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My Brother Safari

By Doug Hiebert

I recently visited Safari in his home in Malawi. To be clear, the refugee camp is not a pleasant place to live. It is dry and dusty and lacking in so many resources. People are despondent and the rate of suicide is high. Crime and prostitution are also prevalent, and hope is at a premium. But this is where my brother has chosen to live. 

It is important for people to know that, after six years in the refugee camp and a fruitful church-planting ministry, Safari was given the opportunity that all refugees are waiting for – his application to the United Nations was approved and he was selected to go to the USA. 

He turned it down. He told me plainly, “I couldn’t leave the churches. The sheep couldn’t be without a shepherd.” 

I was amazed at his commitment. I was humbled to call him my brother.

Two years later, the UN officials came again and presented him with a second opportunity – Australia. This time, he accepted. But as the process got underway, he knew he couldn’t go. God has called him to this refugee camp in Malawi. So again, he chose to stay. 

As a result of turning down these opportunities, the UN has discontinued his support. In fact, it was so beyond their understanding, they assumed that Safari had lost his mind. How could anyone turn down these opportunities? 

Today, Safari continues to serve as an evangelist in the refugee camp and an overseer for the churches. He works alongside the pastors and keeps them focused on their vision. He is a good shepherd. 

Safari ekes out a simple living by farming and, through this, he is even able to help support the churches. In fact, during the winter months, when famine strikes and food supplies are diminished, starvation becomes a common problem in the refugee camp. Along with a group of church leaders, Safari has begun training people to conserve some of their food during harvest. The church has now rented fifteen acres outside of the camp where they are able to produce more food, store it, and save it for the lean months when people are in greatest need. 

Now, I call him Joseph.

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