One day I was helping a friend run a veterinary clinic on the edge of the desert. The Somali shepherds got the word that our team was there, and they walked out of the desert with their flocks so that we could treat their animals for worms. There were three of us and we treated thousands of goats, sheep, donkeys and camels that day.
We were hot and exhausted when we drove back into town. We went by the airport to pick up some medicines that had been flown in and I was told to stay in the truck while my friend went inside. It was really hot in the truck, though, and there were some shade trees and a little shed nearby. A woman had an outdoor fire with a tea-kettle so I offered to buy some tea for the Somali guy that had been translating for us all day. We placed an order for tea, she began heating the kettle over the fire and then the woman spoke to me from a squatting position, “You are Christian. You have three gods.”
Muslims are taught that Christians believe in three gods: the father (God), the mother (the virgin Mary) and the son (Jesus).
“Yes. I am Christian,” I said, sitting cross-legged on an old mat, “but I don’t have three gods. There is only one God. Would you like me to tell you what a Christian believes?”
The woman did ask to hear an explanation of Christianity and so I slowly unfolded the tale of how God created the world, how His created children had sinned against Him, how He had placed a curse on the earth, how He had promised to send a curse-breaker to save us because He loved us, how God sent prophets to tell us more about the coming curse-breaker, how Jesus was born and how Jesus proved that He was the prophesied one by doing many great miracles. We were sipping the hot tea at this point and the woman seemed to enjoy the story, just as I enjoyed telling it again. She leaned forward eagerly to hear each point and nodded her head indicating that she understood.
At that point in the tale I tried to explain about the crucifixion, but my Somali translator stopped talking. I repeated the point, but he still wouldn’t speak. Finally, he said, “I cannot say that. The Quran says that Jesus did not die on the cross.”
“I’m not asking you to believe it,” I coaxed. “We’re just explaining what a Christian believes.”
“I cannot say it,” he insisted.
I coaxed even more, tried to reason with him and then I saw something I had never seen before. An enormous black-covered giant ducked his head as he came from the little shed behind the translator and walked slowly up to us. He could have been Goliath’s big brother. He was 7 feet, 15 inches tall and was two cubits across his chest. He was dressed completely in black and his head was wrapped with a black turban.
The giant spoke to the woman in a deep voice and then my translator began to argue with him. I had no idea what they were saying and eventually the mountain-sized man turned and walked away. It was a strange and somewhat surreal encounter, and the woman had just remained squatting before the little fire, turning her head back and forth from speaker to speaker, like a cat watching table tennis.
Later that night my friend asked, “Did you talk to someone about Jesus today?”
I was in trouble. I had been told to stay in the truck and I didn’t. I knew it was dangerous to talk openly about Jesus, and I did. I had done everything wrong, again. “Yes,” I said sheepishly.
“And did someone come out to confront you,” he kept up his interrogation.
“Yes,” I whispered.
“Do you know what they were talking about when they were all speaking Somali?” he asked.
“No,” still unable to manage more than monosyllabic answers.
I hate being in trouble.
“I’m glad you were telling them about Jesus,” he said, “but the Somali conversation was something like this: When the big man came out of the room, he had heard you talking about Jesus and he told the woman, ‘Bring me a knife that I may slit this infidel’s throat.’ To which the translator replied, ‘Don’t brag about things that you can’t accomplish.’ The big man then said, ‘Bring me the knife and I’ll show you what I can do.’ To which our translator said, ‘This man is a doctor. He has come thousands of kilometers and spent the entire hot day in the desert treating goats and sheep for poor Somalis. What have you ever done to benefit your own people?’ And that is when the big man walked away.”
I’m telling you, that guy was huge. I felt like a grasshopper in his eyes.
I’d love to hear your thoughts.
You are often in trouble, Dr. Charles, but usually for all the right reasons. Well done!
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ln Jeremiah 1:17-19 God told Jeremiah, ” But you, dress yourself for work; arise, and say to them everything that I command you. Do not be dismayed by them, lest I dismay you before them. 18 And I, behold, I make you this day a fortified city, an iron pillar, and bronze walls, against the whole land, against the kings of Judah, its officials, its priests, and the people of the land. 19 They will fight against you, but they shall not prevail against you, for I am with you, declares the Lord, to deliver you.”
You were simply dressed for work and saying what God had sent you to Somalia to say. Giants look scary, but our God is not only bigger, but he’s faithful to boot!
I’ve never seen a giant, but I have seen deliverance. I was speaking to a group one day and a faction did not like what I was saying. They went outside and decided to come back and physically remove me from the premises. About that time another man went out and heard their plan. He told them, “You won’t be able to get to him. I’ve already tried. I don’t know how, but when I tried to get him, although no one was visibly standing between us, I was pushed back.”
When we obey, God will always respond for His glory. If your deliverance brings him the greatest glory. You will be delivered. If your death brings him the greatest glory, then you will be given the privilege of the martyrs in Revelation 6:9-11.
Doc, I’ve never told you this, but I still tell stories of the faithful heart I saw in you and your bride many years ago. With joy and humility you still have that faithful heart. The giants don’t stand a chance!
As your baby sister, it frightens me. But as your sister in Christ, I thank you for your boldness.
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I love this story. I love that the translator, who seemed to be in opposition by not translating the last part, then turned and defended you because he saw the love you had for the people and your sacrifice for them. I am praying for him and the woman now. May the truth you shared penetrate their hearts and keep them thinking. May their eyes be opened and their hearts softened so they can be open to hear the rest of the story. Also praying that they’ll meet another brother soon to share more.
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