2015 February 3
Dear friends and family,
When God's work moves forward, Satan becomes unhappy. The more earnest we are in God's work, the more earnest Satan is in his work. We are in a war against good and evil. And although God has already determined Satan's fate, sometimes there are casualties in the battles. The stories below tell about three chiefs who have expressed their desire to follow Jesus. In each case, the Devil is not happy.
One of our students during the two-month training in Dabgue was Mummat Jean, chief of Dabgue Ngolo. Though probably in his 70s, he previously attended a couple of our trainings and continued to be hungry and thirsty for the Word of God. He faithfully attended classes until about the sixth week, when he got sick with malaria. Strangely, he also began to get weak on his left side. By the time the malaria was treated he had worsened, and within two weeks he was almost completely paralyzed on his left side. Previously active and relatively healthy, our friend is now an invalid who lies on a mat, completely dependent on his family for everything from eating to bathing to dressing. The devil is not happy with his commitment to follow God and has stricken him with disease. Please pray that Mummat will remain faithful to Jesus in spite of his serious trials.
I want to tell you about a new friend of mine. I just met the new chief of Dabgue Mbassa late last year during our training. We are trying to arrange the papers for the church land, and we met with the new chief to start the process. He is the younger brother of the chief who gave us the land on which the Dabgue church stands. We had a good talk with the new chief. He invited us to conduct our evangelistic campaign in front of his house near the center of the village.
He faithfully attended the meetings nearly every night and listened with interest. At the end of the meetings, he publicly expressed his desire to give his heart to God and to be baptized soon. The next day when our pastor went to visit him, they talked for quite a while. He asked pastor how he could fix his life and that he desired to give his heart to God and be baptized.
A week later, we were scheduled to visit the village of Broum Tousou on Sabbath with pastor. We were dressed and ready to leave when I received a phone call. "The chief of Dabgue is dead." At first, I believed it was Mummat, but soon learned that it was actually the new chief of Dabgue Mbassa. "The same one who just gave his life to God?" I verified. "Yes, that's the one." Apparently the chief was in a coma at the hospital when our chaplain prayed over him and he came out of a coma long enough for him to repeat his desire to follow Christ. Shortly thereafter, he returned to a coma and died. "Can you come up to the hospital with your vehicle and bring his body home for the last time?" the voice on the other line said. "I'll be right there," I replied with a heavy heart.
Not wanting to wait until I arrived, the family had already decided to send the body home a moto, so I loaded the vehicle full with the family and drove down to the village. The body had just arrived and they were washing it and preparing it for the viewing. Streams of mourners arrived. Family members tied bands of cloth around their heads and waists (a symbol of war) to show that they were ready to die with their chief. When the body was washed, we had a prayer with the men by the body and returned to search pastor and some other church members.
When we returned, a huge crowd had already gathered and was wailing and weeping loudly together. They had propped up the chief in his chair under the tree, complete with his glasses and cap. If I just glanced briefly, I would have thought he was just sitting there. It was like his last day at his job. People streamed by, coming to say good-bye forever to their chief. The hopelessness of these people is portrayed especially clearly at times like this by their weeping and utter grief overwhelms them and they wail uncontrollably.
As the chief had just given his life to God, there was no other church group ready to support the funeral, so our church members started singing, singing, and singing some more. At times, the mourning drowned out the singers and they got discouraged. At other times, the mourning mostly stopped and the mourners joined in with the singing. As I observed, I could so easily imagine the conflict between good and evil, between Christ and Satan. We are singing songs of hope and comfort. Then another wave of hopeless wailing overwhelms the crowd and they break out in weeping. Then the singers find new courage and sing louder and lead the crowd again into singing. As the singers became weary, I brought in reinforcements of young people from the Bere church who stayed the entire night.
The next day, returning to pick up the church people, I learned that the old chief (the brother of the one who just died) was gravely ill. He has recently been coming to church and also attended our meetings and expressed his desire to follow Jesus. I was led to a little room where he was lying on a mat, already nearly unconscious. Just like his brother, he had been walking around normally and then was suddenly struck with illness. With a heavy but prayerful heart, I opened the door of our vehicle as the family loaded a now-unconscious man into the seat.
As we drove to the hospital, "God," I prayed, "what is going on? I don't understand. But I know that You have the power to give life and to take it away. You know the future and what is best in each situation. Please do what You know is best. But if possible, I ask that you please allow this chief to live so that his life will be a testimony to You."
At the hospital the nurse hooked up an IV. Once there was nothing else I could do to help, I left him in the care of the nurse and his family and went home to get a little rest.
The next day I drove down to Dabgue to get Mammat Jean, the half-paralyzed chief. A specialist was at the hospital for one week, and I wanted to see if there was anything that could be done for Mammat. After a consultation, it was determined that there was little that could be done. Brain surgery in this non-sterile environment would likely result in death. Doing nothing will also likely result in death. Mammat, upon learning this information simply replied, "We'll just leave it in God's hands. Let's go home."
Before leaving, I wanted to visit the old chief in a coma. Arriving at his bed, I was surprised to see him sitting up and smiling at me! I shook his hand and asked him how he was doing. "I'm doing a little better now," he replied. "I can see that! Praise God!" I said. The nurse came by and said, "I think he can go home today."
Shall I continue? I cannot, because this story is very long already. There are three other funerals within hearing distance of our house. If I did not understand the message of hope that God has given us in His Word, I would probably become discouraged unto death. But we do not need to become discouraged!
1 Thessalonians 4:13-14 says, "But I do not want you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning those who have fallen asleep, lest you sorrow as others who have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who sleep in Jesus."
We have this bright message of hope to share with people everywhere! When people experience discouragement, we find opportunities to bring encouragement. When people are surrounded in darkness, we have opportunities to share light with them. When people experience Satan's work and power, we have opportunities to point people to Jesus' work and His power. When people are hopeless, we have opportunities to share hope. When people are afraid of death, we can show them how to accept the wonderful gift of eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. When people are trembling with fear at the attacks of the roaring lion Satan, we can share with them that Jesus is stronger and that He has already gained the victory.
Please pray that the villages in which we have been working will not fear the attacks of the devil, but will put their faith and hope in God!
In His service,
Jonathan and Melody and Gideon Dietrich