An unlikely brotherhood
By Amy Bareham Chapman | West Africa
Representative photo from West Africa via Unsplash photographer Gracious Adebayo.
Nadeem* could have been justified in disliking – and maybe even hating – the Faithful Witness family visiting his village. They are foreigners, Christians, and new owners of a parcel of Nadeem’s land – land that his fellow community members gave these mission workers without Nadeem’s consent.
But in this West African region, where over 90 per cent of the people are least likely to be reached with the gospel, God is doing something remarkable. His law of love and his gospel of peace are drawing nonbelievers into encounters with Faithful Witness teams.
Yakouba* and wife Mariama* began visiting Nadeem’s rural village last year. They stayed in a guest house across from his home and were pleasantly surprised when their Muslim neighbour kept showing up and trying to befriend them.
“I would walk over to his house and sit down with him,” recalls Yakouba. “He was so open and warm in receiving us. Even giving us a pumpkin one time that he grew for his family. I said to myself, ‘Wow, this man is so generous.’ The next time we visited the village, I brought some things for him, too.”
Yakouba learned that Nadeem needed money for medication and his wife required food supplies. He and Mariama gladly provided for this friend. They could sense God’s anointing on the relationship and continued to make themselves available for conversation.
Nadeem confessed that, at first, he was upset with Yakouba and Mariama. After working on a water reservoir installation in the area, they approached the villagers and asked for a suitable portion of land on which to build. Yakouba explains that Faithful Witness wanted a reliable place to stay during future trips. The villagers offered up some of Nadeem’s property but didn’t discuss their decision with him.
When Nadeem learned that this land went to the Christians responsible for bringing safe, clean water to his people, his spirit softened. Yakouba shares, “He said now he is happy to let us use the land. We believe that is because Christ has come to it.”
Yakouba and Mariama had to leave the area for several months to deliver their new baby, but they were thrilled to find Nadeem eagerly awaiting their return. He immediately brought Yakouba to his farm to gift the mission worker with grains. “When I saw how happy he was, deep within me I felt God tell me to go to his house because he was so excited to receive us,” Yakouba shares.
The men talked for two hours. At one point, Nadeem shared that he lost a daughter to a mysterious illness. Yakouba saw an opportunity and went to find a translator with a better understanding of Nadeem’s dialect. Yakouba asked Nadeem if he was prepared for his own death. Nadeem answered: “No, I don’t know where I’m going.”
When Yakouba asked if his friend realised there were answers to his questions about death, Nadeem replied, “Yes, and I believe you have the answers to those questions.” Yakouba proceeded to share the gospel. Nadeem’s daughter was with them, serving tea, and she nodded her head as she listened to the message.
“There and then Nadeem was ready,” says Yakouba. “I thought he’d need to think about it or something, but no. He was ready to accept Christ. He spoke to his wife and prayed.”
Yakouba noticed a protective charm hanging around Nadeem’s neck and told him it was time to remove and burn it. The new brothers in Christ set the charm on fire and welcomed the protective power of the Holy Spirit.
The next time Yakouba visited Nadeem’s house, the men went and prayed together in his room. Yakouba says, “[Nadeem] said I should not have any concern. He knows what he has done, and he is a Christian. He only needs us to be praying for him so he can withstand any persecution that comes from his people. Once they know he’s a Christian, they will abandon him.”
Mariama also intends to speak with Nadeem’s daughter soon. If the daughter accepts Christ, Yakouba is confident her mother will, too.
For now, Nadeem is the second-known believer among his people, and Faithful Witness rejoices at God’s perfect plan for his life.
• Nadeem’s wife and daughter. Ask for the truth of the gospel to saturate their hearts and minds.
• Protection and provision for Nadeem and his family.
• Movement of the Holy Spirit in the particular areas of West Africa where Christ is least known.