From Sad Farmer with Destroyed Crops to Happy Disciple with Eternal Fruit
The Lord called Alessandro* to work amongst an unreached tribe in Africa. This people group is largely Muslim. Today there is a thriving movement of believers. Back in the beginning it was slow going. Alessandro testifies that much of the fruit began with the simple act of reaching out to a neighbor. He trusted that God would move through his prayers.
Wild Pigs and a Despondent Neighbor
Alessandro found his friend that day standing out in his maize field. He was working, but sad. When Alessandro asked why he was despondent, he found it was because of wild pigs. Pigs were coming into his field and destroying his crops. Alessandro could see how difficult this was for his friend. He asked if he could pray that God would protect his fields.
Confused, the man asked, “How? How are you going to pray? Don’t you see that I’m not clean? I haven’t showered. I’m just out here working? How can you pray when I am like this?”
But Alessandro insisted, “Those things don’t matter. God is always listening.” Eventually, his friend agreed, and Alessandro prayed a simple prayer. They had a bit more of a chat, and then Alessandro went on home.
The next day Alessandro came back. This time greeted by a very different sight. His friend was cleaned up, showered, and wearing nice clean clothing. Most importantly, he was no longer sad.
“I Want to Listen to You”
He told Alessandro, “Today, we are not going to work in the field. I want to listen to you about this God that you prayed to yesterday.” Alessandro found out God had answered his prayer. The wild pigs had not returned, and this was enough to make his friend want to know more. He listened as Alessandro shared the gospel, and soon enough became a follower of Christ.
The new believer’s faith was contagious. He shared with his wife, and she became a follower of Jesus. He told his brother, and he made the same decision. Soon after, his brother-in-law also joined in their faith. It wasn’t long before there were seven families who had come to the Lord.
All this starting with that one man and that one practical prayer offered in faith and obedience. Alessandro had trusted the God would meet his friend in the area of his need. God then demonstrated His mercy and His power by the way He answered.
That was only the beginning of the story, though. When the community heard about all the people who were coming to Jesus, there were many who were not happy. The families began to experience intense persecution. Alessandro’s friend’s father-in-law even came to him. He insisted, “Get out the village, and leave my daughter behind.”
Without a choice, the new believer prepared to go. But then his wife stood up facing her father. Joining her husband, she declared, “If you are going to chase away my husband, then you are chasing away me as well. I will go with my husband, because I also am following Jesus.”
The village did not back down. Having their relatives follow Jesus was a source of acute shame. Because of this, they forced them to go. Unwilling to turn their backs on their new faith, the couple left. They lost their home, their fields, and their crops from that year. They lost everything they had.
And they weren’t the only ones. All seven families were forced to abandon everything they had and leave the village.
Forced to Abandon Everything, Yet Happy
Alessandro was there with them as this was happening. With great concern, he asked them, “What will you do now?” One friend shared this glorious testimony: “We are happy because now we are alive. We believe that God will bless us and Jesus will not forsake us. What we left behind is nothing compared with Jesus, whom we have found. We were in darkness, now we are in the light.”
Still, they needed to find a new home and a new field where they could plant and grow crops. But they believed that Jesus would not forsake them. “We don’t have a house,” they said, “we have lost everything, but we have found life, and we will not give up.”
They began to look for fields. Within the year, all seven families found places. They started planting again. God abundantly blessed them with good harvests. They soon had maize and beans and everything they needed. Not just enough to feed their own families, but plenty to be generous to others around them.
Even so, opposition continued to rise against them. Sometime later, the sister of one of the believers died. The question arose about where to bury her. Local Muslims opposed them, refusing to let the woman be buried in their village. They even began to invite more Muslims to the village. Hundreds of people to overwhelm the funeral ceremony. Their intention was to completely end the idea of Christianity in their community.
Some locals were calling on their brothers to give the Christians a hard time. They wanted to keep their numbers down. But hope arose from an unexpected source. An Imam who had befriended the Christian believers stood up to defend them. He spoke up.
He asked, “Can you point to something wrong that these believers have done? These believers are not doing anything wrong to anyone. They are even doing something good and special in the way they are loving the people here.”
He continued, “They are helping others with their own crops and are giving us seeds. So why are you doing this? These people, they are examples for us to follow!“
Growth and Multiplication of Disciples
Thanks to this support, the number of believers in this community has continued to grow. Those seven families went on to become pillars of the church in the area. Alessandro tells us of a recent event: the second gathering of the tribal believers. About one thousand people were in attendance, including 250 children.
Throughout the world, God’s church is growing. He uses His dedicated servants with bold faith and strategic thinking. They work at making disciples who make disciples. All this is on the foundation of God’s overwhelming kindness and mercy. He opens up doors and makes a way where there is no way. So often, this is most powerfully seen in simple acts of faith and obedience. As God used Alessandro, may He choose to use more of us in unexpected ways to bear tremendous fruit.
*not his real name.