and giggling, I noticed the glorious sky, with billions and billions of stars, glittering in the vast expanse, and shooting stars everywhere.
"This was one of the many times the thought of God entered my mind, but it was a kind of an awesome fear. I trembled because of the massiveness of the sky with its shooting stars streaking across the heavens. For a moment I thought that war was going on in the skies. Just then, one of my cousins called and my thoughts of God were left for another day."
As a Muslim child, Maryama really didn't know much about God personally. She did know the five pillars of Islam, but a relationship with God was not mentioned in the Koran. The Ten Commandments were are understood in Islam, except keeping the Sabbath on Friday. If you are good, you go to heaven. If you are bad you go to hell. Who decides whether one is good or bad? God does - end of story. So people are left not knowing what will become of them when they die.
As Maryama chronicles her life's journey, I was mesmerized and saddened by her trials and adventures, but also thrilled with her triumphs and discovery of what the Cross is all about. The adjustments of settling in a foreign country called America, the reaction by her family when she embraced Christianity. It was, and still is, a challenging journey.
In a foreword, Cheryl Brodersen, the wife of Maryama's pastor, wrote: "Too often we, as Christians fail to understand how a person could love the Islamic faith. In our lapse we fail to show the necessary sensitivity to those under the laws of Islam. But by understanding why Muslims adhere to their faith, we are better able to present them with the liberating gospel of salvation through Jesus Christ. Maryama, for me, also removed the veil of fear in presenting the gospel to a Muslim. In fact, she gave me a whole new perspective and enthusiasm for sharing the gospel with Muslim women."
I recently had lunch with Maryama, not the quick conversation typical during a conference break. This was a leisurely time of sharing. I admired her for writing such a clear and challenging story about her own life's journey - and most importantly, what God has done in her life.
I hope every reader gets a copy of this extraordinary book, "From the Crescent to the Cross" by Maryama Burger. It's informative and sensitively written for a wide audience. It is available on Amazon and wherever books are sold. ISBN 978-0-9863166-0-9
Photo captions: 1) Book cover. 2) Aubrey Beauchamp with Maryama. 3) Maryama holding a copy of her book.
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