Everything will change. A Ministry of WorldVenture.
One night Tricia and I went to visit Clana and his family (they are an Ivorian family living on the ICA campus). When we get there we found out that a man was staying with the family and we were introduced to him. He is a Biochemistry teacher from Abidjan and he is in Bouake to administer an exam for high school students. Clana and he both know English pretty well. The man told us about himself and then asked us questions. He asked us what we plan on doing after we leave here. Tricia explained to him that she wants to go back to college to learn about flying airplanes. I told him that I had already finished college and have a business degree.
I also told him that I would like to be a missionary all my life and help the poor start and run small businesses. He was floored. He had told us that his dream is to go to America (not to live there) and see it for himself. In his mind America is wonderful and the best place to be. He grew up dreaming about America; the land of opportunity. He even has followed American basketball all his life. His favorite player was Michael Jordan. So, here he has this view of America and he couldn’t believe that I would want to leave it and live a hard life when I could live an easy life. What I was telling him contradicted everything he knew and believed.
He said if he were me he would have stayed in America and made all the money he could. If he was my parents he would have beaten me with a stick to get me to stay and work in America (here he was joking, but you can see his belief system underneath). I told him God had another plan for me than that and I had to follow Him. I told him that I did not want to live for myself. I don’t want to take what I can from this life. Instead, I want to give what God has given me. I told him about how people who want to be rich are never satisfied. They work and work to make more money so they can buy more things, but even when they have it they are not satisfied and always want more. He asked me if I was not also the same way in my pursuit of helping the poor out of poverty. He said that I would never be satisfied, because there would always be poor people and I can’t help them all. I told him, “No, it is not the same. Because, helping the poor with business is not the most important thing for me. The most important thing for me is to love God and to love people. That is what I am trying to do with my life.”
He asked me then if anything could make me happy (satisfy me) besides God. Do I not want a husband and would he not satisfy me? He saw my face and said to me, “But, no. I see for you it is different. You love God more.” I shook my head softly and said yes. He turned to Tricia then and asked her, “Are you of the same mind as her?” She said yes. Then very seriously he replied, “I am afraid.” Tricia and I were both confused. We asked, “What do you mean? What are you afraid of?” We didn’t know if he was joking or not, because we had been joking off and on throughout the whole visit. He would not reply for a few minutes and we kept asking him. Finally he said, “I am afraid of you”. “You are afraid of us? But why?” He didn’t want to tell us but we pressed him a little and reluctantly he finally said, “You are like the devil”. That statement hurt and I felt the jab from the enemy. I didn’t know what to say to that statement and really just wanted to cry.
Up to this point I had just assumed that this man was a Christian, because he was staying with a family I knew to be Christians. I thought maybe he was just testing my faith and pretending not to understand before. But, when this statement came out I realized he wasn’t a Christian and everything he had told me was what he truly believed. I asked him, “How am I like the devil?” “You want to be like God and eventually to be better than God just like Satan in your Bible.” This man knew bits and pieces about the Bible and what we believed. He knew Satan had been an angel of light and God cast him out of heaven because he wanted to be better than God. He made a joke then saying that I was very well disguised. But I told him, “I want to be like God, but I can never be God and don’t want to be. I want to try to be perfect and live right, but I can never be perfect. God alone is perfect. Christ died for my sins. At one time I had shame and guilt” (when I said these 2 words he shook his head and said those were not good things). I continued saying, “I turned to God for forgiveness. God forgave me and Christ’s blood covers me. His perfection covers me and now I am perfect because of what he has done and not because of what I have done.”
After I told him this he asked, “I cannot see God can you show him to me? Your beliefs say that God is everywhere, but I do not see Him.” I replied with a question, “Can you see the air?” He laughed at that and we joked about it a little bit. Finally he said, “You want to take me to Jesus?” I said, “Yes”. He joked saying, “I am a big man and you can’t carry me.” I replied, “I know I can’t, but Jesus can.” He joked saying, “No, Jesus can’t carry me I am too big.” I replied, “Yes, he can. He carries me, Tricia, and Clana. He can carry you too. He is strong.” He said, “No, I cannot believe.” I joked with him and said, “Really? You can’t believe?” He replied, “I can’t believe. I don’t understand you. There is a wall between you and me.” I told him, “Their used to be a wall between me and God also but God changed me. Before I could not understand either, but after I accepted Jesus I began to understand.”
The man told us he would be staying with Clana this week and that we should come back so we can talk more and he can teach us more French. Throughout the whole visit he was helping us learn French. I have been praying for him tonight. There is nothing I can say to make him believe. Only the Holy Spirit can truly work in his heart and mind to bring him to Christ. But, I was able to plant seeds today all because of the Lord’s help. I haven’t done that very much before. Going back and for with an educated man in a friendly debate about Christ. I have always been terrified that I would get into a situation like that and have no idea what to say. But, God was faithful and he did what he promised in his word. He told us not to be afraid about what we would say because the Holy Spirit would give us the words to say in our moment of need. That is what God did tonight. Also, tonight I was thinking about what he said that hurt me; that I was like the devil. I remembered in scripture that people called Jesus a devil saying he was in league with them. “He’s possessed by Satan, the prince of demons. That’s where he gets the power to cast out demons” (Mark 3:22). Jesus told us, “… a slave is not greater than the master. Since they persecuted me, naturally they will persecute you” (John 16:20).