Close to a year and a half ago, I was on my motorbike heading out to a village about 45 mins away. I had been doing some bible stories out there and visiting people – so I was regularly riding past a bunch of villages to get to this place out near the Malawi border. One day on my way out there, a young man of about 18 flagged me down and said, “My dad wants to know where you are going all the time and he wants you to visit him”. So on the way home that day, I stopped at his hut. There were 3 older guys in the back yard including the chief I’ll name Bob* (not his real name), so I sat and greeted and we discussed who I was and what I was doing. They said that they had seen me before at various funerals. I learned that the man who had sent his son to flag me down was the chief of the village. I explained that I had been travelling to the distant village as I had been invited there to share the word and stories of God. When the chief heard this he said, “Well you must come to this village also and share the word of God!”
I went back the following week at the agreed time and we sat under a tree to begin a series of stories – starting with creation and finishing many months later with Pentecost. As with most places I’ve been, the first story attracted a large crowd as people wanted to see what the white people were doing and whether or not they really could speak Ciyawo? Each week I would head out there and we would sit and share bible stories, enjoy friendship or learn cultural lessons. There was always an adventure to be had and I never really knew what to expect. I’ve had opportunity to pray for people, visit farms and ride my motorbike on slippery tracks through torrential downpours. I saw a hunger for God’s word and God working through answers to prayer and the friendships that were formed. The groups were varying sizes and in different locations but the constant was always the chief.
In march this year I headed out to the chief’s village knowing I was going to finish the series of stories I had planned to share. I knew there was going to be an opportunity to ask him his response to the Good News and I spent time praying and discussing this with other experienced cross-cultural workers. I finished the stories of the resurrection and ascension and we sat and chatted for a bit. I then stopped and said, “So now that you’ve heard the stories and you’ve heard God’s plan, what is your response?” He paused then said, “I lift my hands up to Jesus and say come and forgive what is in my heart. I will now follow the path of Jesus.” Wow! What a moment for a 68 year old man to come to! He told me there had been a change in his heart as he had been learning and hearing the stories of the Bible. He said that the time when he got his son to stop me on the motorbike was when his heart was not in a good place, but that God had a plan by sending him stories of God’s plan through Jesus.
Two weeks later I went to visit at his farm in the bush. We sat and discussed various things, from the floods down south and farming, to a wide-ranging discussion on God and Jesus. He passionately explained to his wife what it means for Jesus to forgive what’s in your heart so that he can bring real freedom that not even money can buy. He explained that there’s only one path to God and that Jesus is the doorway that you must enter through! After we spent time discussing these things I asked his wife if she would also like to begin a new path and have Jesus forgive what’s in her heart? She also said yes to Jesus! The chief explained that his other wife is also “holding on to the pathway of Jesus” and that he has 4 young men who want to come and hear the stories of Jesus.