2015 February 3
Dear friends and family,
In the last newsletter, we asked you to pray for the evangelistic meetings taking place from December 28 - January 8. Thank you for your prayers! About ten people, including several of our own students, decided to dedicate their lives to God and to prepare for baptism as a result of those meetings. We have started two Bible study groups for those in two villages who are interested in preparing for baptism.
In the next email, we'll share more about what happened after the meetings. But before that, we would like to share another story of a drunk man. On my way to the meeting one evening, I stopped as usual along the way to pick up passengers. Crippled lady got in. The chief's daughter and her children got in.
Then my heart sank. Another drunk man. He saw people piling into the vehicle and wobbled toward me shouting at the top of his lungs, "I'm the chief of the land, give me money! Give me 500 francs (about $1)! I'm going to your place for New Years!"
One-legged lady was trying to get into the vehicle and the drunk man tried to force his way in. I held my arms out and tried to keep him from getting in. I insisted, "Let this old lady get in. She needs to find her place." Then I proceeded to close one door. When the drunk man saw that his chance was almost up, he forced me away and climbed into the vehicle before I could close the other door. Nobody wanted him. He stunk. He was obnoxious. He was loud. He was rude. I tried convincing him with words to leave. He wouldn't leave. I tried grabbing his arm and pulling him out. He wouldn't leave. Finally I asked the passengers what they wanted me to do. One man said, "We don't want him. But if he won't leave, let's just go with him. Maybe he will not stay with us when we have the meeting."
"For his man Jesus died," was the thought that rang through my head.
"OK, let's go," I said, and we rolled down the road. Thinking I could trick the drunk man, I stopped at a mango tree where people normally collect to drink their sorghum wine. The place was empty, but I opened the back door of the vehicle and said, "Here's your place. You can get out now." He scowled at me and wouldn't budge. "I'm going to your place," he grumbled.
"Well, that technique didn't work," I think to myself as the passengers chuckle at my failed attempt, "we'd better get going before we are late."
Arriving at the site, we all got out of the vehicle and drunk man found a prominent place to sit in the front row of benches. I find a place toward the back. People are wondering why I brought such a drunk to the meetings. I am a bit embarrassed.
After some singing and opening prayer, Jarius, one of our students, begins his health talk with an invitation, "Please listen as I read Proverbs 23:29-35."
"29 Who has woe? Who has sorrow? Who has contentions? Who has complaints? Who has wounds without cause? Who has redness of eyes? 30 Those who linger long at the wine, Those who go in search of mixed wine. 31 Do not look on the wine when it is red, When it sparkles in the cup, When it swirls around smoothly; 32 At the last it bites like a serpent, And stings like a viper. 33 Your eyes will see strange things, And your heart will utter perverse things. 34 Yes, you will be like one who lies down in the midst of the sea, Or like one who lies at the top of the mast, saying: 35 'They have struck me, but I was not hurt; They have beaten me, but I did not feel it. When shall I awake, that I may seek another drink?' "
As the words sound across the gathered crowd, people keep looking toward the drunk man and snickering. The drunk man keeps shaking his head and looks this way and that way, obviously annoyed. Jarius continues his health talk about the affects and dangers of alcohol. Then the drunk man bursts into a flurry of words, interrupting Jarius: "Why are you teaching this? I bought some grain for my wife and she refused to make me alcohol. It is all because of you and your teaching." Several students try to calm him down.
Then another student presented the theme of the night: the nature of man and how we have hope of changing our characters through the power of Jesus.
At the end we had our drawing for three books: The Bible, The Great Controversy, and Steps to Christ. The number in the Bible was 32. Nobody chose that number. I flipped to a page randomly to read the page number for a random number, but the number was too big. I flipped to another page number: page 10. "Who has number 10?" we ask, as everybody tries to read the number they chose. Several people do not know how to read, so some of us help them read their numbers. Drunk man shows the crumpled number he chose:
We all sort of shout, sort of laugh, sort of gasp in amazement. None of us wanted this poor specimen of humanity with us. He interrupted the sermon several times, and he got super mad at the neighbor during the sermon when the neighbor refused his request for alcohol. Now he is the one to win the Bible! When he saw that he won the Bible, he leaped into the air and began dancing, "I'm the chief of the land, I'm the chief of the land, and I am the one who won the Bible." He ran down the road like a mad man. Then he returned leaping and dancing down the road the other way. Then he returned to claim his Bible.
I no longer feel embarrassed. I feel humbled. Perhaps this was the only way the man would hear the Gospel and get a Bible. And I, the missionary, was unknowingly trying to hinder God's work. Obviously God has a plan for him. Pray that we will not get in the way of God's plans and that we will be open to Him working, even in non-conventional ways. Pray that he will find somebody who is willing to read to him so that he can hear the Word of God.
Since that night, I have not seen the man again. But I am sure that the end of this story has yet to be written... Thank you for praying that the Holy Spirit will work in this man's life and that he will give his life to God.
In His service,
Jonathan and Melody and Gideon Dietrich