Does having scripture in one’s heart language really help? This is a story of the miraculous work of God, the hard work of men and women and a courageous act by one believer. Sani (not his real name) has been assisting with some translation workshops over the past year here in West Africa. He is a former Muslim, in fact his father is a former Imam, coming from a people group that is predominantly Muslim.
A few weeks ago, Sani received a phone call from an unknown number. The caller said that he and his four friends were aware of Sani’s work among the Muslim people group they belonged to and that they all shared the same heart language. They wanted Sani to come and meet with them and tell them about Jesus. It wasn’t long into the conversation that as it became apparent that these five may belong to a militant group. Sani began to wonder if this was a trap. He declined to meet because of the risk. The caller phoned again the next day, begging Sani to meet. To help persuade Sani, he related an account of their recent experiences. The five admitted they were leaders of a group that was militant. In fact, they were leading their group of 2500 through the bush to a neighbouring state to launch an attack when they were blocked by a vision of a man in brilliant white whose feet were on the ground and his head in the sky. All five leaders and many of the larger group saw this vision and they wisely retreated. Not to be deterred, they wondered if they had stumbled upon a “holy” trail and decided to proceed by a different way the next day. Again, they were confronted by the same vision. This happened five separate times.
Upon returning to camp, the five leaders took their prayer rugs and separated themselves from the camp and each other to pray and reflect. While sitting alone, a man in white approached the caller, greeted him and sat down next to him. The visitor began to share all that had recently happened, what was going on in the caller’s head and shared from the scriptures. This baffled the man and finally he said, ‘Who are you and how do you know these things?” The visitor had been sitting with his hands tucked under his arms. He pulled out his hands and displayed them palm forward showing holes in each and proclaimed, “I am Jesus, I have come that you might have salvation and bring salvation to others.” The militant leader fell to his knees and accepted Jesus as his Lord and saviour. The visitor walked away and disappeared into the bush. The newly converted leader got up and ran to the closest of the other four leaders to tell him what had happened but discovered that the other leader had just experienced the same visit. Soon they discovered that all five had the same visit at the same time.
They quickly discussed what they should do next which is when they remembered hearing about Sani, a man that talked about Jesus in their own language. Upon hearing this story and some amount of prayer and discussion with his wife, it was decided that Sani should respond to the invitation regardless of the risk. He drove some ways out of town where he met the caller who then took him by motor bike to their camp. Arriving late at night, he retired to a restless sleep. At daybreak, Sani entered the camp to find 2500 militants assembled and waiting to hear him speak. Even though he is a preacher, something prompted Sani to simply read the scripture. Fortunately, the New Testament had been completed and dedicated six years earlier which meant that Sani could read God’s word to them in their heart language! He read from the book of James. After reading four chapters, he gave an invitation to accept Jesus and all 2500 responded! God’s word is powerful especially when it is in your heart language!