story from Amy, who co-led the BSN/BELT team to Nigeria, Zanzibar and Tanzania.
We sat in blue plastic lawn chairs in the front of the concrete church building in Zanzibar, listening intently. Prisca, one of the participants in our Biblical Education and Leadership Training (BELT) seminar, was sharing a testimony from her weekend outreach, and she had everyone’s rapt attention.
Prisca and her daughter Salome had spent their Sunday afternoon sharing with their Muslim neighbor ladies about the Ten Commandments. They had brought a poster from the BELT seminar, illustrating how obedience to God’s loving laws brings protection and freedom.
“Is this in the Bible?” one of the women asked. Prisca opened her Bible to Exodus 20 and they read together. “I didn’t think Christians used the Old Testament,” her neighbor said, “These commandments are also in the Quran!”
Upon finding common ground, Prisca went on to explain to her neighbors the need for the Law AND Jesus Christ. One of the women listening declared, “We cannot argue with you because you are full of Jesus!”
The women asked Prisca and Salome to continue to teach the Bible to them and their children!
Another woman, Agnes, a middle aged hotel employee, eagerly stood up and told about how she had shared the gospel with two of her Muslim coworkers. The women had challenged Agnes, saying, “You [Christians] are not really praying because you are not taking off your shoes [as Muslims do].”
Agnes responded, “That doesn’t do anything. You need the word of God!” As they continued talking, one of her coworkers said, “We [Muslims] don’t get any teachings. You Christians study a lot and read the Bible; you must have the truth.”
Ironically, Agnes cannot even read! But through group discussion, Bible storying, posters, and other oral and visual methods used in the BELT seminar, she was given both the knowledge and tools to share her faith with others.
Right there, her two coworkers gave their lives to Jesus and said they wanted to go to church!
Zanzibar, an archipelago off the coast of mainland Tanzania, is an extremely difficult place to do evangelism because of the fact that it is 99% Muslim, poverty-stricken, and home to only a small, persecuted church. As our team listened to story after story, our hearts felt like they were about to burst in awe of our amazing God, who says in Isaiah 51:5:
My righteousness draws near speedily,
my salvation is on the way,
and my arm will bring justice to the nations.
The islands will look to me and wait in hope for my arm.