Africa (Frontiers) — [EDITOR’S NOTE: This story is written by a long-time Frontiers field worker, who shares how one life in particular was changed by Jesus. For security purposes, names have been changed.]
Samira hasn’t seen much of the world. She is a village woman—someone whom others would look at and say, “She’s not educated; she doesn’t really know anything.” Most of her life has been spent in a small Muslim village. She hasn’t really seen anything in the world.
And yet, God has given Samira the eyes to see Jesus.
I first met Samira at a wedding. Going to so many weddings, funerals, and baby-naming ceremonies often felt like a waste of time to me. It seemed so unproductive—just sitting there with the women—especially when I knew so little of their local language. But being a part of this remote African community meant attending lots of ceremonies.
Seeing me standing by myself at this wedding, Samira came up to me and asked me many questions.
“Wait, I don’t understand,” I said to her, “Slow down.”
One of my friends who knew her came up and helped translate into a trade language that I knew better.
Samira was really curious about a lot of things. As my skills in the local language grew, I was able to start communicating more about Jesus. Eventually, I could tell her stories from the Old Testament, and she seemed to receive those well.
Whenever Samira saw my husband and me stop and pray for people, she was astounded by our compassion. When she asked me why we were so kind, I told her, “It’s because of Jesus. He’s the one who has taught us to show mercy to all.”
One time, Samira responded, “Can only certain people follow Jesus?”
“No!” I said. “No, Jesus is for everybody! Everyone can pray in Jesus’ name.”
When we finally received finished recordings of Luke and Acts in Samira’s language, I offered them to her on a solar-powered audio player.
A week later, Samira came back and said, “This is really good news! Jesus is wonderful!” She kept on saying it in different ways. “Jesus is so big, He is so great! This is so good, I listened to this all week long!”
She had listened to Luke and Acts four or five times, all in one week. She even had every woman and child who came into her house sit down and listen with her.
Since then, we have journeyed together, going to villages to share about Jesus. Samira will simply say to me, “Hey, we need to go to this village and talk with them because they haven’t heard about Jesus yet. Let’s go!” It is incredible to see how God has given her a heart for Jesus and eyes to see Him.
One time, Samira convinced me to walk with her to a “nearby” village that still didn’t know about Jesus. Somehow I had understood that it was only a half mile away. I had my six-month-old baby on my back and hadn’t brought any water.
It ended up being three miles away through sandy desert. Halfway there, we stopped at a camp of herders who offered us a jug of brown water, which I couldn’t bring myself to drink. Fortunately, we came across a well from which we could draw water.
In all the villages we visit, Samira tells them about how great Jesus is. She gives out Luke and Acts on solar players whenever she can.
I think about all the women in villages that Samira has shared with—and who have been given these solar players. They are listening to the Bible in their language. One woman who received a solar player said, “It’s my new best friend! I love listening to this!”
This is much bigger than anything we could count. We have no idea what is resulting from getting the Gospel into the hands of these village women.
For a long time, I was frustrated because I really wanted to do specific Bible studies with Samira. My husband and I had been trained in Disciple Making Movements, and I had this plan to go through a set of Bible stories with her.
But one thing after another kept getting in the way. Half the year, Samira was in another village and it was hard to visit her. When I did drop in, she would have visitors, or her children would be screaming, or my child would be screaming! When I suggested we set a time to do a study together, she was just confused. In this culture, they are not used to scheduling time together—it simply happens when one friend shows up at another’s door.
But now I recognize this is bigger than my expectations—bigger than my desire to do the perfect Bible study that will catalyze a movement of disciples of Jesus. God’s Spirit is on Samira, and it is an incredible thing to see. She is hungry for the Gospel, and everything she hears about Jesus, she shares with others. She is even seeing God heal people in the name of Jesus.
When Lisa, my mentor and coach, came to visit us, I introduced her to Samira. “What news do you have for me?” Samira asked Lisa. She was talking about Jesus—she would ask every person who came to visit us, “What do you have to tell me about Jesus that I haven’t heard yet?”
Lisa said, “I want you to know that I pray for you, that you would know who Jesus truly is. Do you know that He is the Way?”
Samira said, “Of course! It’s just like when you tell someone how to get to the next town over. You have to go through the police checkpoint before getting into town. That’s like Jesus—you have to go through Him to get to heaven.”
Samira is listening to God’s Word and is growing in knowledge. She is being transformed day by day.
Pray that Samira would continue to grow in her love and understanding of Jesus—and that she would be used mightily to reach her people with the Good News of the Kingdom.