When I was in West Africa last week, I met this man whose story encouraged me a great deal and I wanted to share it with everyone here. I hope you are encouraged too!
I was raised in a family that practised Islam. In my family, I was the only child my father chose to send to school. The only school in our village was a Catholic school. My parents were not happy, but if you want your children to go to school they must go there. When I was baptized, I still practised Islam at home with my family and didn’t know anything about Jesus.
When I finished that school, I moved to another place to continue school. In that place, God gave me a desire to read his Word. I had been taught to memorize chapters and verses in the Qu’ran, but I didn’t really read it. In my first secondary school class, I heard the word of God and I continued to read on my own time. I was not able to continue my schooling for very long, so I became a school teacher.
Every evening I listen to my radio which is able to receive two radio stations that broadcast Christian programs. One Sunday morning, I was listening to a program that talked about death. I was especially interested in that topic so I listened to the whole program from start to end. At the end, the preacher says it is better for me to make a confession [of sin] now than later. It so impacted me that when I finished listening, I was crying.
There nearest church was 17km away. I changed into new clothes and started out. I had never met a pastor; I had only met priests. I met a friend on the road who took me to meet the pastor. The pastor rode a very old bicycle with many missing parts – there were no brakes. He travelled from village to village with this old messed up bicycle. I asked myself if this was really a man of God? Even as a young man, I would not use a bicycle like the one he rides. He greeted us with a smile. I was astonished. I never met another man like this one.
We went to his house and we sat together and shared. I was taking all his time, but I was happy to find someone to talk about what I had been learning finally. I leaned in. “Pastor, I have something to tell you.”
Before I could say anything, he stopped me. “We need to pray first.”
He went down on his knees and prayed. I listened. It was as though God sat right before him – like he was talking to God and he expected God to answer. I had never heard prayers like that. The prayers I had memorized were very different.
He finished praying and nodded for me to share what I had come to say. I told him about the radio program I had listened to and that I needed to make a life decision. So, I had come to make that decision. Was there a book I needed to register in? What did I have to do to be accepted by Jesus?
The pastor praised the Lord. He said, “My son, you made the right decision.”
He gave me a New Testatment. I was so happy. I went home and read the whole book in one month. I stayed up late every night reading about the return of Jesus. I thought Jesus would come each time the sun rose in the sky. I didn’t want to miss that so I stayed awake as long as I could.
In the first three months, I brought 7 people to the Lord. I went to visit my parents and inform them that I am a Christian. My dad sees that I have totally changed. Everybody could see and witness the change in my life: my school director, my friends, everyone. They were so impacted by my witness that they told my parents they would accept Jesus like me.
My father said that I was no longer one of his children if I did not renounce my faith in Christ. I was not to come back to his house until I denied Jesus. My mother was crying. My father called the place where I taught school and I was not allowed to return to my teaching job. I had to leave on my bicycle and find work somewhere else.
The same pastor I had first visited came to see me. He had come at night and as he was about to leave, I gave him my torch [flashlight] but he told me to keep it. That I needed it more than he did. His bicycle had no lights or brakes and he refused my torch. I watched him ride away and could not see him after 10 metres but could hear his noisy bicycle for a long while. I was alone, but I was thinking about that pastor. He had left his wife and children and rode in the darkness to check on me. He came just because of me.
I fell on my knees and shouted to the Lord that I consecrated my life to him. To help me. I came back in my room with tears. This was a hard decision because my parents are very poor and I was the only one who had gone to school and had a job to help them. I was ready to become an outcast, but my family still needed money to live.
I used to use all kinds of talismans for protection against witchcraft, but I read in my Bible that there is no link between light and darkness. I threw away all my talismans and was afraid that I wasn’t protected any longer. I prayed, “Lord, I leave my life in your hands.”
God spoke to me and said, “My son, do not fear.”
Becoming An Evangelist
I went to Bible school for three years and after that got a scholarship to continue my schooling in Cotonou. I have been called to be an evangelist. Where I live now, there are a lot of Muslim labourers. Some of these Muslims have become Christians through talking to me and discussing the word of God with them every day. I visit one Imam (Muslim religious teacher) every month. Some of them are violent and others more passive to these visits. One of the Imams I spoke with gave his life to Christ. We meet in the middle of the night to discuss the gospel so no one will see us together. He has accepted Jesus, but it is very difficult for him to declare it.
Soon, they will chase him from the mosque because he keeps talking about Jesus.
I started attending a church. When I first came, there were 26 people, but by the end of one year there were over 150 and most of those who are new are Muslims who became Christians. We have trained 4 leaders to go to other villages to share the gospel. My life is to serve the Lord especially among Muslims.
I am travelling overseas this week and would appreciate your prayers for that. Pray also for this man and those he reaches with his ministry. Pray for wisdom and safety for both of us.