I started a Bible study, Gideon, by Priscilla Shirer in February. As I studied chapter six in the book of Judges, I felt a bond with Gideon. “And he said to him, ‘Please Lord, how can I save Israel? Behold my clan is the weakest in Manasseh, and I am the least in my father’s house.’” Judges 6:15. So many times I’ve asked myself, “What can I accomplish by going to Africa? I’m not a Bible scholar. I don’t speak the language. I am the weakest.”
As we entered a new village on the second day of our trip, I felt the heaviness of our task. It was a long drive so it was already hot. The population of the village is about 5,000. We had to ask a young boy to lead us to the school so we could deliver a gift of school supplies. The director of the school was polite but curt. As he turned to leave, we were on a slight hill and I could see the many walled compounds. Again I wondered, “What can we accomplish?”
We stood at the entrance of the first compound where a group was standing inside the walls. Our translator, Biba, smiled and explained the purpose of our visit. Without hesitation, they told us they did not have time to talk with us. We thanked them and moved down the sand trail and listened. You can’t see over the walls of compounds, but you can find women by listening. The women are always working. Their jobs include: gathering water, pounding millet or cooking and caring for their families. It’s easy to hear the rhythmic thud of pounding millet.
Our team continued to walk and approached another compound and saw a circle of women. We greeted them and asked permission to visit. They simply stared at us without speaking. Biba said, “They have not offered us an invitation. We should go.”
After our third rejection, I felt defeated. I didn’t know what to do. We’d travelled so far and no one wanted to listen. I was thinking about Gideon and remembered that God had told him, “But I will be with you.” I stopped in the middle of the street and said, “We need to pray.” We prayed for God to clear a path for us and to call his sheep. “My Sheep hear my voice.” John 10:27.
After our prayer, we continued to walk through the maze and found ourselves in a central public area with a well. Many women were gathering water. We greeted them and explained that we were Christians. Immediately, one of the women left and returned with a mat and unrolled it. We sat on the mat in the shade and started to share. A man suddenly pushed through the crowd and sat across from me. This is very unusual behavior for a Muslim man. I expected him to tell us to leave. Instead, he said, “It is good for people to hear what you have to say. Everyone should decide for themselves.” This was an amazing comment to come from a Muslim man. We continued to share scriptures and covered the IMB’s version of From Creation to Christ, also known as C2C. The growing mass of people closed in on us. As Biba interpreted, her eyes grew large as she studied the pressing crowd. This is not normal behavior for Biba. I’ve been with her through two other mission trips and she is always calm and confident. However, she continued to interpret and speak fearlessly. Every mission team needs a Biba. She is a blessing.
Each of our team members spoke boldly and proclaimed the gospel. I felt the power of the Holy Spirit so strongly it was overwhelming. We estimated that perhaps 100 people had surrounded us. When we rose to leave, the crowd dispersed. That’s when I realized that we were sitting in the shadow of a large mosque. It had been to my back as we entered the central courtyard. I had only seen the well. We had been preaching the gospel in the Mosque courtyard. I felt weak in the knees as I realized what we’d done.
For the rest of the day, we were welcomed with smiles, laughter and interest. I believe two factors impacted our success: 1. We prayed and called on the power of the Holy Spirit. 2. Our prayer partners were praying. It was about 11:00 am in Niger when we prayed, but 5:00 am in America. I believe one or more of our prayer partners had risen early and prayed for us.
My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” 2 Corinthians 12:9. I am the least, but He is the most powerful. That’s why I’ve been called to go to Africa.