Over the past few months, we have asked you to pray for the political situation in the Central African Republic (C.A.R.), where the Grace Brethren have ministered for more than 100 years. A coup has upset the government, creating havoc for the citizens of the country.
Yesterday, one story of God’s grace was reported by Encompass World Partners (formerly Grace Brethren International Missions). A portion of it is reprinted here. Click here to read the complete story.
Pastor Abakar, a former M*sl*m and graduate from the Bible Institute, ministers among the Fulani and pastors a church near the town of Boali (90 km from Bangui). He shared his testimony of God’s grace in his life yesterday demonstrating the power of your prayers.
He rode his motorcycle to a pastor’s meeting in nearby Boali. While traveling back to his church, he was stopped by a group of Seleka rebels who blocked the road with their vehicle. They brought him to their Colonel who began asking questions. When they heard his name and his title as a pastor, they were very angry with him. The Colonel said that a M*sl*m who resigned from his faith must be put in death. He said to him three times: “There is no question, you must be put to death because you have denied your faith.”
Abakar stayed quiet but began praying to God to intervene.
The Colonel then asked, “Now tell me, as a Pastor do you also pray in Arabic?” When Abakar replied that he did, the Colonel said he would come to his church on Sunday to hear him preach in Arabic and then released him.
On Sunday only 55 members came to the church (many hid themselves in the bush). They started the church service and five minutes later, the Colonel and 21 Seleka rebels arrived with their truck full of guns. Pastor Abakar welcomed them to the church. The Colonel said that he would stay outside and listen to him preach in Arabic. One of the Seleka asked if he could go inside the church to see. The Pastor invited him inside but asked him to leave his gun outside with the others and take off the kufiya cloth covering his head. He entered the church and stayed near the Pastor during the entire church service.
In light of the situation, Pastor Abakar decided to change his sermon and preach on John 3:16 and the love of God. In his sermon he said the Seleka were God’s creation, Jesus loves them and wants them to be part of his kingdom if they turn to him. He said that Christians must show God’s love to the Seleka instead of blaming them or rejecting them. The message was delivered in Sango and in Arabic.
After his sermon, the Colonel came to him and asked if he could say a few words. He was pleased with the theme of love spoken by the Pastor and said that most Christians don’t show the love of God to non-Christians. He said he had heard good things about Pastor Abakar from the Fulani in the villages of Lambi and Boali. He heard how Pastor Abakar has helped the Fulani people and had defended them several times when they were mistreated by police, military and the government authorities.
The Colonel than took the offering basket and counted the money given during the offering which totaled $8.44. He turned to the congregation and said, “Is it the way you take care of your Pastor? How can your Pastor support his family and meet his needs with this amount of money you have given? It is a shame to see Christians treat their Pastors in such a way.” He then took $22.00 from his own pocket and put it into Abakar’s pocket saying, “This is for you.”
After the church service the deacons and the Pastor shared tea and bread with the Seleka before they returned to their camp. Many people in the village watched from a distance in fear. The villagers were amazed because of God’s protection of the Pastor and the miracles they had seen.
The following Sunday a Fulani man came to him and said, “I am part of the Seleka. I have heard good things about you from the people and chiefs in this village. I know you are very special and I want to become like you. I want you to help me believe in Jesus.”