German Translation (PDF 263k)
I have to be a bit vague on some of the details here, because the writer of these emails, Jamal (not his real name), lives in an area of Ethiopia dominated by Muslims who persecute those known to be Christians in that region. He was in the States on an education visa, and at the end of his studies he had an encounter at a service station that started an amazing journey…
After a rainy night at the state fair and missing his daughter’s performance in the musical he want there to see because his daughter had given him the wrong time, a frustrated Doug stopped at a gas station on the way home. He was thirsty so he went inside instead of paying at the pump. It was during the Olympics so he asked the Ethiopian gas attendant, Jamal, what athletes he was watching and what sports were big in his country. Jamal asked Doug why so many American athletes say that God helps them. Doug told him about Jesus and answered his questions for about 20 minutes. Jamal said he wanted to learn more and Doug gave him his phone number as they walked out of the gas station in the rain, at the end of Jamal’s shift. They talked a couple short times after that, over a gas purchase. Now Jamal was a graduate student in a doctoral program at a local university. He called Doug several weeks later and wanted to meet for lunch before he left to go back to Ethiopia.
They met at a deli for lunch. Doug would often have to write words down and let Jamal look them up in his dictionary. He drew the 4 spiritual laws cross diagram and showed him verses in the Bible. Jamal asked about prayer and then, without another word, he dropped to his knees right there, bowed 3 times and prayed out loud for forgiveness in his broken English.
He wrote Doug the following email that evening:
Since my tongue will not say correctly so many of the words I can write I wish to tell you in this way my deepest gratitude. I wish there only was more time to learn from you more what is beginning in my heart this day. When I come first to America I am thinking that my heart is full of many dreams. But really it is only my head that is filled with these. My heart was still beneath the smiles filled with many pains and wounds, many because of my own hands. This I am trying all the time I am here to hide from all around me yet mostly from myself. I am looking for the “special magic” of America that so many peoples from over the world are longing for to find some success only to know that it can not fill up the emptiness leftover from past hurts.
But today I am praising this Jesus who sends you into my store in the rain to tell me that his love is the gift that heals what no man can see or touch. As your words come to me I can feel him touching this pain that I am hiding for so long. Can it be this easy that he would bring to my heart the joy of his forgiveness as a present like your Christmas every day? I am wondering how I must pay for such a freedom treasured. In my country if you wish to be free from prison you must bring money to the police and guards from your family. How then can Jesus way be so free? I am wishing I had some of the money left I am paying to the University and knowing that it would not be enough. This I am thinking as your words from Jesus talking are flowing through me like water poured over the cracks in dry stone. Then I see that it was never easy because of what Jesus has paid for me the blood poured from his heart. And I am seeing him with scars and brokenness because of the things I do. Yet knowing that he says to me -This is for you so you may be free.
Now I cannot wait any longer. So I am asking how I can open this gift? When you are telling me prayer is not remembering words from writing down somewhere else but turning away from the road of myself and toward Jesus and telling him all that is in my heart. So I am kneeling on the floor in the restaurant to ask Jesus for this forgiveness and he is with me making the wounds of my heart like new flesh.
Now I am thinking when I am coming to America my wallet is full and my heart is empty and now I am going home and my wallet is empty but my heart is full. I am dancing inside myself. Now the story I am telling as I go to home is not about America but about God’s son and the gift of his peace and freedom.
I am also asking you to thank your church for the Bible. I will be reading and writing to ask you many more things I need to learn. Thank the church also for the prayers they have been giving to Jesus for me.
Doug got another email from him the next day that said he was struggling to pray in English when Jesus spoke to him in his language of Swahili. Jamal wrote, “Now I know your Jesus is not just the God of Americans but of the forgotten peoples as well.”
With a minimum of what most people call discipleship, Jamal returned to his native country with the simple encouragement to read the Bible, talk to God and follow him as he makes himself known to you. Here is what has happened since, in Jamal’s own words in emails he has sent to Doug:
I am writing once again to you for sharing with your friends. Tell them again that I am not having a translator like at University and so I am very sorry for this bad mistakes in writing. If there heart is like yours in love they will understand and be glad.
Many days have past and I have not written you. Your heart must be filled with wonderings about me. Sorry I am for this beyond words for I cannot count how many times I wished to write to you or am thinking of you or needing from you answers but I am not in a place where e-mail works until I return to a larger city. This I am planning to do many times but the journey is so long and always something happen to keep in a greater working.
For my days in America I am trying to fill my head with knowing and remembering of things taught so that I can come back to Africa and use this learning for my family and the peoples here. But God has always planned another way that my heart would be so full of Jesus that this is all I am able to share.
