I came to Africa to work in Tanzania. While I had done some research on telling Muslims about Jesus, I was totally unprepared with what transpired in my life in the coming weeks and months. I was called to another country to attend a missionary meeting. I expected a dry period of teaching about traditional missions. Something I was not interested in.
During the meeting men and women like myself stood up and told their personal testimonies and then about their ministries. Some were Wazungus like me. A Mzungu is a person, usually white, from the West that visits or lives in Africa. The word was first recorded in writings by the famous explorer Henry M. Stanley. He of the famous quote “Dr. Livingstone, I presume”. The natives near the Congo are reported calling the whites of that time, Wazungus. (the plural of Mzungu). Roughly, those that travel in circles
In this meeting we Wazungus, all had somewhat similar stories. We found out the African Christians experienced a far different path to Christ. Many of them had lost their families and livelihoods when they came to Jesus.
I was riveted to my seat as they told of their wives being murdered or they being poisoned by their own family members. I took detailed notes, thinking I would never hear such stories and hoped to learn more about these new brothers.
A day or so later, I had an opportunity to listen in on a conversation between two brothers about their conversions to Christ. These Christians converted from Islam, were kicked out of their quarters in the refugee areas or were forced to flee from their home countries because of persecution ending up arriving here virtually homeless and penniless. Many women and children were forced to live on the streets. There is no sympathy for former Muslims that come to Jesus. They are hated as traitors and hunted.
One brother was an actual former imam from Somalia. We will call him Mohamed. He shared that he now had about six families, mostly women and children he was trying to help. Their husbands had found out they were Christians and kicked these women and families to the street. Now before you judge them as harsh remember, many men would expose their wives and have them killed. These merely kept the older children and kicked the wives out with the youngest children hoping to put them in such a hopeless situation that they would return to Islam. So a wife with two to eight children would be found on the street huddled alone at night. People who knew Mohamed alerted him to the situation.
But then Mohamed dropped a bomb shell on me. He and the Mzungu he was talking with were stretched to the limit and were actually turning them away now. They did what they could with what they had. It cost about $150 a month to pull someone off of the street and house them and provide enough food for them to survive. They had a plan to help these women for about four months till they got them on their feet. But some never got on their feet. How do you watch after eight children or even four and go out and find a job to provide for them?
This is how we got started. I knew that brothers and sisters in the West would stand with these new believers. We have to. Some of these ladies are choosing between starvation, victimization and their faith. Some go back to Islam. We are not talking about a political issue. I am not appealing based on a cause or a ministry. I am talking about real women and men who have risked it all for Jesus. When we do for the least of these, we are in fact doing for Jesus Himself. Some have risked the ultimate price for coming to Jesus. We are trying to assist these so that they have a chance at serving the Lord tomorrow. We are trying to find sustainable solutions through jobs, business start-ups and relocation. But till then we simply need housing and food.