Marriage changes everything

19 Jan, 2015 | Arabian Peninsula
Nicole James
Colorful shoes enliven the markets in the UAE.    
Photo by Kathryn Berry
Joy’s Arab friends wondered why she waited so long to get married. “Almost 40! You are old!” they exclaimed. Even so, they still considered her a girl. In the Gulf country where she lives, relational status matters more than age. “When you get married, you’re a woman,” she explained.

A worker in the Arabian Peninsula (AP), Joy* spent several years in ministry on the field as a single woman. Now, recently married, she finds that her local friends approach her totally differently. Not only do they talk about new topics, but they also open up more about their struggles.

In return, Joy has also shared her long journey to marriage with other women, telling them how she trusted God for the right husband.

“It really didn’t bother me that I wasn’t married, but I didn’t want to marry the wrong man,” she explains. Her local friends always understand and agree; many are unhappily married or share their husband with another wife.

Recently, Joy visited Mira*, her old landlady, with a couple other friends. As the women were walking out to the car afterwards, Mira mentioned how much the Arab men bother the women.

“We had known her for five years, but she had never talked to us about these things…the anger she has towards her own nation’s men because they are not honourable,” Joy recalled. “We got a different insight.”

It takes two

As a couple, Joy and her husband, Ernest*, have also been able to share God’s sovereignty with many of their Muslim friends. After they returned to the AP from their honeymoon, Joy and Ernest were invited for a celebratory dinner to the home of one of their acquaintances, Hassan*, a Muslim from North Africa.

According to culture, Joy and Ernest returned the invitation. Right away, Hassan wanted to know their story. “How did you meet? How did you work it all out?”

Their response was simple. Joy said, “We talked about God’s purposes in our lives… How God brought my husband from [our home country] to the AP. How we could meet each other there. How everything worked out.”

“This is God’s divine appointment for you,” Hassan replied.

“Yes, God has our lives in His hands, and He works out the plans for our lives,” Joy and Ernest agreed.

The couple has also explained the Biblical meaning of the marriage covenant with many of their friends: “We got married before the eyes of God.”

One woman, one man

Ernest, too, has had opportunities to share truth at work. Many of his colleagues visit one of the country’s largest cities on a regular basis to enjoy the freedom of pubs and meeting “foreign women”. When they invited Ernest, he refused.

“Why do you go home after work? Why would you go home to be with your wife? Don’t you have a girlfriend?” they asked.

“No, it’s shameful to have a girlfriend,” he replied. “I love my wife. We love each other, and we’re faithful to one another.”

Nonetheless, as his colleagues continued to pester Ernest, wondering why he wasn’t interested in visiting women in prostitution, he decided to get Joy’s opinion. “Just ask them if they would allow their sisters to go along with them,” she told him.

The next time his colleagues asked, Ernest was ready. “Would you allow your sisters to go?” he carefully questioned.

“No, of course not!” they responded.

Then, he asked another question: “Do you want a virgin wife?”

“Yes, we do,” they replied.

“Don’t you think your fiancées want virgin husbands?” he returned. Silence filled the room. None of the men had thought about their future wives that way before.

A while later, Ernest’s colleagues asked him again to join them on their trip into the city. This time, one of the Arab men spoke up. “You know, what we do is not right,” he said.

At that point, Ernest realised perhaps he was there for that one man. Just as Jesus told the story about the shepherd seeking his one lost sheep, so sharing truth with just one man could impact his eternity.

“God is really at work [in the Arabian Peninsula],” Joy said. “We can never generate the opportunities. God does that. We just have to be available to share.”

Pray that God will raise up expatriate believers to move to the Arabian Peninsula and share with Arabs in their workplaces. Pray for locals to accept the Lord and to join together for fellowship. Pray against the human trafficking and modern-day slavery present in the Arabian Peninsula.

*Name changed

Nicole James is a freelance journalist, ESL teacher and adventurer. A communications intern for OM MENA, she’s passionate about publishing the stories of God’s works among the nations, telling people about the wonderful things He is doing in the world.

Credit: Nicole James · © 2015 OM International This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

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