I will never forget my first year in the Lilongwe. Some of the villages were so open to the gospel while others seemed to never have heard of Jesus. As our time is short tonight, I will share only one story of the miraculous conversion of an entire village.
I had been in Lilongwe, Malawi just a month or so. My wife was doing her best to acclimate to the living conditions I had subjected her to—no furniture and hired guards for what property we had. My son was feeling quite lonely as he left all his friends in USA to come to Africa with us; he was feeling cut off from the world.
I took a walk one day to seek God. Had we made haste in our decision to leave home for the mission field? That is when I saw the little girl.
She could not have been more than nine or ten years old but her build was slight, almost frail looking. Her eyes big black pools shone through her dark chocolate skin. Unafraid of me, she walked up, grabbed my wrist and insisted, “Come.” I followed, certain if I had not gone, she would have taken my wrist and left me behind.
I grew breathless trying to keep up with her. She pranced through the brush from our village to hers. “Where are you taking me?” I asked, but received no response other than a tug on my wrist. It amazed me that she could keep such a pace dragging this old fellow behind her.
When at last we entered her village, she shouted, “He’s here, he’s here!” She called the entire community to come at once to see the white man from the other village. I doubled over, panting for air with my neck craned upward so I could see the great crowd gather around us. “I brought him, just as I told you.”
Then she turned to me. “Tell them the story!”
Confused and out of breath, I stared at her. “Story?” I could not remember telling any stories, and I definitely did not remember this girl.
“The story you told the other village. Tell them …!” she insisted. I must have appeared as though I would fall over when one of the villagers grabbed my arm and guided me to a log lying on the ground to sit. The villagers followed, sitting in a circle around me. The girl, whose name was Faizah, I learned, took a seat to my right.
“What do you know about the story I told them?” I probed, hoping to understand what story they wanted to hear.
“You know, the one about the man named Jesus,” the deep base voice of Jawara, a dark man, as tall and thick as an oak tree spoke behind me. When I looked up and saw his thick arms with ropes for veins popping through his skin my heart crawled into my throat. However, his eyes were pools of liquid chocolate, setting me at ease.
He told everyone to listen to me speak and then sat down on my left. I began to chuckle; I was surrounded by giants and little people. Their earnest looks prevented me from making light of the moment.
“Well, let me see. The story I have been telling is true; has anyone heard of Jesus?” I began. Some had, others were not sure. So I told them about Jesus. Their eyes were so hungry I could not stop until I told them all the story of the Bible. I must have talked for several hours, but no one moved; not even a flinch when flies began their practice landings on bald heads. By the time I finished, there was a sea of tears. I had never in my life experienced such a reaction to the story of Jesus.
Later, Jawara told me of a missionary that visited them many years ago who was rejected. He was mocked and treated with much hatred. One day the missionary was murdered. The villagers believed they were finally free of him, until their children became ill and died, their food ran out. They prayed to their gods, called in the witch doctors, performed the rituals; but none helped.
Jawara finished the story, I told him I believed that man to be a seed planted, and they were the harvest. From that day, the village has experienced God’s blessing.
That day God answered all of our cries.
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