Last weekend at White Oak we wrapped up a sermon series entitled No Matter What. We spent a few weeks looking at women in the Bible who moved closer in trust and surrender to God when no one would have blamed them for turning and walking the other way. This series followed another one from earlier in the spring which we called Say Yes. Throughout this time, our White Oak family was challenged to turn our hearts to the things God wants to do in and through us.
This past February, a group from White Oak visited Senegal in West Africa to see the ministry of Tom and Suja Brane and Minta Berry. This team makes up the WOCC ministry partner called Impact Africa. The ministry work being done includes Tom doing training for farmers using techniques and principles that come from the Bible such as honoring God with the work of your hands and working with him to produce a harvest. Tom’s base of operations is Beersheba Farm. Suja is connected to several medical clinics where she sees patients, offers care, and advocates for them to receive further medical care. Minta is teaching English at a girl’s school. All these ministries are reaching into the lives of families who do not know Jesus but who are being exposed to his love and grace through Impact Africa.
Suja, Tom, and Minta said YES to the things God is inviting them into. I want to share a story with you of a woman who said YES to Jesus which Suja shared in a recent newsletter:
On a visit to give our condolence on the death of her 1 year old granddaughter, Djira accepted Jesus as her Lord and Savior. She said YES! to Jesus!! (lady sitting on the floor in the photo)
Two weeks ago, I invited you to pray for a home visit that our clinic staff would be doing to give our condolences for the loss of a 1 year old patient named Salimata. WOW, was God ever present in unimaginable ways. How He took our grieving and turned it literally into dancing as only He can do!
As we entered their courtyard, Djira, Salimata’s grandmother, greeted us with a BIG smile. She was excited to see us but little did we know what God had in store that afternoon. As we sat and listened to her share, Djira explained to us how several years ago, she attended an evangelism campaign near her village hosted by the church at Beersheba. Something happened within her as she was drawn to Christ but she was very limited in her ability to pursue her new found interest and love for Jesus.
Though she had a deep desire to attend the church at Beersheba, her Muslim sons forbade her from attending. But that did not stop Djira from growing in her love for Jesus. She explained to us how she stopped praying the Muslim prayers and began praying in Jesus’s name inside her home. She remained faithful over the last couple years despite minimal interactions with other Christians. That left me speechless.
Who was there to encourage her, to teach her, to instill spiritual truths within her through the joys and trails of the last couple years? Jesus!
It was a meaningful afternoon of encouraging and spurring Djira in her faith as it cumulated with Djira accepting Jesus as her Lord and Savior. What greater JOY is there!!
As I reflect back on Salimata’s short life, I am left humbled at the mysterious ways in which God works. Her quality of life was very poor due to her hydrocephalus. In the world’s eyes, she offered nothing to this world. She came and left quietly in a very short time. But God, in the mysterious ways He works, used her life and death to bring salvation to her grandmother. And not only that but Salimata’s mother, Kama, and her aunt are very open to Christ. However, they are meeting much resistance from their family.
No matter what. I am deeply moved by Djira’s story. I am humbled to hear stories of those at WOCC who are saying “yes” to the things God is doing around here (those who are surrendering to Jesus through baptism, generously giving their resources, serving others in ways that stretch them, etc.). I am confident that our Heavenly Father is inviting each of us into something new; Something that requires us to surrender more; Something that calls us out of fear and into trust.
I am praying for the strength of the Spirit in me to produce new things in me. I invite you to pray for that, too.
White Oak Christian Church