It’s about a Bible translation, a courageous act by one believer, an amazing vision and how God brought it all together to bring 2,500 people to faith.
What would you do if a leader of a militant group invited you to visit?
This recently happened to a Christian in West Africa. Sani* is a former Muslim involved in Bible translation in West Africa. He received a phone call from a man saying that he and four of his friends were aware of Sani’s work among the Muslim people group they belonged to and he and these friends all belonged to the same language group as Sani.
They wanted Sani to come and meet with them and tell them about Jesus. After talking on the phone for a few minutes, Sani realised that this man and his friends probably belonged to a militant group and that the invitation may well be a trap. He considered it too much of a risk, and declined the invitation.
But the man phoned again the next day, begging Sani to visit. To help persuade Sani, he related an account of their recent experiences. The man admitted that he and the four friends he had spoken about were leaders of a militant group. Recently, however, these men had experienced something quite extraordinary.
Vision of a man
The five men had been leading their group of 2,500 through the bush to a neighbouring state to launch an attack when they were blocked by a vision of a man in brilliant white, whose feet were on the ground and whose head was in the sky. All five leaders and many of the larger group saw this vision and they wisely retreated. They wondered if they had stumbled upon some sort of holy trail and decided to try a different route the next day. Again, they were confronted by the same vision of the man in white. This happened five separate times.
The men had little choice but to return to their camp. On arriving, each of the five leaders withdrew from the group, taking their prayer rugs to pray and reflect alone. The man on the phone told Sani that while he was alone, a man in white approached him, greeted him and sat down with him.
The man in white talked about what had recently happened, what was going on in the leader’s head, and even shared from the Scriptures. Listening to him, the leader was baffled and finally he asked: ‘Who are you and how do you know these things?’ The man in white held out his hands, showing holes in his palms and proclaimed: ‘I am Jesus, I have come that you might have salvation and bring salvation to others.’ The militant leader fell to his knees and accepted Jesus as his Lord and Saviour. Then, the man in white walked away and disappeared into the bush. The newly converted leader got up and ran to tell the other leaders what had happened, and discovered, to his surprise, that all five of them had met the same man at the same time.
They quickly discussed what they should do next, and remembered hearing about Sani, a man that talked about Jesus in their own language.
Accepting the invitation
After hearing this story, and praying about and discussing the situation with his wife, Sani decided to accept the invitation to visit this militant group. He drove a fair way out of town, met the man who had phoned him and was taken by motorbike to the camp. Arriving late at night, he retired to a restless sleep.
Early the next morning, Sani entered the camp to find 2,500 militants assembled and waiting to hear him speak. Sani is a gifted preacher, but on this occasion, something prompted him simply to read Scripture. Because the New Testament had already been translated into his language a few years earlier, Sani could read God’s Word to them in their own language that day. After reading four chapters from the book of James, Sani invited the men to accept Jesus and, amazingly, all 2,500 responded.
Living and active
The Word of God truly is living and active. We praise God for this New Testament translation, Sani’s boldness in going to visit this militant group, and above all, God who made it all possible and brought 2,500 men to him in one day.
* Name changed for security reasons.
Adapted for EN by Camilla Lloyd from a story supplied by a Bible translator in West Africa.
Camilla is part of the Supporter Engagement team with Wycliffe Bible Translators