So now in every village I am first planning of helping people in living ways to find some success in the world, now God is building the “living stones” that you were telling me the reading of in Peter’s letter. This is best for in many places now there could be no building of my hands big enough to hold them all. All this God is doing as we share the Jesus of our hearts and his great love.
In my city I am beside myself because it seems there is a mountain too high for any climbing between the people and the words of Jesus. They are saying that these words are for the white man only and there is no place in the heart of Africa for them. When hearing this I am in sadness deep within my heart too much for words of any kind to tell. I am melting on the inside and afraid I will run into the sand and be soaked up. I am wishing to speak to you and not able to eat for many days. Then I am remembering some of your words sent to me from Jesus’ brother James to ask God for knowing what to do. So I am talking to Jesus many days and then my mind is remembering the story you told me of the man from Ethiopia, how that in the great success time of Philip, God is saying by his Spirit that what is more important is to go to the desert and tell one man from Ethiopia about Jesus story. So I am reading from this Acts in my bible to the peoples. This I am saying there everyday and it is as though the mountain is falling into the sea of God’s mercy for this people and their dry spirits are drinking of water that is ever living.
But also a door is opening inside of me and I am walking now the path of some of your teaching to me and more. Before this too much of this is only words spoken about a far off place made of dreaming. But now I am not dreaming because this I see when I am awake in the day. This people with me and myself are learning to ask of Jesus from their hearts and the answers are too many for the telling. And so wonderful to see that even then they are hard to believe. And the greatest thing of all is that in the asking by this peoples to God they now know this is not the power of Jamal but the power of our Jesus.
It heals the sick when there is no doctor or medicine, it brings a doctor who is lost to the home of people who are made well by his care, it brings food to the hungry paid for by other Christians who know us not. They tell the driver, take this food west until someone asks you for it, we do not know where only that this is what Jesus is telling us to do. And they are driving no more because they are running out of gas in front of the house where we are praying to ask Jesus for this food. And then we are praying to Jesus our thanks for them and this people we know not and that he will provide them gas for driving back and no one is coming all night to the village but in the morning David is walking by the truck and smelling gas and we are finding the tank so filled it has spilled out onto the ground. And the boss is saying who fills this truck up with gas and the men sleeping in it all night are saying no one has ever done this. SO we are knowing this is Jesus doing. In another place we are praying for the rain water to come for the people are dying because there is not rain for many days. Then the rivers are flowing with water and the drums are celebrating and the drums from the mountains close by are coming back from up the streams of water and saying how can there be celebrating when here is no rain and how can there be water in the valley when there is no rain in the valley or the mountain.
But all this and more God is doing to say to this people that his love for them is great but the gift of Jesus for them is greater. And the people are kneeling in the road and the dust and the desert and the cities and the stores and the homes and like me in the restaurants to ask Jesus to fill their hearts and this he is always doing.
I will write to tell you more and ask you many things. But tell those people who have been asking God for us that he is hearing and now we are asking for them to live in this love that is shared opened to us by our Jesus. That he will bring healing to the hearts of your people also. That he will fill them with the wonder of our hearts because his hand reaches out beyond the seeing of man to do more with you than even bravest hearts can dream.
It has been too long since last I wrote to your friends and to you something other than ordinary days and many questions. Here many are praying every day for the spirit of his love to fill each of you up so that it flows over you like the waters that are too much for a dam in the river. When this happens you will all be living as the clay pots you have me reading about in Paul’s letter Corinthians. That is how it has become with us. I am remembering that here so many of the wells are having water bags in them for pulling up to get the water and that no one is ever remembering what the bag looks like but only the taste of the fresh water when they are no longer being thirsty.
Tell the peoples you know that they can be praying for us also. Everywhere we are going people are turning from their old ways to walk after Jesus. This He is doing and there is nothing ever before in front of my eyes such as this. For people that are always in fear since being tiny children are finding the peace of our Jesus. Mostly they are being born in the parts of the land that are following the Islam that is afraid and filled with rage. (Not all of Islam is walking away from peace, but our hearts are sad for those who are).
But now some are becoming angry and filled with hate toward us because of the changes inside the peoples who are knowing Jesus. One brother has been beaten so badly that he is very near to die. But the power and trust in Jesus is with him and he is smiling and saying we should change his name to Job because he is reading those words of Job who is saying even if they are killing me I will still trust only in God.
