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As Pastor Andre prepared to return home from an evangelistic visit, two men emerged from the shadows and stopped him. As they drew nearer, the men glanced over their shoulders to confirm that no one was watching what they were about to do. Knowing that the Fulani people are deeply Muslim and often oppose Christianity, terror surged through Pastor Andre’s veins, and he braced himself for the worst.
Though the Fulani people live in Central African regions that are considered to be “reached” by the gospel, their people group is very unreached because they are so marginalized from society. Driven by compassion for these ostracized people, Encompass partner Pastor Andre goes out of his way to minister to them. And now here he was, about to be mugged by the very people he came to help.
Pastor Andre braced himself for the worst—but it turns out that these men just wanted to ask him questions about Jesus. Their reason for being so secretive was because they didn’t want to get caught inquiring about Christianity and then have to face persecution from their Muslim community. Pastor Andre let out a sigh of relief, and the young men actually asked if they could get in the car with him to ask more questions on his ride back home!
Andre let the young men join him in the car, and when he retells the story today he says, “Those two young men ended up becoming a part of our family.” He took them in and gave them money so they could start a small business and become financially independent. One of the young men ended up moving on relatively quickly, but the other stayed with Andre’s family for many years. His name is Jabari.*
Since they first met in 1997, Andre intentionally discipled him for years, and by 2005 Jabari had accepted Jesus and was baptized. Andre took Jabari to a Christian conference where he got to learn more about the gospel and experience God’s love through other believers there. Andre also took him to other Fulani villages where they evangelized together. As Jabari grew closer to Andre, he also grew closer to God.
Jabari’s life started changing too. In Fulani culture it’s common for people to engage in physical intimacy outside of marriage, but after Jabari became a believer his lifestyle changed. His family must have noticed the change, because one day his sister brought it up to Pastor Andre. Concerned that her brother was turning his back on his Fulani roots, she confronted Andre about it and even said, “Pastor, you’re not a good person.”
The region where Andre lives is continually afflicted by political turmoil, yet Jabari stayed under his discipleship for years. It was definitely a bittersweet moment when Jabari decided to move away. The two men had become family, yet it was time for the discipled to be sent out and become the discipler. Pastor Andre gave him his blessing and encouraged him to be a witness of God’s grace to everyone living in his new destination.
Andre and Jabari still remain close to this today, and Andre says, “I praise God for him.”
You never know when you might cross paths with someone who is seeking God. Father, help us to always be ready to bless those around us—even in situations where we wouldn’t normally expect it.
*Name changed for security