Thursday, April 13, 2017

Crossing The Sahara to Find Jesus

Sitting in a taxi in Tripoli, Libya, I learned an important lesson from my soulwinning partner. "God takes some through desert places that they might reach the cross". Such was the case with my new-found friend and fellow-laborer in this northern city of Africa. Newman was not your typical convert. He had grown up in harsh realities of the difficult land of West Africa. Fourteen years earlier he had abandoned his motherland looking for a new beginning in what was to be Italy. But before he could make his way to the European Utopia he had dreamed, he would first have to make the long trek across the Sahara Desert. 

And after some weeks of a journey that he narrowly survived, he came to Tripoli. He saw others die before his very eyes in the sands of the Sahara. Once in Libya, he planned to do as more than 300,000 Africans did just last year, he would pay nearly $700 to traffickers to take him by night across the turbulent waves of the Mediterranean. This unbelievable journey was nearly 1,000 miles. Many of the immigrants who try never make it alive, but find their fate at the waters' basin. Such was the case this first attempt by Newman as the boat nearly capsized, and eight Africans drowned at sea. The pilot turned back to Tripoli and their mission had failed. After another year of saving his meager salary Newman would try again only to meet frustation again, as the boats' engine would fall into the deep waters, leaving the more than 100 passengers stranded 6 hours from shore. However, they would find their way back through the darkness with their lives in tact. Still another year later, Newman, determined to have a better life in the West, would attempt this insanity once again. This time, the organizer of the journey, pocketed his money and fled away leaving Newman and others hopeless. 

After these three attempts to leave the continent of Africa, this young frustarted Nigerian moved to the town of Sirte (home of Muammar Gaddafi) to escape any remembrance of why he had come to this land. He didn't want to be around any of the Christians that he knew in Tripoli. He didn't want to be reminded of a God that he felt had abandoned him. However, as God once before knew the whereabouts of runaway Jonah in Biblical times, He also knew the location of Newman. And God didn't give up on this prodigal. Newman stayed in Sirte for some months working the job of a mason. 

One night while sleeping in this strange place, he awoke to dreams of Jesus. He awoke to throughts of being lost forever without God. It shook him at his core. Soon he found some believers that took time for him and shared the Gospel of Jesus with this searching soul. God saved Newman from his sins and gave him eternal life in Christ. No more would he have to search for happiness by crossing a sea or a desert. His happiness would be found in Jesus. 

Today Newman serves as an evangelist in his church in Tripoli. The days I spent with him there, we saw many other wanderers come to Christ. God saved Newman, not to take him to a better life in Europe of America, but to take he and others to an everlasting home in Heaven. Thank the Lord, for His sovereignty in not giving up on us when we lack the desire for His mercy. "He has to take some through the desert, that they might reach the cross". 

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