I fancy I still hear the call to prayer from the mosque beside the U.S. embassy compound, though I’m a grown woman now.
In the opening scene to my novel A Sense of Mission, the young protagonist, Kaitlin, the daughter of U.S. diplomats in a Muslim majority country, is wakened by the Islamic call to prayer. Her family is Christian. Her mother points out that the faithfulness of Muslims to their prayers might shame some Christians who rarely pray. She suggests that Kaitlin be reminded to pray to Jesus by the call to prayer.
That idea was one I carried out when I lived in the Middle East and heard the Muslim call to prayer five times each day. I decided to use it as a reminder to practice my Christian devotions. It was a reminder that an effective Christian life requires an active prayer life.
Many of us grew up in a country greatly influenced by the teachings of Christianity. We now understand that those of us who call ourselves Christians actually are a minority in the world, about a third according to most counts. Lives immersed in the Internet and virtual communities remind us that we do indeed live in a global village. The increasing presence of other religions, or of no religion, jolts us.
The years I spent in foreign countries influenced me to write what I call “fiction for the global Christian,” to suggest the examination of life from a global Christian viewpoint. Characters in such fiction struggle with personal faith issues, fall in love, and deal with family problems as in other fiction. In the midst of these conflicts, however, they understand Christianity as Jesus-centered for the whole world rather than centered exclusively on domestic American issues.
Other examples of global fiction include: When the Lion Roars by DiAnn Mills; Allah’s Fire by Chuck Holton and Gayle Roper; and Lion of Babylon by Davis Bunn.
Ann Gaylia O'Barr, author of Singing in Babylon, Searching for Home, Quiet Deception, Distant Thunder and A Sense of Mission (all OakTara), was a Foreign Service Officer in the United States Department of State from 1990 to 2004. Assignments included tours in U.S. embassies and consulates in Saudi Arabia (Jeddah and Dhahran), Algeria, Canada, Tunisia, and Washington, D.C. (Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration and Bureau of Intelligence and Research).