A fervent Muslim in a north-central African country fanatical about converting Christians to Islam accepted a native Christian ministry’s offer to help translate the Bible into the Ndam language.
The Law of Moses, the Psalms of David and the New Testament Gospels were deemed holy books in the Koran, after all, and Hassan* felt the task was suited to someone of his education and abilities. In the officially secular country where tolerance and cooperation have historically marked relations between Muslims and Christians, Hassan welcomed the opportunity to mingle and discuss Scripture with prospective converts to Islam.
“As he was constantly exposed to the Scriptures at the translating workshop, he ended up accepting Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord,” the leader of a native ministry said. “Right now he is growing through discipleship and constantly interceding for the salvation of his community.”
Fadoul, a woman from an Arab ethnic group, was a devoted Muslim zealous in her practice of Islam who lived in deep, daily fear of evil spirits. To cope she sought protection from a marabout, or Islamic holy man, who gave her a trinket to use as a kind of guardian fetish, the ministry leader said.
“Despite her efforts, she had not found the peace of heart and was under growing fear of bad spirits,” he said. “When she found Jesus at last, it drastically transformed her life. A joy flooded her heart, and her closeness to Christ gives her the force to endure all persecutions and sufferings.”
Battle for the Country’s Soul
The conflicting beliefs of traditional tribal religion, Islam and Christianity have been part of the struggle for the country’s national identity, especially in political representation, since civil war ended in 1990.
Greed and dishonesty can be seen in many spheres, and native missionaries are enthusiastic about Christ transforming entire communities. An ethnic Fulfulde community in an undisclosed town that was once immersed in the occult has seen stark change since many of its members put their faith in Christ, the ministry leader said.
“All the inhabitants were under the fear of bad spirits and attack by others – it was necessary that each one seeks protection by relying on the marabouts and wizards,” he said. “Having accepted Christ as their Savior and Lord, all converts gave over their fetishes and their amulets, which were burned that day. At present, this community radiates the peace and joy that comes from the gospel, and that has had great effects on relations among the inhabitants of the village.”
The leader of another native ministry said relations between Muslims and Christians in two villages were tense, but that gospel proclamation among Muslims actually improved relations.
“There is now a good relationship with the Muslim population, and the doors of gospel are open,” the leader said. “Some are giving their lives to Christ, and some not yet, but good relationships have been built. Before the gospel was not understood, and Christians had no value in the community’s eyes, but now things have changed.”
Ministry leaders encourage missionaries and all staff members to proclaim Christ daily among unreached people, he said. The leaders first visit areas of unreached people and meet with village leaders, being forthright about their goals of bringing the righteousness of Christ by sending missionaries to them, he said.
After gaining approval, they introduce the missionaries to them and then help them establish themselves, he said.
“Before sending missionaries to the fields, we train them and put in their heart the vision of unreached people and the necessity of saving the most people,” the leader said. “We test our missionaries and identify the consecrated missionaries, choosing those that get the vision and are ready to go to the field.”
They have seen villages transformed from cultures of violence to communities of peace as the salvation of Christ gradually takes hold, he said.
“Of course the presence of missionaries and some activities related to the gospel give meaning and reason, and people are transformed by the testimonies of some Christians who gave up their evil life and came to Christ with one goal of serving the living and eternal God,” he said.
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*Names changed for security reasons