Old man Nineveh
An 84 year old man called “old man Nineveh” the patriarch of a large family of several generations that made up a small village in the jungles of Liberia had been praying asking God to tell him who Jesus is and God answered him in a dream or vision showing him a man walking into his village who would explain who Jesus is. For three years Old Man Nineveh waited and trusted expecting this man to come when one day he saw a man walking out of the bush towards his village.
He ran out to greet him and sure enough this man had come to tell him about Jesus —it was Pastor Eric Sumo–the Executive Director of Village Ministries (now Vision Impact Liberia.) Old man Nineveh heard the Gospel from Eric and believed in Jesus Christ that very day. He called all his family and almost everyone of them accepted Christ. Three days later Old Man Nineveh passed away into the presence of his Lord and Saviour.
When God calls us to act for Him, we must be obedient as someone is depending on us to share the Gospel and it may be their only opportunity.
A grateful Liberia tailor
With the Mercy Ships nursing team, Helen Fletcher visited Lucine a tailor in Claratown, outside of Monrovia, whose wife recently had died as the hospital ship could not help her. We had emptied the Mercy Ship’s warehouse in Monrovia and had brought a sewing machine for him. On our arrival he told us his neighbour would no longer allow him to borrow hers as something was broken and he was so delighted to receive his own machine.
We prayed for him and his grandchildren then his sister read from scripture written in Arabic. Helen asked him if he had his own Bible in Arabic to which he replied, “no”. Helen promised to get him one in Canada and bring it back with her the next year. She introduced him to Pastor Washington who had a church in his neighbourhood where Lucine and his grandchildren could attend. On returning the next year, Helen found Lucine with the help of Pastor Washington.
He had remarried, and was so proud to show us his little shop which he bought from the proceeds of his sewing where he was able to sell clothes and his wife could sell coal, to support his grandchildren. Helen gave him his Bible in Arabic and together they sat in his shop looking at different verses explaining salvation, the gift from Jesus Christ. He said he was happy that his grandchildren were attending Pastor Washington’s church and promised he would go too. I truly felt God love flow through me to Lucine and perhaps in heaven, Pastor Washington can help me find him.
When we make promises, and keep them our testimony will be well received for Jesus’ sake.
The Outreach that God organized
In 2009 we had three vocational schools running. One was in Kakatown where ladies were taking tailoring and cooking. All students watch the Jesus Film and in this school of 125 Muslim women, 27 women accepted Christ and became Christians. One was the wife of the Imam of a village of 1000 Muslims who was not happy that his wife was being taught the Christian doctrine in her school. But she soon began to cook very good meals for him, sew clothes for him, show him more love and obey his every word and testified that after seeing in the film what God’s Son did for her she decided to be a follower. The Imam phoned Pastor Eric and said “I don’t know what is in that Jesus Film but you need to show it in our village.”
Eric called Helen in Victoria to see if she could raise the money needed to rent the equipment, gas for the vehicle and food for Eric and two Pastors who were once Muslims and able to give their testimony in Arabic, and for a safe place for them to sleep. The money was raised in two days and arrived Friday morning. The men traveled that day found a ‘hotel’ an hour from the village and arrived in the village before dark. The grateful Imam invited them to set up in front of the Mosque which they did. The elders in the village were angry with the Imam and several tried to stop Eric but the Imam intervened. During evening prayers the elders poisoned him and since he was vomiting blood he was taken to hospital.
After the viewing of the Jesus Film right in front of the Mosque doors, 86 villagers accepted Christ, after the second night 153 more. It was dark and pouring rain when Eric and the pastors had left for their own accommodation when their car slipped in the mud and crashed into a tree. Thankfully the car damage was minor. They prayed most of the night and visited the Imam in the morning and God had prepared his heart to accept the gift of salvation. The third night people from other villages were arriving including a pastor who told Eric, “I have been trying to be allowed to minister in this village for ten years, how did you manage to get in here?” This village was heavily controlled by the occult shamans and soothsayers.
