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Slowly, Very Slowly

“It has gone very, very slowly,” said Izi, reflecting on his last two years spent building relationships and sharing the Gospel in a new region. “It feels like hard ground.”

Izi had been pastoring a local church in his village in West Africa for some years when he sensed God calling him to plant a new church in a nearby city. In preparation for leaving, he spent time discipling a leadership intern to take on his pastoral role, and a local church sponsored this intern to attend Bible school until he was fully equipped and ready for the position. Then, confident that the church would be in good hands, Izi and his wife left the village and prepared to start all over.

“It took two years of living and working in the new community,” Izi said, “before people began to trust us.” The time was well spent. Recently, Izi and his wife approached the governing authorities to ask permission for a showing of the Jesus Film. They were thrilled to be given approval for the event. When, on the night of the showing, the local police showed up unexpectedly, it was not to shut down the show, but to offer their protection during the event! 

Likewise, Izi’s wife spent many months integrating herself into the local community of women in order to gain their acceptance. Because she is not free to speak openly about faith in Jesus in this Muslim context, she was determined to display God’s love in her behavior and in tangible acts of simple kindness. Again, time well spent. Now, several women have told her secretly that they do want to follow Jesus but feel that, for now, they must hide their decision from their husbands and Muslim community to avoid persecution. She respects their dilemma and continues to offer a friendship that demonstrate the Good News without words. “Slowly, very slowly” is an effective strategy for Truth in Love in this global context, and it is bearing fruit.

“People here are beginning to accept us,” Izi said. “Their hearts are softening.” Along with softening hearts, Izi and his wife are planning to soften the land itself, looking to launch a small agricultural business that will allow them to become self-supporting in ministry. It will be backbreaking work, but then, they are used to hard ground.

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