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God's ways are amazing! Though we couldn't speak Fulfulde, the local dialect, nor Hausa, the regional dialect, we fortunately did have the GRN recordings in Fulfulde. We couldn't have imagined the chain of events God orchestrated for the sake of the gospel through these messages.
One day a local pastor led a boy, Joe, to Christ. Angered, the elders of the village threw him under house arrest and decided to kill him the next day. When the pastor heard of this plot, he rescued Joe by digging a hole in the mud hut where Joe was imprisoned. They fled to our place at the Bible College. For the next six months, Joe soaked in the messages of the recordings, in his native tongue, Fulfulde. Oral tradition is very important in his community. If a question is asked and the respondent doesn't want to tell the whole truth, he will reply in Hausa. But if he replies in Fulfulde, then the questioner knows that he spoke the truth: no-one lies in the mother tongue. Much of the preaching the people had previously heard had been in Hausa so they had questioned the validity of the message. However, because the GRN recordings were in Fulfulde, Joe believed the messages and memorized Bible verses, stories, and songs.
The recordings were excellent preparation for Joe's later study at a bush Bible School and training to be a pastor. Through Joe becoming a missionary to people in the area surrounding the Bible College, we met the high king who reigned over 13 kingdoms. The king permitted the preaching of the Gospel to everyone in this region!
Later Joe took one of our hand-cranked recording players beyond our immediate area and preached to neighbouring Fulfulde speaking people. Soon after hearing the Gospel for the first time, boys in groups up to 14 would show up at our doorstep wanting to listen to the recordings. We always invited them in and served them hot tea with cream and sugar while they listened. Many thanked us for 'feeding' them: they told us tea was considered a meal. Amazing God! He used Joe to open doors for us to screen the Jesus film spoken in Fulfulde for these groups, but he also used two young shepherd boys.
Daily, this pair would turn up at our doorstep and stay from 7am until 7pm, listening to the recordings. We didn't really know what they were doing, but served them tea anyway. Two months later, we trekked out to one of the villages where the boys hailed from. Fifteen children ran up to us singing the song off the recordings, Jom-i-rio (God gives me life). We were so surprised to hear this familiar song because we hadn't visited the village before. The children told us that one of the two shepherd boys had taught them. Those two boys had been memorizing the entire recordings, word for word. In a culture that only has oral traditions and information, if something is of importance, it is repeated until perfectly memorized. They would quiz each other to check accuracy and they also memorized the songs, scriptures and messages. When ready, they had taken their knowledge back to their village and taught all the children.
Amazing! God, who used a young shepherd 2000 years ago to herald his message, used two shepherds today to do it again. Even though we didn't know the local dialect, we are so grateful to Global Recordings Network who made it possible for us to bring the Gospel of Jesus Christ to the people so they could hear His story and burden for them. Praise God for the gift of language and the ministry of GRN!