“I like you! You don’t just take care of Mamma. You take care of me as well!”
I didn’t think I was doing anything extraordinary for Nafisa, the young-adult daughter of Mamma Salma, the elderly lady in the hospital bed nearby. But I have learned that my patients’ families experience challenges when their loved one is very ill. So I had engaged Nafisa with small talk, encouraged her, and explained how to relate to her mother when she was frustrated. I had even suggested, “Why don’t you talk to God about how you feel? He can hear you!” And I had given her a hug.
I was leaving the room when I felt impressed to ask if she’d ever heard of the Injil. Her response caught me by surprise. “Yes, but this is so strange you should ask me.” Why, I wondered. “I was reading the Qur’an and it mentions the Injil many times, so I thought I would like to read it.”
I told her I could get one for her. She hugged me again. I was so thankful for the few copies I had brought back with me from a weekend in a neighboring country.
The next evening I was excited to get to work. To my delight, Mamma Salma’s nurse that night asked me to cover her patients during her lunch. When I entered the room, Mamma was sleeping. This was my opportunity! I told Nafisa I had the Injil with me. She jumped up, clapped her hands, and ran to me as I held out the New Testament wrapped in bright red foil. She held it to her heart as if to say, “Finally, my very own.”
Then the whole story poured out.
In her reading of the Qur’an Nafisa had noticed that it repeatedly mentioned that believers should read the Torah and the Injil. She showed me a tattered piece of note paper where she had written all the references that said so. “I decided I must know what was in it.” So she had searched big bookstores and little, out-of-the-way bookshops. She had repeatedly asked why the Qur’an talks about the Injil but nobody carries it. A Christian coworker suggested she contact the largest online bookstore in the Middle East. She called a branch of the company that was based in a country where the Bible is sold legally. “Finally,” she thought, “I will get my very own copy.”
When the manager realized where she was calling from, though, he was apologetic. “Sorry, madam, we cannot ship it to you. I am an honest man and I cannot take your money, because you will not receive it. They will not deliver it to you; it is forbidden.”
Tears filled her eyes as she told me, “I lost hope. I thought I would never get an Injil.” She held the New Testament close to her heart. “Hamdulalah. Al hamdulalah.” I encouraged her to pray first before reading it so God could help her understand His Word. “Yes, I will. I will,” she assured me.
Two days later, I had a chance to stop by Mamma Salma’s room. Nafisa was excited to see me. “Oh, I read the story of Jesus’ birth. It is so beautiful. I shared with my sister how much peace I have as I’m reading the Book.”
Nafisa then told how her sister had come to relieve her for a few hours so she could get some sleep. When Nafisa returned to Mamma Salma's room, she thought she would have a few minutes to read from the New Testament before Mamma woke up, but she couldn’t find it anywhere.
“I searched the room. I knew where I’d left it. I knew it couldn’t just disappear. I finally called my sister, wondering if she had seen it. I worried what she might think. To my surprise, she admitted taking it without permission. I was irritated. I told her, ‘It’s mine. I need it. Why did you take it?’ She slowly explained that she just wanted to experience what I’m experiencing. She told me she was reading the Book right then and couldn’t put it down. She said, ‘It’s comforting to me too.’”
Nafisa called her father and asked him to get the book from her sister and bring it back to the hospital room as soon as possible. "Do you know what he said?” Her face lit up as she mimicked her Dad. “‘Let your sister read the book for right now. I will get it back to you when she’s finished, I promise.”
The next time I saw her, Nafisa gave me a Qur’an and a small piece of paper with the references to the Injil. I understood what she meant. Now I’m looking for a copy of the Torah to give her. I know she will want to keep reading. That’s the power of God’s Word. --LS