New relationships grow from an original Bible study contact.
“The souls of those whom we desire to save are like the representation which Ezekiel saw in vision – a valley of dry bones…We are to preach the word of life to those whom we may judge to be as hopeless subjects as though they were in their graves. Though they may seem unwilling to hear or to receive the light of truth, without questioning or wavering we are to do our part. We are to repeat to them the message.” Review and Herald, January 17, 1893.
A few months ago, Mama Evans expressed an interest in the Bible. She attended church and asked many questions. “Why don’t you dance and jump in your church?” she asked. “Why do you worship on Saturday, when everyone else does on Sunday?”
It was a joy to see that she was searching for answers. Suzan and I began to study the Bible with her. She could not understand how God could love her, but expressed her appreciation for His mercy.
“I need Jesus Christ,” Mama Evans spoke with clarity. She confided to us that she had many sins, and wanted to be rid of them. When we invited her to tell Him directly, she knelt down and invited Jesus to come into her heart and make her clean. Suzan and I were thrilled! We had never before had this kind of response from her village.
One day, Mama Evans asked us to pray for her. “Mother does not want me to go to church,” she explained. Then suddenly, she stopped attending. For two Sabbaths in a row, we heard that she went to a “grave celebration” up in Idege. This is where a new grave is erected to appreciate the dead for a supposed service—in this case, financial benefit thanks to a compensation from a wrongful death lawsuit. The event involves drums, dancing, feasting and alcohol.
We found that on most Sabbaths, Mama Evans was not even home. “She went drinking with friends,” her mother would explain.
On one occasion, Suzan found Mama Evans carrying timber. “Money is getting rare,” she answered Suzan’s inquiry. “I have to work.”
Eventually, we no longer visited her. Clearly, she was not interested in Christianity. Then one Sabbath, I felt the conviction to visit again. When we
arrived in the village, we found her mother, Bibi Alberto, sitting outside with two other elderly ladies, and a younger man I had never seen before. The alcohol on their breath was strong. A faded kitenge1 lay in front of them, full of sorghum for the next batch of alcohol. They would use anything to make the deadly brew—maize, sorghum, bamboo and even bananas!
Bibi Alberto explained that Mama Evans had just left for the tavern. It was out of the question to go to that terrible tavern, with its loud music and promiscuous
men and women. What should we do? I looked at Mama Edita, Mama Olefa and Bibi Alberto sitting in front of us. They were pitiful—dirty, smelly, inebriate. I
felt some repugnance. These ladies had heard our message before, and would not give up their pombe!2 But how would Jesus feel towards them? I remembered what I had read about the valley of the dry bones that morning, and took heart. God didn’t want us to give up.
We opened the Bible and read to them. With the help of Suzan for translation, I told them about the deep and unconditional love of God for them, and the sacrifice of His Son to save and restore us. All agreed that they faced fears, and needed forgiveness for their sins.
“I could give up the alcohol if I wanted to,” the young man said. “I’ve just never heard what you are saying. Continue talking,” he urged. “I do not know to do anything else but drink.”
I talked about how much Satan hates them, and tries to keep them from the salvation in Jesus Christ through diverse means, alcohol being one of them. “I want to accept Jesus Christ so that He can bring me to Heaven!” came the response.
The ladies, with whom we had already shared these truths, knew that this would mean the end of alcohol drinking. “Do not stop talking to us,” they petitioned. “We might not understand now, but one day we will. Come back.”
Later that day, it dawned on me that we might not drink alcohol, but we are all intoxicated with sin, whether it be pride, rebellion, selfishness, self-exaltation, doubt or unbelief. God must repeat the message of salvation to us over and over again, until we reach the point where we love Him so much, that we will turn away from our sin. Until this happens, we must hear the story of Jesus again and again.
1. Colorful piece of cloth
2. Locally brewed alcohol
Author: Nadege Vande Voort and her husband Elisha operate Eden Valley Foster Care Mission, a trade school for underprivileged youth in Tanzania. harvester2188 [at] gmail [dot] com; Box 17, Mafinga, Iringa, Tanzania.
How You Can Help
Pray for the Vande Voorts’ outreach in their home villages.
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Give to Elisha and Nadege’s mission. Send your check with “Eden Valley Foster Care Mission” in the memo to:
Outpost Centers International
5132 Layton Lane
Apison, TN 37302