We were entering a Tanzanian open market where a young Muslim woman was selling her produce. While waiting for customers, her attention was absorbed in a piece of literature from Light Bearers. The pastors and elders with me approached her to ask for a possible interview and video. Suddenly things changed. She was friendly, but the atmosphere around us in the market was not. I was unaware of the chilly vibe, but one of the pastors noticed the seriousness of the moment. “We are putting this lady in a difficult situation” he whispered to us, picking up on the fact that many of the other marketers were Muslims. “Her family and community may shun her.”
We quietly left the market.
This incident reminded me how difficult it can be to reach the Muslim community with the gospel. However, though in-person spiritual conversations are very hard to have, many in Tanzania are receiving the Bible lessons from Light Bearers ministry and are reading them privately. Silently, God’s Spirit is touching many of the 17 million Muslims in Tanzania who are searching for the Truth.
I met another lady by the name of Mary Paul Luziga who was born in a Christian home but converted to Islam. From a young age she was on a safari to know more about the Sabbath. Safari means “a journey with a purpose” in the Swahili language. Mary Paul wanted to find the meaning of the Sabbath. Answers from her Christian community were disappointing and inadequate. She felt unfulfilled in her worship. “Maybe I will find the Sabbath in Islam,” she hoped. This desire to understand the Sabbath made her turn to the Muslim faith for answers. She remained a Muslim for eighteen years.
“Was this tract not speaking the Word of God?” she reasoned.
One day Mary fell ill and had to go to the hospital for treatment. A man named Doctor Mbogo attended to her. After the treatment she jokingly remarked, “Any other things to be treated, Doctor?” Doctor Mbogo took this question as an opportunity to fulfil a spiritual need. He opened his drawer and handed her one of the Swahili Bible lessons which read: “Search the Scriptures.”
She asked herself, “Am I not a Muslim? What Scriptures do I need to search, since my childhood Christianity could not give me the answers on the Sabbath? This is why I turned to Islam, which has not satisfied my desire for worship either though.”
She took the tract home but did not read it, because Islam says that Christians are blasphemers. But Islam also says that it is an abomination to do something bad to the Word written on paper. This idea didn’t make sense to her though. “Was this tract not speaking the Word of God?” she reasoned. She took the piece of literature, unstitched her pillow, pushed the tract inside, and stitched it closed again. For three years she slept on that pillow. The silent messenger was preserved under her head.
“If Jesus rose from the grave, why can’t I be healed also from my illness?” she thought.
After three years she moved closer to the city. One day someone handed her a tract with the same heading: “Search the Scriptures.” The Holy Spirit was speaking to her heart. She went home, unstitched her pillow and started reading the hidden lesson, continuing her safari for the Sabbath. Soon she began attending a series of evangelistic meetings.
At the meetings, time was given to ask questions. Unsurprisingly enough, Mary Paul’s first question was on the truth of the Sabbath. “Why don’t you, as Seventh-day Adventists, worship on the first day of the week like others?”
On her safari through these Bible lessons, she started studying the resurrection as well. She learned the amazing truth that Jesus conquered death. That made sense to her, more than anything she had heard before.
“If Jesus rose from the grave, why can’t I be healed also from my illness?” she thought. “Maybe if I am baptized, I will be healed physically.” She made her choice to be baptized. God did not only give her spiritual healing but also physical restoration.
Now she tells Muslims that Jesus overcame death and He is alive! He is interceding for us in the Most Holy Place and preparing places for us. He is with everyone, speaking to their hearts, because He wants every human being to be saved. On her safari in search of the Sabbath, she met the Lord of the Sabbath.