Jesus: the name was familiar. Samba* remembered a group of Christians coming to his village in Mali to talk about a man called Jesus. They’d spoken about His miracles. They’d said that He was going to return. Samba had just been a child at the time. He wanted to know more about this Jesus, but his father told him not to think any more about it.
A seed of disappointment
But as Samba grew up, he found he just couldn’t stop thinking about it. And about religion in general. He had more and more questions about Islam. “You are a Muslim son. You should not give up on your father’s religion”, his father told him. Samba was particularly troubled when he thought about death and what would happen next. And on that account, his parents could offer him no reassurance. Would he have done enough good to get to heaven? They had no certainty. A seed of disappointment took root in his heart.
Then in 2013, Samba met Daniel*. They were classmates, and soon became good friends. Daniel was a Christian. There was something about his life that impressed Samba – his behaviour, his attitudes. They often got into discussions about religion. Daniel regularly told him that he could be forgiven and saved by giving his life to Jesus and tried to convince him to do so. Samba refused, defending Islam and its teachings. But he felt far less conviction than he portrayed. He envied his Christian friend’s assurance of salvation. He wanted the same sincerity of faith and authentic love for others he saw in Daniel.
His questioning continued. His disappointment increased.
Samba remembered some Bible verses Daniel had once shared with him:
“All those the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never drive away.” John 6:37 [NIV]
Why am I continuing to practise Islam in a vacuum? he wondered. Why should I stay uncertain when I could be sure of my salvation today, by giving my life to Christ? Something was urging him to make that risky, life-changing decision.
A turning point
One day in May 2018, Samba picked up his phone and rang Daniel who, by this point, was working with students in a neighbouring country. “I’m tired of living in doubt. I want to become a Christian. I want to give my life to Christ.”
Samba, a management student, is now part of his local GBU group. Since deciding to follow Jesus, he’s known a new freedom and peace:
“Before I gave my life to Jesus, I had a lot of worries. But since I gave my life to Jesus, there is a great joy that animates me.”
He’s told his family about his decision, and for the moment, they are not persecuting him. But with so few Christians around him, it could be a lonely journey ahead.
Pray for him to remain faithful to Christ. Pray also for all those who are disappointed in Islam, that they, like Samba, would come to know Christ