December 14, 2013 Jesse Digges

Reaching the Nubians

Recently the second year students went on a mission among the Nubians of Uganda to engage Muslims in evangelism and outreach. It was amazing to see this small tribe almost completely insulated from outsiders and from Christian witness in the middle of a country where Christians are the majority. The Nubians came from Sudan to Uganda over a century ago and acquired land among the Baganda; land they maintain as strictly Islamic territory.
On Tuesday night the team decided to reach one of the three centers where the these people reside. The goal was to show the Jesus Film, something we have done in other Islamic areas with great success. This night would be different. We found an area densely populated and started setting up the equipment. When people began to notice what was going on they came over to observe us with great suspicion. We told them we want to show a movie about Isa (Jesus) and the Injil (gospel), but when they realized we were Christians they immediately become aggressive. “This place is for Muslims, we don’t want Christians here!” Within minutes we were being surrounded by an angry mob so we rushed to pack up equipment and leave. The threats starting picking up, “You have three minutes before we will light your van on fire!” So we started driving away, some people still trying to get in the vehicle and some of the equipment still on the roof, with the crowds hitting the sides and back of the car and yelling that we should never return, “Allahu Akbar!” This is the way that the Nubians (and multiple other Islamic tribes) have remained unreached for generations; they fight to protect their culture and religion.
So what do you do when you get chased out of town? Preach in the next center, a mile down the road. We were able to show the film there and pray for the sick. The next night we held our first open air evangelistic meetings and proclaimed the gospel. The second night of open air the mob struck again. A group of about twenty people led by a local Imam came shouting and heckling us to stop the event immediately. Local police had caught wind of the plan to attack us and so five armed officers appeared, commanding us to stop the event until we could sort out the problem. So we conceded as the crowd continued to grow and get louder, if we ever preached again they would kill us and burn down the shop owners building (a Christian) where were setting up the crusade.
The next day the Imam was standing by the roadside at his car waiting to see if we were going to try preaching again. I approached him and before I could speak the threats began rolling, “if you preach here again know that we are ready to shed blood and die for Allah!” My reply, “We are also ready to die for Jesus but are not here to fight. Doesn’t Islam mean peace, why are you are threatening us when we haven’t spoken anything evil against your religion?” He paused for a moment and then assured me that Islam is indeed peaceful. As long as we stay in the church, don’t preach publicly, and don’t try to interpret the Quran and there would be no violence. With public meetings shut down by intimidated local government officials and radical fundamentalist muslims we decided to hit the streets and continued with door to door outreach.
The team spent one week with the Nubians and received multiple threats; chased from homes and towns with words and weapons. In the midst of it God was moving and touching hearts. Other Muslims from the area were defending us against the crowd saying that the message was good and they wanted to hear more. Some believed and came to know Christ. An elderly mama was healed when two members of the team prayed for her damaged ankle. She invited them to come to her home to share Christ. Unfortunately her children caught wind of it and chased the evangelists from the house with a machete! Looking back and assessing the effectiveness of the mission was difficult but everyone felt, in spite of the obstacles, that God had opened the heavens and the hearts of many who had no one to tell them the gospel. The irrationality of those who attacked us, who having failed to refute our teaching (we gave opportunity for this), was put on display and so was the love of Christ. Like a dam being broken so that water can flow our preaching and outreach in the area was breaking open new doors in the region, preparing the way for others to continue ministry who would remain as full-time missionaries.
This mission was a test to the whole team and the local believers we were working with. Would we fear and hide our witness? Would we rise up in pride and anger against the Nubian Muslims because of how they treated the believers? We spent a lot of time crying out to the Lord for wisdom, love, and boldness. Wisdom to know when to speak and when to be silent. Love for the Nubian people, especially the ones who were persecuting and threatening us. Boldness to never remain silent even at the cost of our bodies.
This is what millions of believers and thousands of missionaries in Muslim lands are facing on one level or another. Another thing became very clear on this mission. The need for trained long-term missionaries on the field. It will take a sustained and focused labor of love to see the gospel rooted among these kinds of unreached people. Currently, Nubians are 0.00% Christian I could not have been more proud to see the bold witness and love demonstrated by Emmanuel and Moses who are full-time YA missionaries among the Nubians. They have great strategies for disciple making and they both speak one of the local languages used by the Nubians. I have great thanks to God for those from the West who have sponsored these men on the field. By the grace of God, within the next few years, there will be a viable church among this tribe. These missionaries could not do it without the help of faithful supporters.
If you are interested in helping YA send more missionaries among unreached peoples please consider sponsoring a Native Missionary. Give a monthly donation of $30 or $50 dollars per month. $100 per month pays for a missionary in training and $200 per month enables us to fully sponsor a missionary on the field. Thank you for your prayer and for continuing to hold the unreached tribes of the earth in your heart until every tribe and tongue has the Gospel!

Jesse Digges

Jesse Digges is co-founder of Send56, a ministry which exists to serve the African missions movement. He has worked as a full-time missionary since 2008, developing prayer centers and discipleship schools for training and sending African missionaries. He is a regular contributor on the Send56 blog, a Bible teacher, and an evangelist. He resides in East Africa with his wife Rachelle and their three children, Hadassah, Bethany and Jadon.

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