Neyma is 14 years old and one of seven children. Her father Setigi served as a guard for the first AFM missionaries on the Malinke Project. In time, he and his wife Umou left Islam and joined the Adventist Church. Setigi served as a church elder.
Though the church took care of Setigi’s family and helped them with their needs, the Muslim community made life miserable for them. When the missionaries had to return to the States to take care of their daughter’s health challenges, the community’s mocking and insults against Setigi and his family increased. The shame became too much for them, and they abandoned their faith and returned to Islam. However, as little Neyma got older, her passion for Christianity continued to grow.
When another AFM missionary family arrived on the Malinke Project, they reached out to Setigi’s family. But Setigi and his family were skeptical and didn’t want to have anything to do with Christians. They had succumbed to the idea that Christians are deceivers.
But Neyma made friends with the missionary children and spent time with them every day. Secretly, she started going to church with them. Her parents tried to stop her from attending church, but they were not always successful. Neyma found joy and happiness in her relationship with the missionary children. Eventually, her family welcomed the relationship, though they stayed in Islam. After seven years the new missionary family returned to the States. Neyma was disappointed and frustrated, and her family said a lot of things that discouraged her even more.
When we arrived on the Malinke Project, Neyma was still coming to church. Then she suddenly stopped coming. We visited her family and invited them to church, but they did not respond. They seemed afraid that we, too, would leave one day. I assured them that our mission is for 20 years, and even if we go, there will always be someone to replace us. Also, the local church members like Mama Dembele would always be with them.
Neyma hadn’t been happy at church because there weren’t other children in her peer group. But when she learned of our two adopted children, Souleymane and Nyeba, who are close to her age, she was overjoyed. She happily started coming to church again and spends a lot of time with our family. She even suggested that we should adopt her, but we doubt that her parents would be agreeable. Neyma loves the songs and Bible lessons my wife teaches during Sabbath school. Neyma told us that she is sharing the Bible lessons with her family, and they enjoy them, too.
I noticed that Neyma was always late for church service, so I asked her about it. She told me that her mother is against her going to church, so she gives her a lot of work on Sabbaths or sends her to the market to sell things. So Neyma goes to the market and sells the items and then rushes to church. My wife told her to be obedient and not to refuse her mother’s commission.
The Church prayed about this, asking God to do something for Neyma so that she can keep the Sabbath. I told her to bring her items to church, and I would buy them. Now Neyma is able to keep the Sabbath without offending her mother. She has been attending weekly prayer meetings and a baptismal class, and she was baptized last month. “I want to serve God and to know the truth,” she says.
Please pray that Neyma will continue to be a light that draws her family and her community to Christ.