And we are learning what he is saying. As we are running from a village in the night’s blackness so thick that there is no seeing because the angry men there are coming will shouts of death on their tongues. One brother John is falling off the road and a stick is going through the top of his leg to be out the other side and the blood is everywhere. And we are hearing the voices and shouts following after us and Samuel is saying to us that John will be dieing from the bleeding and that he cannot keep running and we are saying back to him that if John is staying that they will be killing him anyway and so what can we do. And Samuel is saying back to us that the letters of Doug to us are always telling us to be praying first and thinking after so that is what we should do. So now as the lights and voices are coming closer they are praying for Jesus to help John and I myself am learning what the Bible is saying about watching and praying, and thinking later that this is meaning something different. And the bleeding is stopping and so we are breaking off the branch and saying if there is no bleeding then leave it in the leg until we find the doctor. And as the angry ones are getting closer we can see from their light that we are in a deep ditch by the road and they are running right past us but not one of them is seeing us and then we are escaping to another village where things are being safer.
When we are finding the doctor and he is pulling out the stick and cleaning the leg inside then there are two children coming to the doctor who have been hurt and he is leaving to look at them and then coming back to us and saying who is it that is helping John and we are saying that our Jesus is working through Samuel to do this, but he is not understanding us. So he is taking Samuel to one of the girls and saying that he should be sowing up the vein in her leg so that it will not be bleeding or else she will die and there is no time to wait but to help both girls or else the one will be dieing. Samuel is saying to the doctor that he cannot do this because he does not know how. The doctor is saying back to Samuel, How is he then sowing up the big artery in the leg of John and why he will not help to heal this girl as he has done his friend. Samuel is saying that all he can do is to do as he has done with John and the doctor is saying to do it, but he is not understanding. So Samuel is kneeling beside the bed and praying for Jesus to help the little girl and the doctor is screaming that the girl will be dieing, but the Jesus who hears is with her and she is being made well. The nurse who someone is running to find is coming and hearing the doctor and she is walking in and looking at the young girl and taking off the clamp and saying the doctor is working very well on her with the sowing and there is no bleeding. And the doctor is saying her mind has been lost and he is coming to see. And when he is looking down he is seeing the sowing that Jesus is doing on the young girl is perfect and looking just like the sowing on the leg of John and then he is saying if he does not see this with the eyes of his own that he is not believing that Jesus is the healer. After Samuel is speaking to him then kneeling next to Samuel in the blood of the little girl and he is believing in the blood of Jesus and becoming one who will follow Him. This is the real miracle of Jesus.
And we are telling him that all this is not us that we are like the bags in the well that no one remembers and Jesus is the living water. This is not what happens every day but our Jesus is always able to show us that he has power to do what no man can do if when doing it he is showing himself to those who will believe. But we are with John trusting him if we live or if we die. And to some this would be the words of fear, but to those who hear the voice of our Jesus in their hearts this is the life of freedom and the road of peace and they are walking down that road with us.
Please be asking your peoples to pray for the peoples telling the story of our Jesus to those who are living in fear in the villages of the angry people. Every day the danger they are living in is real and we are needing Jesus to protect them and to pour his water of life out through them. If this you will be praying for us, then you must know that we are praying for you this also.
Your friend and brother because of Jesus,
We are still feeling in our spirit that this thing that Jesus is doing here is not for outsiders to control or pay monies for and for the faith of the peoples here to turn to them instead of our Jesus if this is happening. How could they be leading us somewhere that Jesus could not? How could they be sending more money and things for helping than Jesus can? No he is wanting the people here to be trusting only him and walking the path deeper into his love.
I am taking the advice that you are giving me to not be using your name as much here for this same reason because you are saying that God is the father of me and of you and that we then are only brothers together in him. This I am always knowing because this is what your heart always shares with me even when it not among the words that you are speaking. As you told me this is to protect the hearts of others who must be like Peter on the water and always looking to Jesus with his name always upon their lips.
Yet sometimes when Samuel is being stubborn then we could say to him let us ask our brothers for help and you would be one who would be helping and then I could be using your name sometimes.
I was beginning to be wondering how it is that faith is growing in the peoples. Not just the faith of beginning to turn to follow Jesus but the growing faith in the hearts that journey with us. I am reading in many places about how Jesus is saying to the disciples…”What has happened to your faith that it has disappeared?” This I am not wanting to happen to the people here.
I am reading this in Luke’s letter chapter 1 and this is what Jesus is saying in my heart about the journey he is walking with us
“…to give his people the knowledge of salvation
through the forgiveness of their sins,
because of the tender mercy of our God,
by which the rising sun will come to us from heaven
to shine on those living in darkness
and in the shadow of death,
to guide our feet into the path of peace.”
Walking in the morning SON and the path of peace,
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