Sunday, February 10, 2013

Malick Wanted To, But I Wouldn't Let Him

Malick walked right up to me in Senegal and asked to become a Christian. I told him no.

I had met Malick because of his job in low-level government. Several days later he sought me out. Malick explained that he had been born a Muslim but had never actually practiced Islam. A young seeker for truth, he had been exposed to animism, to the Roman Catholic veneer that is thinly-veiled animism in that part of the world, and to several different sects of Islam. Throughout all of his journey, he had never encountered anything that interested him. He had never practiced anything. He had never been an actual adherent of any faith.

And so, he walked up to me that evening and declared, "I've found what I'm looking for. I want to be a follower of this new religion of yours."

But then I asked Malick what new religion that was. He didn't know. I asked him what we were teaching. He didn't know. I asked him what was the difference between us and the Roman Catholics in town—between us and Islam. Malick didn't know.

What Malick knew was this: Americans were in town preaching something, and he wanted in on it.

So, I told Malick about Jesus' parable of counting the cost. I told him the story of the Philippian Jailer. I told him that following Jesus would necessarily mean abandoning Islam, animism, and any other system of belief that is contrary to the gospel in order to follow Jesus alone. I told him that we weren't proclaiming a new religion at all, but that we were simply people reading the Word of God and trying to obey it.

Malick pondered over these things for a while, and then he left.

A couple of days later, I gave Malick a Bible as my last action before leaving the village. He eagerly accepted it, promising to study the scriptures.

I thought about the rich young ruler. I thought about the way that Jesus was comfortable in confronting people who aren't ready to make a real commitment and turning them away. I'm praying for Malick, thankful that I haven't lulled his questions to sleep by indulging him in some knee-jerk, unconsidered, rash action. Next time, he should be ready to say yes or no. Next time, if all goes as I expect, I won't need to hold him back. Next time, maybe we'll kneel together on that little porch and Malick will not only find something new, but will himself be found.


Christiane said...

On the dynamic power of the Holy Spirit in evangelical practice, this testimony of the power of inspired compassion as 'witness':

The Gospel as presented by St. Paul frequently landed him in jail.

But Scripture records for us an incident where there is a direct ‘connection’ to how one man accepted St. Paul’s Gospel and was converted.
That story is reveals something of the importance of ‘the gospel message’ going beyond its words and being shown personally and actively in witness to Christ through great compassion also.

Comes to us the story of Paul, the Prison in Philippi, the Roman jailer, the earthquake,
and Paul’s words . . . ‘do not harm yourself, for we are all here’

. . . Paul’s act of compassion for the jailer so surprised the jailer that he was opened to the power of the Gospel and was enabled by the Holy Spirit to turn towards Jesus Christ Kyrios:

The sacred Scriptures record this in the Book of Acts 16:
“3 And when they had laid many stripes upon them, they cast them into prison, charging the jailor to keep them safely:

24 Who, having received such a charge, thrust them into the inner prison, and made their feet fast in the stocks.
25 And at midnight Paul and Silas prayed, and sang praises unto God: and the prisoners heard them.

26 And suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison were shaken: and immediately all the doors were opened, and every one’s bands were loosed.
27 And the keeper of the prison awaking out of his sleep, and seeing the prison doors open, he drew out his sword, and would have killed himself, supposing that the prisoners had been fled.

28 But Paul cried with a loud voice, saying, Do thyself no harm: for we are all here.
29 Then he called for a light, and sprang in, and came trembling, and fell down before Paul and Silas,
30 And brought them out, and said, Sirs, what must I do to be saved?

31 And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house.
32 And they spake unto him the word of the Lord, and to all that were in his house.

33 And he took them the same hour of the night, and washed their stripes; and was baptized, he and all his, straightway.”

Anonymous said...


I'm looking for a private way to contact you. Nothing big, just wanting to send you a note about the UUPG thing.

Ronny Cooksey

R. L. Vaughn said...

Interesting occurrence, Bart. It made me think and wonder how many Americans join churches thinking they have found what they're looking for but don't have a clue. The tact of talking a person out of a profession might be beneficially used here more often than we do.