Jesus’ parable of the Good Samaritan teaches us to love our neighbors and receive all people, no matter their ethnic, cultural or religious background. Our Adventist pastor friend Dembele is a living example of this.
Dembele and his family share a courtyard with a man named Sangare and his family. Sangare is Fulani, a tribe in Mali that is 100 percent Muslim. Most Fulanis keep to themselves and do not mingle with other tribes. Also, they are very proud of their knowledge of the Qur’an.
Dembele and his family are members of the Bobo tribe, which is predominantly Christian or pagan. The Fulani look down on the Bobos, even accusing them of cannibalism.
Sangare has two children, a six-year-old girl and a two-year-old boy. Every morning, Dembele would greet Sangare and his family, but they would not respond. Also, Sangare did not allow his children to play with Dembele’s children.
Dembele told his family to be friendly with Sangare’s children. When Dembele went to town, he would purchase small gifts for Sangare’s kids. However, when he offered the biscuits or candy to Sangare’s children, they wouldn’t accept them. Dembele prayed for wisdom and opportunities to reach out to Sangare and his family.
On Thursday evening at about 11 p.m. Dembele awoke to the sound of Sangare’s pregnant wife Aichata screaming his name. Dembele ran to her and discovered that she was going into labor and was bleeding heavily, and Sangare was away. Dembele called to his wife to help Aichata while he went in search of an ambulance. Dembele’s wife couldn’t understand Aichata, who only speaks Fulani, so she called another Fulani woman who could interpret into Bambara. The woman arrived with Sangare’s nephew. Dembele and his wife wanted to take Aichata to the hospital, but Sangare’s nephew refused, insisting that Aichata could not go to the hospital without the consent of her husband. Dembele told the nephew that Aichata was losing too much blood, but still the nephew refused.
Sangare showed up at about 1 a.m. Grasping the gravity of the situation, he ran to Dembele, apologizing and begging for his help. Sangare said he didn’t know anyone in town besides his nephew. Dembele accepted his apology, and they both went to look for an ambulance. They met the ambulance driver, but he refused to go with them because of the nephew’s attitude. Dembele pleaded with the driver to forgive them and think about the mother and the child. He finally came. At the hospital, the staff didn’t want to admit Aichata, but the midwife intervened, and they finally agreed to admit her. Amazingly, both Aichata and the baby survived.
The next day was Sabbath. Before going to church, Dembele asked his wife to take a breakfast to Aichata. Soon after church ended, Aichata was discharged from the hospital, and Dembele’s wife was there to help her. Seeing that the baby was wrapped in a small, dirty cloth, she gave Aichata some wraps to put on and to wrap the baby. Aichata was so thankful, and a friendship between the two women began to blossom.
Seven days later they held the traditional Muslim naming ceremony in which an imam reads verses from the Qur’an and pronounces blessings on the child. Sangare invited Dembele to the celebration. When Dembele arrived, he discovered that he knew the imam well, and they were the only two non-Fulani people in attendance. The Imam has deep respect for Dembele, so he invited him to give an address to start the ceremony. The day Dembele had prayed for had finally come! He took the opportunity to tell everyone about the love of God in creating man. “God does not isolate Himself from us,” he said. “If God created the world and all that is in it, we need to associate not only with our brothers and sisters but with all humanity.” Dembele told them about his Seventh-day Adventist faith, how he worships on the biblical Sabbath and brings the Three Angels’ messages to the world. He talked about how Muslims think all Christians are lawless drunks and thieves. Then he took them to Leviticus 11 where it talks about clean and unclean food. He told them what Adventists believe about following God’s laws. Everyone was surprised to hear that, and some began asking questions, wanting to know more.
Praise God for the opportunity He gave to Dembele! Please pray for Sangare and our Muslim friends that they will discover Jesus, their Lord and Savior. Pray that Jesus will appear to them in dreams and guide them into His church.