New beginnings in an African village

By Doug Williams

Published: August 1, 2019

Our team of eight was packed tightly into one small-sized SUV and tiny sedan. We turned off the main paved road and began our adventure toward the village. I wasn't quite sure the color of our vehicles, as the West African dark-red dirt roads had coated them with a thick layer of dust. As you can imagine, the pothole-filled dirt road was like an obstacle course. In fact, at one point in our journey, our sedan could not wade through the deep water-filled hole. Eventually, we dislodged the car from the makeshift pond and were off again toward our village.

Doug Williams

As we drove closer to the village, both sides of the road were lined with a wall of tan African grass reaching higher than our sedan. All we could see was the path in front of us and directly behind us. Then, out of what seemed nowhere, the grass disappeared, and the road widened to a large opening with mud and grass-roofed huts.

Our vehicles no more pulled into the opening when people began to gather around us. We first found the chief of the village to share why our group had come and seek his permission to share about the good news of Jesus. He was an older, gray-headed gentleman. He and the villagers were Muslim. He granted us permission.

Our team began interacting with the villagers through games. We shared that our reason for coming was to tell them about the good news of Jesus. While playing games and sharing with those interested, I was told a young man wanted to talk with me.

Submitted photo

I walked over to the mud hut he was sitting in front of and introduced myself. He told me his name was Mohammad. I said that we had come to tell him and his villagers about Jesus.

He knew about Jesus through the teachings of Islam, and began to share how he was disillusioned with the Muslim faith. Though he grew up a Muslim, he doubted its truth as he grew older.

Beginning with God as our Creator, I shared with Mohammad how the world fell into sin and that eventually God sent his one and only Son to be the sacrifice and substitute for sinners. He listened intently as I shared. I asked him if what I said made sense. He said it did. I then asked if he desired to turn away from his sins and place his faith in Jesus alone to save him. He said he did. At his reply I did a double take. "I don't think you understand what I mean," I insisted, as I then began to reemphasize the gospel to him.

He patiently listened yet again—but replied as before, "I do understand and desire to believe on Jesus." As I was about to retell him the gospel for a third time, I sensed the Lord nudging my heart, "You share; I save!" God is about making people new; He is the God of new beginnings.

What's amazing is He desires to use us to spread this message. Regardless of anyone's background, God makes us new. He has entrusted to us the ministry of reconciliation, but only He can do the reconciling (2 Cor 5:16-21).

Across the street and across the sea, people need reconciling to God. They need a new beginning that comes through faith in Jesus alone. Will you take the good news of Jesus across the street and across the sea so that lives will be made new in Christ?

Doug Williams is a mission strategist for the Kentucky Baptist Convention.