The joy of serving together
By Victor Bajah
Oumar Mohammed was obeying God’s missionary call on his life to reach Muslims in Niger Republic. Considering the dangers, he felt God wanted him to go undercover. So he went alone, trusting God to show him, in time, which mission agency to go with.
As a lone ranger, Oumar suffered in many ways. He was often discouraged and had no one to share his life with. Though he desired spiritual counsel and fellowship, none was available, and this created a chasm in his heart. He also had no sustained financial support and could not afford even basic needs like food and clothing. He was also exposed to government bureaucracy that demanded corporate entities to provide papers for him to reside in the country.
Yearning for encouragement, he began crying out to God, “I need people who will encourage me, help me to grow and push me in fulfilling the will of God for my life.”
Living in Muslim communities was not new for Oumar. In fact, this ambassador of the gospel was born into a devout Islamic pedigree in Nigeria and raised among the Muslim Fulani people in his mother’s Yobe State. His parents went through a great deal to school him in Islam, expecting him to become an Islamic icon to be reckoned with.
When his father had only a few days to live, he summoned his three sons, as tradition demanded, to pass on gifts. He gave the most senior a Quran, the second brother was given his secret Tasbi, but no gift was given to Oumar. At his mother’s enquiry, the father explained that no human was good enough to hand gifts to Oumar; however, he would receive his gift from a supreme being instead.
After his father’s death, missionaries visited his village and worked as teachers in Oumar’s school. This was during a time of intense persecution of Christians. But their cover blew open when they were found sharing the gospel with students. This complicated their lives and those of many other Christians, and Oumar was one of their persecutors!
One night, Oumar had a strange dream. He saw himself holding hands with the missionaries and walking along a path. They met an old man who asked him, “Where are you going with this people?” Oumar answered, “To show them around since they are new here.” The old man instructed him, “You should hold on to them, for these are men of God.” When he awoke, he was confused! He went through his Islamic rituals, hoping that would take care of his strange dream, but he grew more scared of what would happen because of the dream.
He also felt compassion towards the missionaries. He resisted the feeling moving in his heart, but the more he resisted, the stronger it grew. He prayed to Allah fervently to remove the feelings and hinder the dream from coming true, but nothing changed and his restlessness grew, so he visited them. They were surprised, but showed him love. Soon the three men bonded so well that a day never went by without Oumar visiting to hear about Jesus Christ.
One night as Oumar was sleeping, he heard a voice instructing him repeatedly to trust the Lord Jesus. He woke and ran to the missionaries’ house, knocking rapidly on their door. They interrogated him about his purpose for coming in the middle of the night and Oumar explained his dreams and the voice, and they glorified God. That night Oumar placed his faith in the Lord Jesus and went home filled with joy and peace he had never felt before.
Oumar says, “After I accepted Jesus as my Lord and Saviour, I denounced Islam and every one of its rituals and ways. I have felt very different ever since. However, it gave birth to unprecedented enmity between me and my brothers, friends, and people in the community. I was subjected to every kind of humiliation.”
Oumar was marked for death, and intense persecution broke out on Christians in the village. Oumar escaped with his life but his irate family followed and took him back forcefully, intending to kill him. But the Lord opened a way of escape to the city of Jos. Christians there helped him and Oumar had the opportunity to undergo discipleship training and then attend Bible school.
CALL TO MINISTRY
Oumar recalls God’s voice through Isaiah 61:1, backed by several dreams, in which he saw himself telling Muslims about the love of Christ and teaching them God’s Word. As he read God’s Word, he concluded the Lord wanted him to reach his Muslim brothers, such as Fulani, Kanori and Hausas in Niger Republic. So he set out, alone and undercover.
But in time, he began crying out to God, “I cannot do this work alone! I need brethren who will push me forward.”
The Lord answered his prayer and today he serves with the missions agency, SIM Niger. Much has changed since he began working in a team. His needs are better managed and cared for and the work is easier and better when done as a team.
That ministry has grown and today there is a discipleship centre for new believers who are facing persecution, including threats to life. The new Christians are given theological education, vocational training and other studies, then released back to their origins to share the gospel.
Oumar believes obedience is key to serving the Lord, and going alone on the field is not a good idea because no one can do God’s work alone. Much is done when the work is done together. He says, “The joy of serving the Lord together cannot be expressed with words, it can only be felt when we do it.”