Now the bondage had been broken in a village that has never before allowed the Christian witness in. After the Jesus Film 268 people accepted Christ, a total of 507 out of 1000 people —a majority. Pastor Eric then asked the Elders what they thought about the choices of so many of their villagers and they said, “If you want to build a church here you can”. With that the Imam, who had been fired from his position, said, ‘we can bring the chairs from the mosque and put them under this tree for a service.’ Eric returned the next Sunday to hold a worship service and began to teach from the Bible. The Pastor who had tried to witness to this village was willing to be the Pastor for this new church, preaching on Sundays and teaching on Wednesdays. This was October 2010 and Pastor Eric returned to hold New Year’s services and found the church was still thriving.
In ministry, we say we partner with God but in this story we realized God was the planner and coordinator and we had to scramble to do our part. What an amazing outcome for one weekend.
All things working together
Nothing is impossible with God, and yet when He does something incredible we are delighted, but surprised.
Pastor Eric was invited to give the Sunday message at one of our 10 churches about three hours from Monrovia. It was raining heavily as he drove and when he arrived he dashed into the church to join in worship with the congregation. The rain was coming through the old roof onto the dirt floor in many places making it difficult for everyone to find a dry place to sit. At the end of the message the leadership pleaded with Eric to get some funds to replace the roof. Knowing Village Ministries had no funds in Monrovia, Eric replied, “let us ask God to supply this need”.
He prayed with the congregation who trusted God.
The same Sunday, seven hours later in a church service in Victoria, a Christian woman sitting beside Helen Fletcher, had been collecting coins for the last four years gave the money to Helen Fletcher during the church service.  It was $400.00, exactly the amount needed to replace the zinc roof. Helen wondered though, “how will I pay the sending fee and the USD exchange to get it there?”  When the person sitting on the other side of her handed her $50.00 saying, “I have been meaning to give this to you for weeks.” The money was sent on Sunday from Victoria and on Monday Eric collected it and phoned the Pastor to send someone in to pick up the bundles of zinc to replace their roof! In recounting the whole story to the donors, Helen could not hold back the tears of appreciation for the marvelous way God met this need to remind us how much He cares for His children and to increase our faith in Jehovah Jireh.
God’s timing . . .
One of the early lessons the Holy Spirit taught Eric and I was that our being separated by geographic distances makes no difference to how He can work in our lives. With Eric in the Internet Cafe, using their wifi and looking over my emails we were discussing over the phone the decisions we should make when it was closing time and Eric had to leave. He packed up his computer and asked me to call him back in 20 minutes. I waited and then called him back.
He did not answer but I was determined he needed to answer so I let the phone ring.
Unknown to me, as Eric left the cafe he was accosted by six ex child soldiers with knives and they demanded Eric’s computer and cell phone. Not wanting any violence he handed them over just as two policemen came around the corner. The policemen grabbed the youths and yelled out the question, “don’t you know who this is?’. “This is Pastor Eric who spends time on the streets praying with you guys, and helping people who need food, now give him his computer back!” The computer was swiftly returned and Eric quietly asked for his cell phone too which the ex child soldiers denied having. “Of course you have it”, the policeman bellowed, “I can hear it ringing in your pocket!” That was Helen letting the phone just keep ringing . . . and I’m so glad I did.
Walking into danger
On one of our outreaches we were returning down a path to the waiting canoe to cross the river back to our cars when I flung out my hand for the group to stop as I heard the buzzing of many bees! As we rounded the corner we saw them swarming on a branch—thousands of them! The branch was overhanging the pathway and several stray bees were flying around in the spaces next to the branch, practically blocking our passage. We were informed they were African “killer” bees; five stings would put you in hospital and 15 would kill you. Great! Recalling my Junior High science class I remembered, ‘swarming bees do not attack.’ I sure hoped that was true. There was a pause when no one in our group moved. Then I knew we just had make a run for it so I ran through the space that held the least number of bees and no bees followed me but the rest of the group realized it was safe to follow and they all ran through behind me. We were grateful to God our true shield and defender.