by Joy Casey
I love a good story, don’t you? I especially love telling the stories coming out of humble churches far flung from any semblance of civilization as we know it. When my email pops up with a hallelujah story from our Evangelism Director, sometimes there is a picture with it, sometimes not – but because I have been there, I can visualize the scene in detail. When finished with the email, I find I am smiling ear-to-ear, overjoyed to hear what God is doing. I will share with you some of the stories well enough (I hope!) so you can see the narrative played out in your mind’s eye and come away with joy in your heart and a smile on your face.
Six years ago, Missionary “A”* was persevering in a Mus!im village with little to show for his evangelism efforts. “It was like plowing rocks” until God turned the heart of the mosque imam towards Him. When Imam Balcha came to the Lord, his large, influential family and village people curiously investigated the new way of their beloved imam, and many became Christ-followers. Imam Balcha donated some of his land and NewLife helped build a church on it. Today, 423 people call themselves Christian. There are all kinds of stories that have come out of that church, but let’s fast forward to the end of 2023 …
Where to Turn?
Geneme Mohamed is not unlike many Mus!ims in her village. She identifies as Mus!im and ritualistically goes to the mosque, but she is also involved in tribal witchcraft. For years Geneme was prisoner of an evil spirit and was even called “evil eyes” because of the way she looked and acted. She and her family recognized the demonic source of her debilitating eye condition and took her to medical people, witch doctors, herbal healers and imams seeking relief. They knew of Missionary “A” and other Christ-followers in their village, but always studiously avoided them; Geneme’s eyes became even worse when she had any contact with a Jesus follower. But out of desperation, she finally gave in to advice from a neighbor who told her that Jesus, through Missionary “A”, could heal her completely. With nowhere else to turn, she asked Missionary “A” to come to her house. He came along with several others from his church, explaining to her and her household about Jesus and what His sacrifice on the cross could do for anyone who believed. “A” and his friends then prayed for her healing, commanding the demon to come out of her. Geneme was freed from the controlling spirit and her eyes were immediately restored to normal. She could scarcely take it all in! With joy, she and all her family repented of their allegiance to false gods, gladly accepting the gift of right standing with God through Jesus. This new sister is now learning the Word of God in church and is planning on being baptized.
New House, New Heart
Another new convert at this church came with much less drama than Geneme. Rameto was a young man living with his mother in a very old traditional stick-and-mud house that was about to fall down. Missionary “A” had met Rameto here and there about the village, but one day “A” and a few of his disciples decided to visit Rameto’s home to seriously share the love that Jesus has for him. “A” was shocked at the deplorable condition of their house, but Rameto welcomed them in for coffee and “A” told him and his mother about Jesus.
Afterwards at the church, “A” organized the older teens and young adults to collect money from people in their church. Three days later the young men from church came back to Rameto’s house with wood, nails and fresh straw for a roof and proceeded to rebuild their dilapidated house. Rameto and his mother were overjoyed, inviting the young men for coffee and roasted barley. Rameto said, “You showed us the true love that Jesus has for us. Everything Missionary “A” said was true and I want to follow Jesus!”
This past year, 43 Mus!ims from this village joined Geneme and Rameto in repentance and confession that Jesus is Lord. Jesus said, “I tell you, there is rejoicing in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents” (Luke 15:10). Can you imagine the celestial celebration over 43?
*For security reasons, we don’t share the names of our missionaries serving in Mus!im areas or mention the name of the village