God’s sheep hear His voice (From Mark and Parker in West Africa)
2) Wide sowing equals wide reaping.
Practically this simply means that we speak the name of Jesus boldly and often in places it’s never been spoken and to people who’ve never heard it.
These came about from years of ministry among the Songhai and seeing the same words being received differently. As we shared Christ in a group, there would be 2 who got up and left, 2 who ignored us, and 2 who were acting as if they were hearing the voice of their Father! We shouldn’t be surprised by this. In fact, these presuppositions are nothing new and are based on Jesus’ parable of the sower. The point is that our job is to share the name of Jesus and trust God for the fruit.
I am writing this after seeing it displayed on two separate occasions in two different villages.
Sam in Boubon:
We had the first believer in Boubon accept Christ a few weeks before the May Living Hope team came. One of our national partners had led him to Christ and our LH team spent the week discipling him. We were all amazed at how fast he was growing. He is almost 60 years old and he can read. These are two things that separate him from 90% of our other believers. After the team left we got the whole story about Sam.
He told us that around 20 years ago he had some interaction with a Nigerian Christian in Niamey. This man didn’t really share his faith with Sam but he did give him a New Testament. So for 20 years Sam has been reading this New Testament but not really understanding it. Then we sent 2 national partners to Boubon to live for 3 months.
As one of them was walking by Sam’s house, Sam called out to him and said, “Why are you here?’ Our partner was a little worried he’d run across an iman or maribou who wanted to pick a fight. But our partner answered boldly “I’ve come to tell people about Jesus, the Messiah.” Sam’s heart leapt as he said, “Please come tell me about him, I’ve been waiting for 20 years to understand who Jesus is.” Sam became a new creation that day.
David in Kouli Kwaara:
We’ve spent the past week in KK painting a clinic but also sharing in the village. There have been some obvious attacks on our group and our time. Yesterday, our two translators were not able to go out in the village and story so my initial thought was, “Let’s just hit the clinic really hard and finish the painting.” However, I asked if some of the group wanted to story and they said, “Yes,” so off we went. I had seen a group of women and children (since most the men were out farming) and was heading to talk to them. But a man came to us out of his compound and was greeting us.
We went through the typical greetings and I was still planning on going to the women’s group when he said, “Wa kokari,” which means something like “take courage” or maybe more appropriately “you’re really doing something good here.” He said, “You need to change the children [this generation] with your message, they need to hear it.” I responded that he was right but that he too needed this message.
His eyes sort of lit up and he scurried into his house to produce a mat for us to sit on. He called all his children onto the mat to listen to our story. You could just see each of the words sinking into his heart. When we got towards the end he exclaimed, “I believe, I want Jesus!” This 56 year old man became a new creation yesterday. He said that he would now lead his whole family to find salvation in Jesus as well. He said he’d been waiting for 3 years for someone to explain the story of Jesus to him after receiving a cassette that many years ago.
So why do Sam and David respond to the Gospel when so many others don’t? I don’t know.
Why did God use the same dream 4 nights in a row to call Ibrahim but not Alassan? I don’t know.
I don’t know how God’s sovereignty and human responsibility work together but that’s sort of the way mysteries work: they’re mysterious.
But one thing I’ve learned in 5 years of ministry among the Songhai is that God’s sheep hear His voice. The only problem is that there aren’t enough people looking for those sheep. How many more have waited 3 years or 20 years for someone to come and tell them about Jesus. Will you be one of the ones to carry the name of Jesus to those who’ve never heard?