He came by night to speak with Jesus because He was afraid and ashamed to visit in broad daylight. In our Muslim-dominated culture in Mali where everyone is suspicious of each another, people are very careful whom they mingle with and what they do.
Yanbourou is a devoted Muslim. He is 27 years old and has 12 grades of education. He supports himself by selling assorted items in his boutique. One day I bought some items from him, and he gave me too much change. When I handed the extra money back to him, he looked at me in surprise. “Are you a Christian?” he asked.
“How did you know?” I replied.
His answer surprised me: “Christians are honest and faithful,” he said. “They do not lie. When they pray, God answers their prayers.”
“What about Muslims?” I asked him.
“Oh, we are the most dishonest people!” he replied.
I was very interested in this conversation, and I wanted to keep it going. “But you are a Muslim,” I said.
“Yes. Because of my parents, I am Muslim.”
Something in the expression on Yanbourou’s face and the tone of his voice told me that he was thirsty for truth. I decided to change gears. “Would you like to be a successful businessman?” I asked.
“Yes!” he exclaimed. I promised to come back another day and talk more with him about how God’s principles of honesty could bless his business.
Three days later I returned to Yanbourou’s boutique. He was very happy to see me. “I told you that Christians keep their promises!” he said with a grin.
As we began to talk, I asked Yanbourou about his family. He seemed touched by my concern. Our conversation then shifted to the life of Moses. I took Yanbourou through the Old Testament and explained to him about the prophets. He was excited to learn that many of the same stories are in the Qur’an. He told me that he wanted to read the Bible for himself. He asked if I could give him an electronic Bible because a paper copy would raise people’s suspicions. I downloaded the Bible into his cell phone, and he is now studying with us regularly.
Yanbourou has a lot of questions about the God of the Christians. “Who is Jesus?” he asked me one day in a challenging tone. “Is Jesus the Son of God?” Knowing that this goes against the teaching of the Qur’an, sensed a trap. After I sent up a quick, silent prayer, I used Jesus’ method, taking Yanbourou back to the Old Testament, pointing out the prophesies of Jesus’ divine birth. Then I quoted Surat 19:16-21 of the Qur’an, a verse in which the angel Gabriel appears to Mary and announces the immaculate birth of Jesus. “So, who is Jesus?” I asked, turning the question back to him.
He fumbled for an answer for a few moments. “A prophet,” he finally said without conviction.
Please pray for me and Yanbourou. Pray that God will send Yanbourou and his friends dreams of Jesus. Muslims believe that dreams are revelations from God, and they do not doubt them. Pray that Yanbourou will be the Nicodemus of the Malinke people, that he will one day boldly and publicly reveal what he is now beginning to believe.