In November I preached at a crusade in Kahama, Tanzania. In the crowd there was a young Muslim man named Abdul. He was in training to become a Muslim leader. He spent eight years in a Muslim school in Uganda. Then his family sent him to three years of training at a Muslim school in Pemba, Zanzibar. He spent another year of school in Mombasa, Kenya. Finally, he was awarded a scholarship to a program for teaching Muslim imams in the nation of Oman. He was scheduled to go to Oman in January and when he returned he would be appointed as a sheik (leader) in the Muslim community in Tanzania.
Right before he was scheduled to leave for Oman, Abdul had an encounter with Jesus Christ. The crusade director in Kahama was evangelist Jacob Ebersole. He met Abdul on the street several times before the crusade began and each time he witnessed to him and invited him to the crusade. Jacob said, “About a week before the crusade was going to start, I saw Abdul walking down the road with the biggest smile on his face, and he said ‘Jacob, I want to give my life to Jesus, but if I do I am going to lose my family and friends.’” Jacob explained to him that even if he lost his family, he would gain an army of people who love him. That day, Abdul prayed to receive Jesus.
Abdul attended the crusade and saw the miracles each night. He says, “When they were preaching the Gospel, something happened to my life…something happened to my heart…I didn’t understand…but it was happiness.” By the time the crusade was finished, Abdul was fully convinced that Jesus is the Son of God. He filled out a decision card and received a book about salvation.
Pastor Emmanuel, one of the local pastors, received Abdul’s decision card and followed up with him. Pastor Emmanuel invited Abdul to come to his church and to attend discipleship classes. After attending discipleship classes every night for twenty-one days, Abdul asked to be baptized. Pastor Emmanuel baptized him and gave him a new Christian name as a symbol of his new life in Christ. Abdul’s new name is Elijah.
Abdul Becomes Elijah
When the family of Abdul heard about the baptism, they became angry. They threatened his life. They kicked him out of his home and he lost his job working for a Muslim shopkeeper. The family tried to kidnap him and send him away to a Muslim school. They even went to the police and filed a report saying that he had gone crazy because they thought the only way a Muslim would become a Christian was if he was insane.
Abdul (now Elijah) had nowhere to go so he asked Pastor Emmanuel for help. Pastor Emmanuel made a place for him in his own house. He fed him, gave him clothes, and found him a job. He kept Elijah hidden from the Muslim radicals who were searching for him. Pastor Emmanuel explains, “He is like my son.”
Pastor Emmanuel continued to disciple Elijah. When I returned to Tanzania in June for another crusade I met with both of them. They were helping to organize a crusade in Dodoma. At this crusade, Elijah served as a counselor to pray with new believers. During the altar call, he had the opportunity to pray with three other Muslims who decided to follow Jesus. God is already using Elijah to reach other people who grew up with similar beliefs.
When I met Elijah, I was struck by the huge smile he had on his face. Despite the many challenges that come when someone leaves the religion one is born into, he is full of love for Jesus. He says, “Since I gave my life to Jesus, I am so happy!”
Please pray for Elijah and others like him who need Jesus. Thank you for partnering with us! It is because of your generosity that we are able to make a difference in the lives of people like Elijah.
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