Of Fairies, Mummies, and Jesus. [Oh My!]

Some of the girls that came to our Halloween party.

And the conversation went something like this:

Awa: What are American traditions on Halloween?

Me: Well, we all dress up in costumes and ask our neighbors for candy.

Awa: Why?

Me: …*cricket

With some of my favorites! From left to right: Miriam, Benedicte, Awa and Awa.


Dear. Goodness. Have any of us ever actually thought about that? I hadn’t the foggiest idea! It threw me into a bit of a panic-I mean, how many other activities do I mindlessly engage in without even the most fleeting thought as to why? And so I started contemplating other absurd traditions that we stoutly cling to as Americans. Let’s talk about hot dogs, for one.  Who on earth woke up one day and decided that the quintessential American food-the signature flourish at Fourth of July picnics and baseball games from sea to shining sea-ought to be processed pig parts in a clear, edible casing?

Delish. No wonder the French think we’re Neanderthals.

And while we’re on a roll, when did we start wishing on blown out birthday candles? Why do I hang a giant sock over my fireplace for a morbidly obese man to creep in and fill with toothpaste and Starbucks gift cards?

Why do I throw my money into small bodies of water at the mall? And why do I habitually lie about the color of my underwear every St. Patrick’s day?

 And TEETH under my pillow? I put my OLD, DEAD TEETH under my HEAD for a miniature, winged fairy to come collect for

Our TP mummy-making contest. ...my team did not win.


…someone really ought to teach the poor thing a marketable skill and get her out of the tooth-hawking business.

It was with a slightly bemused stammer that I endeavored to explain our quirky little Halloween traditions yesterday to a group of Senegalese students that couldn’t figure out quite what to make of the fact that I still dress up every year.

Both thought provoking and wildly entertaining.

Somehow, everything connects back to Jesus-every little thing-and Halloween is no exception. One of the most

Our hot-mess mummies.

 exciting pieces of my job is discovering innovative ways to help students understand that they were created for Jesus-that there is a heart-longing for Him that can be satisfied by no created thing.  It’s beautiful. In a concerted effort to get to the gospel in a fresh, creative way, my team and I threw a “traditional American Halloween party” yesterday.  Given the fact that we are the only Americans that most of our students know, we get to define the finer points of American culture in whatever manner we deem appropriate. [Thus, our students believe that Americans sit around and talk about Jesus at every party they have. ;)]  In light of the unfortunate reality that Target and Harris Teeter are very far away indeed, our “traditional” fete consisted of some fun-sized Snickers bars [Ben and I later concluded that there is nothing even vaguely “fun” about “fun-sized” candy], a pink toilet paper mummy wrapping contest, and a discussion about fear, power and Jesus.  


Fear proved to be a captivating topic. Imagine for a brief moment, that you’re a Muslim. You wake up at five AM every early morning to answer the first of five calls to prayer that resound through your city throughout  the day-carefully going through a ritual washing process in a fearful attempt to cleanse yourself before you cautiously kneel on your worn prayer rug. Quietly, you begin to murmur the familiar Arabic prayers that are as much a part of you as your very name-echoes of your culture, your family.  You press your forehead to the ground and nervously, timidly approach a distant god that may or may not be listening. Muslims believe that Allah sits on top of “seven heavens”-and so physically as well as emotionally, Allah is far, far from them.  There is no assurance as to what will happen to them when they die. Everything is left up to the “divine and merciful will of Allah”-so no matter how good you are, how many times you pray, whether or not you scrape together enough money to make the coveted pilgrimage to Mecca-…you could do everything right, but Allah might still send you to hell.


To be a Muslim is to be haunted by disabling, suffocating fear.  A continual, gnawing, ever-growing hopeless dread that you have not done enough.

Yesterday, a Congolese man named Severy stood up in front of twenty five spellbound students and talked about the fear that they are so intimately acquainted with-and the God that is passionately pursuing their hearts with whom they are not.  Sev explained that before he decided to walk with Jesus, he’d been rendered absolutely powerless by his own sin. I watched the eyes around me light up-each heart in the room echoing his story. You could see raw pain hopelessly etched into some of their faces-“That’s me. I can’t do enough. That’s my story.”

 Sev talked about what happened when he at long last came to the ecstatically freeing conclusion that Jesus-not he-was the only solution to his problem of sin. Sev was beaming as he explained how the perfect love that He found in Christ had exorcised fear from his life!

Joy is an all together different thing to me now than it was before my life in a Muslim country. May I never, never take it for granted again.

About twenty five students heard the gospel yesterday-many for the first time.  The idea that the God of the Universe loves you, wants you, and died so that you could know Him is entirely counter-intuitive to the Muslim heart that secretly longs for it to be true.  Ask God to show my students that the gospel is for them.

 “And as He stands in victory-sin’s curse has lost its grip on me!”


  1. I just had a flashback to your fam’s first fall back in the States and Emily dressed up days (early or late?) to trick or treat at the neighbor’s home.

  2. Ha! I don’t even remember that! That’s hysterical. :)

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