Need on a Witchcraft-Stricken Island – I’ll Go!
“Better for me to invest in a dog than you!” How would you feel if you heard this from your father? As we listened intently, our friend Kaysan* shared his story. These were the words his father said to him. I listened with curiosity. How would Kaysan respond?
Storytelling is always a favorite activity when YWAMers gather from around the world. As I listened, I expected there would be stories I would want to share with our readers. I brought my laptop to the storytelling session ready to record what I was hearing.
It was a big step for this young African man to leave his family and go into missions. Everyone expected him to go to Germany to university. Kaysan believed God had a better place for him to invest his efforts. It was an unreached island. People in his country called the island “the place where the devil abides.”
He planned to say no to the university in Germany and yes to what he calls the “University of Witchcraft.” He announced his decision to his family. Their rejection came swiftly. His father reacted harshly with those words: “Better for me to invest in a dog than you!”
Despite the hurt, Kaysan pursued God’s call. To get the training needed, he turned to YWAM in his region of Africa. Over time, he pulled together a team of three.
They were going to a tribe different than their own. First, they would work on learning a new language and a new culture. It took them six months to speak the tribal language. As soon as they were ready, they started telling their new local friends stories from the Bible.
A Blend of Spiritual and Physical Help
Their ministry approach is a blend of meeting spiritual and physical needs. “We use primary health care in our work,” he told us.
Kaysan gave us an example. “There was a sick lady with ‘elephant leg’ sitting under a tree, flies all around. I got off my bike and asked, ‘How are you?’ She didn’t respond. Others were in a nearby house. I asked them, ‘Does she speak?’ ‘Yes. Go talk to her.’”
“’Don’t come close to me,’ she warned. ‘This is where they put me, so no one gets near me.’ As we spoke I asked, ‘Can I help wash your feet?’”
“Sometime later I got her some medication. It helped but didn’t help the deformation. But in a month the wounds were healed by the medicine and my constant care. I was also able to get an offering of some money. With it, I got special shoes for her. She was so happy.”
“Why do you do this for me? That was my mother over at the house. She never has helped me. I see your face, you do this with joy.”
“Not me. Someone else saw you first. He’s the One who brought me to you. Jesus is His name.”
Jesus Lives in You?
“My new friend said, ‘Jesus lives in you? How can that happen to me? I want to give my life to Him. I want to be baptized today!’”
“Two days after the baptism, her mother came to talk to me. ‘I’ve never seen such love, even from me, her mother. The smell kept me away but not you. I want to follow Jesus.’”
“A fellowship started in that house. Now others are coming. She faithfully shares her faith. Recently another new church was started by that church in the village.”
Teaching Physical and Spiritual Health
With a smile on his face, Kaysan says he gets to works on a beautiful island. Yet there are great needs. The island has been totally unreached by the gospel. 90% of people cannot read or write. With a history of civil war in this country, people are poorly educated.
HIV is also a big problem. It spreads from immoral men who go out to cities to work and come back with the disease.
Kaysan saw opportunities to further spread the Good News. “I went to a school principal and asked if I could teach on HIV. Rather than doing it myself, I brought boys with me from the fellowships we started. Together we taught practical health lessons and we shared the love of God. We love this island. We want people to be free from HIV and sexual immorality.”
The combination of health teaching and Bible Stories has really caught on. Both need to be taught in simple, easy to understand ways.
“How do we start a Disciple-Making Movement among them? So few people read, we thought.
The Lord really uses storytelling! That’s how parents teach their children. That’s how things are passed on within their culture. We tell stories from Creation to Christ everywhere we go.”
“People are very open to Bible Stories. Our approach is called Discovery Bible Study. Our meeting place can be under a tree. Stories are first learned, then discussed, and then applied as they gather. Often after one story, we hear, ‘Tell us another story.’ And they go away to tell it to others themselves.”
An Emerging Leader
“A young man named Jamal said, ‘I want to learn more.’ He came to my house. He believed and started to follow Jesus. He also started to read the Bible. Jamal kept coming back to learn more and more.”
“Together Jamal and I go fishing. Most men in this tribe are fishermen. We do lots of things together. We fellowship while fishing. We go out to share our testimonies and Bible stories and help people.”
“Once Jamal asked, ‘Can I come to stay for a week?’ One morning at my house, I saw him reading. He looked up, ‘I want to take this throughout the island!’”
“He is off to a great start. Jamal led many to the Lord and started a simple church. That one church started four more new churches. This is what we do. We look for key people and invest, discipling them as disciple-makers.”
Changing World View
“The world view of these tribal people must change. Recognizing their needs, we prepare relevant stories to change their world view.”
“Here’s one example: I was born in a city not far from the island. The people from the city look down upon the people on the island. They hate them. It is only a 10-minute boat ride, 30-minute drive. But they are isolated. Tribalism divides us. These island people are despised people.”
“They believe the lies about them. They don’t believe they are smart. They don’t believe God could use them to do anything. Don’t believe God could turn them into disciple-makers. They are only simple fishermen.”
The Bible has the truth. “We taught the story of Jesus calling Peter. He was only a simple, uneducated fisherman. How could God use Peter? If he can, what steps should we take to bring about change in ourselves and change in our world? God speaks through His Word. His Holy Spirit brings it to life. God loves to use simple people!”
Investment with Eternal Rewards
Kaysan has invested his life in loving and serving a rejected people. Lives are being transformed.
“At this point, there are twelve gatherings of disciples. A couple of people trained to go to another end of the island. Now five are on that side of the island. It’s hard for us to keep track of how many believers we now have.”
“A lot of young people are involved. The movement is growing and spreading. Disciples are learning and telling, and making more disciples.”
Father God knew the right place to send his son Kaysan.
*not his real name