"I don’t like to be far from those I am discipling,” said OM worker John. "When I do discipleship with someone, even if the person says, ‘Ah, today I am going [to look] for honey,’ I would say, ‘Let’s go together to look.'"
John is from a predominately Muslim village in northern Mozambique. There he works to share the gospel and reach out to people—primarily through friendship evangelism.
Currently John is discipling a young Muslim man in the village. Both men were planning on building houses, so John decided they could make the mud bricks together. “I told him: ‘Let us make the blocks in my compound where the water is near—I have the hole. You will use my bucket, I will work with you.’ I told him, ‘We are going to make 5,000 blocks. After we burn the blocks, the broken blocks will be my own blocks. The complete ones will be for you to take to your house.'”
Every day as they work—carrying water, mixing the mud, shaping the bricks and burning them—they do it together, providing an opportunity for John to share the gospel. “Our chapter is John,” said John. “Every day I share. He has many questions.”
“[To share] the gospel here is not the same way as [sharing] the gospel [in other areas of Mozambique]. The foundation of the gospel here is relationships, friendship. During that process of friendship is where trust comes. This is why it takes time for you to share the gospel and someone to receive Jesus. If you go and share and talk to [many people] about Jesus it is easier; talk to him, talk to him. But one day, you will see them all disappear. Because one of the listeners is a fisherman. Another is a hunter. Another one is looking for honey. Another one is a farmer. These four people, each one goes to his own work. If the fisherman goes to the river, you [need] to escort him to the river. [With] the gospel here, you just have to concentrate on [one person]. This is discipleship with quality. Any day that you release him, he will go, and he is going to make disciples.”
Zito, also an OM worker, was another one of John’s disciples. “When the gospel [came to this village], I did not understand anything,” said Zito. “Whenever I used to see a Christian, [it] was as if I was looking at a very fierce animal.”
After one of Zito’s close friends became a Christian, he was angry, thinking his friend was following nonsense. One day John asked Zito to go for a walk with him. Zito agreed, all the while thinking: “he is my enemy, a Christian.” While on the walk, John asked him a question: "If God came now and He asked you if you wanted everlasting life, what would your answer be?" Zito had no response, and tried avoiding John in the following days. In the small village, he was unsuccessful, and John soon found him to talk again.
“[John] said, ‘Zito, God loves you,’” Zito remembered. “I asked: ‘How can you say God loves me?’ He said: ‘God loves you, and He wants your life. The only way to go into the presence of God is Jesus Christ.’”
Zito continued on as he was, but John kept coming alongside him. “Whenever I said I was going to fish, he said: ‘Let’s go.’ I used to think why is this guy pressing me? So I decided I wanted to go to [church]; from there I started growing slowly, slowly.”
After one year of searching, Zito accepted Christ as his personal Saviour.
“I am so happy that if I die, today I will be with God,” he said.
John’s mother was the daughter of the local king and imam of the area. His father came from a different area and was a Catholic until he converted to Islam in order to get married. John grew up as a Muslim and studied the Qur'an for three years with his brother, who is now the imam at the village’s mosque.
It is common in the area to go to both the mosque and to witchdoctors, and John was no exception, though he commonly found answers elsewhere. “For me, fighting was a solution,” admitted John. “It was the base of my life.”
In 2008, a visiting Christian shared the gospel with John.
“The verse that touched me was John 8:30-32. That verse saved my life,” John remembered. Though the Scripture deeply touched him, John continued going to the mosque and living his worldly life. Six months later John came to a breaking point after getting into a fight.
“I started remembering what the man of God spoke with me. I had nothing, I had had to run, [I had] a need for God,” said John. “I received Jesus.”
John left his old life behind and changed dramatically. “Now I am free, I say thanks to Jesus,” John said. “Even the people ask, ‘Which kind of charm or juju (witchcraft) has this guy done?’ Because [who I was before] was so bad, very bad.”
It hasn’t been easy, though. “In our tribe there is no one that is a Christian,” said John. “I am just one person. Many people used to come to me and try to counsel me, saying this thing that I am doing, it has never happened in our family. Some other people used to come and offer money: ‘Do whatever you feel to do with it. Leave this Christianity, you are putting us to shame.’ I am separated. They are not looking at me as family. They talk to me, but there is no trust anymore."
“The same verse that saved my life [keeps me strong]," John said. “Jesus is the only way.”
“Even as he spoke, many believed in him. To the Jews who had believed him, Jesus said, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” – John 8:30-32 (NIV)