Missionary Update: West Africa
Not Alone After All
Have you ever been the kid sitting alone at the lunch table? Do you know what that feels like?
Wondering if someone will take the time to sit down with you and care?
Now imagine an entire town where everyone sits alone when it matters most.
In our town, groups of young men make their way back from the farms in the late heat of the morning, and slowly begin to mill together at their regular meeting spots. They’ll be there for hours past lunchtime, with no purpose but conversation. One such meeting-spot is formed around a huge pile of scrap metal that has overtaken an abandoned shack, and just the other morning I was invited to join the group that assembled there. They offered me a seat on a wobbly bench, which was just a few planks of wood that had been hastily nailed together. It was a breezy day, which is rare for this arid town, and that made it the perfect day to have nothing on the calendar but getting to know new people.
I sat for hours with them, learning about their lives and families, learning new silly phrases in their native language, laughing and commenting together on the bustling street in front of us. Young men in torn clothes and flip-flops joined the group and left it easily, and our banter together ebbed and flowed.
Then a new young man showed up, dressed in rather formal attire. He introduced himself as a Muslim teacher. It took him less than two minutes to start asking me questions about Christianity, but his posture was different from what we had been enjoying throughout the morning. He took the smirking tone of a cross examiner who was laying out his trap, carefully baiting an unsuspecting witness into a corner. How can Jesus be the Son of God? How can he be God himself? He never called himself the Son of God in the Bible!
“Well, Alex,” I responded to him, “it’s like this…”
“My name isn’t Alex.”
Of course I knew that. Nobody’s name in Muslim West Africa is Alex.
I continued, “Your name is Ahmoud…that’s right. But it didn’t take you any time at all to correct me when I called you by the wrong name, did it?”
“Well, a lot of people called Jesus the ‘Son of God’ to his face, and he never corrected them. If they had been wrong, he would have corrected them. Yet at one point a disciple even fell down at Jesus’ feet and called him ‘my Lord and my God.’ The big question is, why in the world would the disciple call him that?”
Ahmoud was listening now.
“He called Jesus that because Jesus had just been raised from the dead. We’re all going to die one day. Are you scared to die?”
“Yeah,” Ahmoud laughed nervously.
“You’re scared because you don’t know what God will say to you when you go before him. As far as you know, when you die, it’s just you and your deeds before God the judge. That’s pretty lonely and pretty terrifying.”
I continued, “But what if someone came up to you, looked you in the eye, held your hand, and said, ‘I love you, I want to save you, and I have the power to do it, and I will give up everything, even my very life, because you are special to me’? Do you know anyone who would say that to you? Because Jesus is saying it to you now.”
Muslims are taught from a young age that they will stand alone before God as He judges them to decide their fate for eternity. It’s a lonely and terrifying place to be. Praise be to God that we know Someone who “always lives to make intercession for us,” who comes to us in our loneliness, and who has the power to give us rich, unending life.
Thank you for joining us in this mission!!
- Continued progress as we follow up in the villages where our summer volunteers lived
- Zach’s first birthday
- The arrival of our teammates’ new baby
- God’s faithful provision for formula distributions
- A safe round-trip for Greg to the capital
- For us to catch all the mice in our house
- For our kids and for homeschooling
- For guidance about who to share with each day