Not Lost In Translation

Latin samba drums thunder from my computer speakers, and we dance, jumping around the living room. My five year old Daniel leaps joyfully beside me, tiny shoulders bouncing rhythmically, legs stomping the beat. We grab hands, shimmy to the beat, and swirl.

Jetlag whirls off, this third day back from our missions trip, and it’s time to move. We dance, laughter spiraling off us, as we swoop up dirty laundry, and carry used dishes to the kitchen. Steaming sudsy water pours into the sink, frothing high to hide the old.

Returning from a short-term senior high missions trip to northern France, joy and nostalgia spill from us. In a former textile industry city, those factories stand tall and empty now, and high rise apartments tower beside them. In a city brimming with North African and Arab immigrants, beautiful Nubian cheekbones, dark eyes, and curly hair mark a city that is nearly eighty percent Muslim. Muslim calls to prayer, hallah butchers, and robed men on their way to prayers swirled around us. And during this month of Ramadan, devout men and women avoid food and water in daylight hours, and state that their normal five daily prayers are solely for God in this month. “All the rest of the months, our prayers count for us” (to have the good outweigh the bad), “but this month, our prayers are just for God himself as worship.” We smiled, he and I, this papa at a soccer field, and our conversation flowed.

Muslims can pray for dreams of God and for him to reveal himself to them during this time of Ramadan. Respectfully not eating or drinking outside near Muslims, we greeted the people around us, and entered into conversations, wishing them “Bonne Ramadan,” and I prayed for dreams of God, prayed for revelations of himself.

The normal French reserve melted away at each conversation and encounter, and the questions came, “Why are you here?”

“We’re here with some French and Algerian friends, working beside them at their church at 140 Boulevard de Rheims. We’re here because we love God and want to tell you that God loves you deeply. Jesus loves you.”

Respectful conversations followed then, about Submission to God (the definition of Muslim), and we spoke of lives submitted to God and worshiping him, and about Isa (Jesus) who saves us, and the People of the Book, what the Koran calls Christians.

“I’ve never met Christians like you,” several of them said, in surprise. On plastic green turf fields, we told stories of changed lives, of joy, hope, softened hearts, marriages and lives, and it’s all about Him, and their eyes looked different, as they listened and asked questions, falling quiet at times. We listened and asked questions too, and spoke again of our God who says, “If you seek me with all of your heart, you will find me.” This God who offered a sacrifice for us to know him, and of a Papa God who waits at the side of the road for a glimpse of us–his wandering kids– and then dashes into the street to embrace us. And the delight spills out.

Linking with Emily at Imperfect Prose.

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  1. Shosannah on July 26, 2013 at 12:23 am

    This is beautiful. My husband's family is Muslim. It is a beautiful faith.

  2. Floyd on July 26, 2013 at 5:38 am

    Wow. I just learned more in a two minute read than I have all month… I also learned of a woman called by God to live as the example to her family. God bless you and your heart along with all that call you wife and mom…

  3. LOLITA on July 26, 2013 at 5:50 am

    Wecome back from mission, Jen.

    I know joy is full when you have shared about the love of God throught Jesus Christ.

    And with Muslims? That is great! That was a very unbiased and simple way of introducing Jesus to our Muslim brothers. I think they didn't feel intimidated and recoognized it as different from other "Christians" whom they may have met before you.

  4. Jennifer Dougan on July 28, 2013 at 6:15 pm

    Hi SuzyQ,

    Thank you. I enjoy the gracious hospitable personalities of my Muslim friends.

    Have a great week,
    Jennifer Dougan

  5. Jennifer Dougan on July 28, 2013 at 6:19 pm

    Hey Floyd,

    Thank you! You made me grin and encouraged me. Glad you enjoyed it.


  6. Jennifer Dougan on July 28, 2013 at 6:25 pm

    Lolita, thank you! We had a wonderful time in northern France and learned so much from the people there. We were sad to leave them.

    Nice to catch up with you here, briefly.


  7. Unknown on July 28, 2013 at 9:05 pm

    Dear Jennifer
    Isn't it heartbreaking that these precious people have been surprised about the love of our Pappa that shined through you!! Thanks, dar one, for lving them and not condemning. You do our Pappa proud.
    Blessings XX

  8. Unknown on July 28, 2013 at 9:07 pm

    Sorry Jennifer for the spelling mistakes! Thanks for loving them.

  9. Dontmissyoursunsetlady on July 28, 2013 at 11:57 pm

    Wow the chance of a life time! Thank for sharing! Are you moving again? I wish you could be my writing mentor. Your work is so much more polished than my own. Thanks for checking in I'm doing much better!

  10. Wise Hearted on July 29, 2013 at 4:18 pm

    Jennifer what a blessing to be able to minister to those in France. Praying for fruit of your trip to grow.

  11. Kirsten Oliphant on July 29, 2013 at 4:48 pm

    This was beautiful and I love the way this seems to have been conversational evangelism, not a punch your face in evangelism, the way so often we mess it up. 🙂

  12. Jennifer Dougan on August 9, 2013 at 1:56 am


    Thank you, friend. I think of them and how much he loves them too, and the image of them sticks in my mind and my prayers some days.


  13. Jennifer Dougan on August 9, 2013 at 2:01 am

    Hi TJ,

    No, we're not moving. We were simply overseas for a few weeks for a senior high youth group missions trip. We were in northern France, and loving getting to know people there.

    Thank you for your warm words on my writing. You encourage me! 🙂 We can both keep plugging away, huh? I have been devouring three books on writing this month, trying to learn as much as I can, and getting inspired anew for the hard work on being consistent in it.

    With you in it,

  14. Jennifer Dougan on August 9, 2013 at 2:05 am

    Thank you, Betty,

    It was a treat to connect to the followers of Jesus there, and to learn from them, and so nice too to be able to get to know our new Muslim friends too.


  15. Rachel Resler on August 13, 2013 at 3:12 pm

    Beautiful, Jen.

  16. Jennifer Dougan on August 14, 2013 at 5:22 pm


    Thank you! I'm so glad to have you swing by here. Hop in any time. 🙂

    Jennifer Dougan

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