A young man in a West African country was cursing and throwing stones at a crowd of people waiting to see the Jesus Film at an open-air venue.
Local missionaries screening the film spoke to the young man in a non-confrontational manner, addressing him as a friend and trying to calm him with assurances that people had come of their own free will.
“We did everything to calm him down, but he was getting more violent and saying, ‘You are not welcome here, and you will all go to hell,’” a ministry leader said.
The leader asked a local town councilor who was present if he might intervene. The official took up the microphone of the ministry presenting the film.
“This is a free country, and these people are not strangers,” the official said, according to the ministry leader. “We know them and, on several occasions, they came alongside to help us. I will encourage you to listen to what they have to say. Stop disturbing and compare their teaching to what you were told about Christianity.”
The young man remained silent, the leader said, while the local missionaries were stunned by the official’s show of support.
“We couldn’t believe what we heard from this man’s mouth, and the crowd applauded what he said,” the ministry leader said. “We projected the movie, had a very nice discussion and distributed tracts.”
Creating Good Will
Local missionaries create such pockets of openness in the Muslim-majority country precisely because they are not outsiders and have generated good will through compassionate aid and service to the community, he noted.
Workers provided rice, oil, sugar and soap to the neediest 30 families when the COVID-19 pandemic struck, he said.
“The humanitarian donation was welcomed and appreciated by all the beneficiaries,” the leader said. “It is so difficult to describe what the beneficiaries are feeling and what we feel as conveyors of the gift. Our gratitude is great. I continue to visualize in my mind the joy and gratitude of certain families when receiving the donation.”
Those who receive the gift of Christ’s forgiveness are also grateful. During a weeklong evangelistic event, a man who had served four years in prison for crimes related to his work as a taxi driver quietly listened to the gospel each night. After the event, he told the ministry leader his life story and said he wanted to accept Christ as Lord and Savior.
“The pastor of his home church told me that he has changed and grown so much,” the leader said. “He got married and changed jobs. He finished most Bible correspondence courses and is eager to learn more about the Lord. Many people testified about the good changes they have seen in his life.”
Evangelical Christians make up less than 1 percent of the population of the Muslim-majority country, which is unnamed for security reasons. The occult finds its way into the practices of many people in small towns and villages, including some Muslims.
A drug dealer in another area of the country was a disciple of an occult leader whose sect terrified others with its hostilities and aggression. After hearing a local missionary of another native ministry preach at an open-air evangelistic event, the drug dealer put his faith in Christ.
“Today he is a follower of Jesus Christ, and we are finding a way to bring him out of the country for more training,” the ministry leader said.
This native ministry also has built good will through service and aid to communities, providing rice, clothing and medical assistance, including fever reducers and supplements to strengthen immune systems.
Such outreach creates openness to workers sharing about their faith. Besides open-air events and Christian films, local missionaries also proclaim Christ one-on-one and to groups of new believers’ relatives, friends and neighbors. Follow-up comes through personal visits and Bible studies or, for those in pandemic-stricken areas, through telephone calls, Zoom talks and social media.
Evangelists and pastors receive training in how to reach Muslims and followers of tribal religion with the gospel, the ministry leader said. The ministry is training pastors for new churches in six areas.
“We are now doing training of lay pastors who are recruited from towns and villages for the pastoring of the newly established churches,” the ministry leader said. “Then we can do regular follow-up training with our school-on-wheels French teams for on-the-spot training.”
New faith can come with a high price. A young man who recently put his faith in Christ gained a family of Christian fellowship but lost his Muslim family.
“He was asked by his parents to renounce Christ, and he was expelled from his family because of his confession of faith in Christ Jesus and refusal to renounce Him and instead proclaim Muhammad,” the ministry leader said.
Local missionaries there and in other difficult areas of Africa are making Christ known to the unreached. Please consider a donation today to equip and encourage them for the task.