The Man from Maseru
From Perth to Cape Town and beyond we have collected many experiences and although most of them are extremely incredible there is one in my mind that stands out above the rest.
It's the story of the Man from Maseru.
We spent four weeks in Lesotho (La-Soo-Too), a tiny nation within the nation of South Africa, and our time was coming to a close. Every morning we would walk out of our house to be greeted by many waves from the neighbors who had grown comfortable with our presence among them or points and shouts of "Makhoa! Makhoa!" (Ma-Hoe-Ah (with a small spit sound) which means "White People!") from the casual passerby. We would always stop and say good day to our closest neighbors who would normally be sitting in their dirt lot out front of their 4x5 sheet metal home while they would braai (Bry which is an African version of a BBQ) with the biggest smiles on their faces. On the other side of our home was a small group of shacks that served as homes to women who put on a preschool for about 20 knee high Basotho (the name of the people from Lesotho) children.We were apart of that community and loved the relationships we built with our neighbors but on this particular day I ventured further back into our community than I ever had before. I was meeting a Basotho friend and keeping a promise I made to him the first day we arrived in Lesotho, but that's another story altogether. As I was walking back from his shack a group of men waved me over to their home. They asked if I would mind sitting and having a conversation with them. They continued by saying that I was the first white man that any of them had ever spoken to and they wanted to have a conversation because they counted it a privilege and they wanted to practice their English. They asked me many questions about my thoughts on their government, their economic situation and they were very curious about what it's like to ride in an airplane. Many of their questions were pointed at me with a "savior" attitude and I continuously had to direct their questions back at them. When they asked me what I was going to do to raise the quality of life in their neighborhood I would redirect the question to "What are you going to do?" The questions continued until we finally landed on the subject of why I would take time out my life to come to a place so overlook as Lesotho. I explained the calling God has on my life and my heart to help others find the calling He has on their lives but, more importantly help them realize their role as a child of God. When I told them one of the biggest reasons I was there was to work with various organizations to help bring awareness and an end to human trafficking they asked me to explain to them what human trafficking was. We had a great conversation about what human trafficking looks like, how people are vulnerable, what to do if it happens to them. They were very engaged, asking questions, they even told me stories of loved ones that went through the very situations I was describing. Naturally, the conversation moved from why I was there into who it was that sent me. They started asking me all kinds of questions about Jesus and we shared stories back and forth about his faithfulness in our lives. The six men I was talking to were all followers of Christ. The conversation was rich and deep. That's when a man with the darkest presence, I had encountered to that point in our outreach, came walking up.
He walked up just as the conversation was enthralled by in-depth questions about the character and nature of Christ. The man walked up with his four-year-old daughter in hand, he laughed when he saw his buddies were talking to a white man. He walked over with a smile gleaming with suspect and he offered his daughter over to me. He asked me how much I would be willing to pay for her. The men looked at me waiting to hear my response only minutes after I finished my impassioned explanation of the disgusting industry of the buying and selling of humans. I looked at the man, politely laughed and said, "she is beautiful indeed, but I'm not going to buy her, the value she is worth is more than I could ever afford." He made many sarcastic comments in English and Sesotho (the official language of Lesotho) that would get the fellas laughing and distract them from the discussion about Jesus. I instantly recognized the spiritual influence he had with the group and the negative direction his comments were intended to draw away. I prayed against the spiritual warfare under my breath but payed no mind to his words because as soon as the guys started getting off topic they would refocus and ask him to stay silent and that he should listen to what I had to say. They were so eager to hear more and discuss more. The man would walk into the shack and hide away until he was ready to interject with another timely diverting remark; that happened a few times. As I continued to talk I noticed that there was a point in the conversation with the men where the man walked out of the shack and he sat down on an old tarnished tire silently and just listened. It was at this moment I knew I had said something that got his attention. After a few minutes of silent observation the man started interjecting again, this time with questions. The conversation swiftly switched from me talking to six men to a one-on-one conversation between me and this man with six witnesses taking notes. He asked me about how the God I was talking about could pay for all the terrible decisions of man and more importantly, why would he pay for them. I answered his direct questions and began to explain to him the Power of Redemption. He asked me if God would truly forgive a man of all his mistakes. I explained it all starts with the Power of Confession and a decision to turn from the choice made in the past and accept Christ's Grace and choosing to live differently in the future. No sooner as I finished explaining the power of confession the man began to tell me his past sins. I told him that I wasn't concerned with his confession but rather it was God he was to go and talk to. He ignored me and continued to open up so I just let him get his troubles off his chest. He told me that he drinks and smokes daily. I told him God will forgive him of that if he felt like those things would stand in the way of his relationship with Jesus. He then explained how he cheats on his wife without remorse. I told him that that was a situation he had the power to stop and for his daughter's sake, who was still sitting with us, he should end immediately. Then he looked at me with the most emotion I had seen yet and said that he had murder a man. He began to explain, which I will not do because the nature of his story was far to graphic...I figure I'll just spare you the unnecessarily descriptive details. In truth after he told me the story it sounded much more like an accident than murder. So I explained the Power in our Testimony. I told him a testimony we had as a team while God had been working through us that week in a prison. That week we were working in a juvenile detention facility and 40 teenagers accepted Christ as their Lord and Savior. One of them was named Oscar and he was a 17-year-old boy who was in there because he was involved with satanism and he ripped out a man's heart while he was living because he believed it would sear his soul from feeling any remorse about any of his future choices or actions. He quickly discovered that wasn't the case and soon found himself in prison. But when he heard about the redemption of Christ he made a decision to follow him with his life. Albeit we were only with Oscar for a week after his decision, but in that week we did major discipleship concerning what it means to have a prayer life, how and why to read the word of God and how to live our lives in response to the gift Christ gave us. The difference in the Oscar we met to the one we left was unbelievable, so much so that even his handler said it was unreal and encouraging. As I explained Oscar's story to the man his eyes began to change, they were less malicious and more hopeful. The man said he wanted what I was talking about, but he said there was one more thing, that he also killed another man. He began to tell me the story, but I asked him to stop because one, it was extremely graphic (he murdered a man much more intentionally than the last story he explained) and two, because it changed nothing...God is ready to forgive no matter what you have done. He responded by asking what he needed to do. I told him we were going to pray together, not that the words would save him but the condition of his heart, but by saying it out loud he was setting up a milestone in his life where he said he was living no longer for himself but Christ who was living through him. He was excited to accept Jesus right there. Then he turned to his daughter, talked for a bit in Sesotho explaining about Jesus and asked her, "do you want to accept Jesus into your life too?" She gave a big nod with a charismatic gapped tooth smile as you can imagine a little four-year-old girl would look like doing. It floored me to think that in a matter of a couple hours how God could change a man's heart from one who tried to sell his daughter to me at the beginning of the conversation to a man that was offering Jesus, the substance of all life, to his daughter by the end. He put his hand in my to pray then, unprompted, his adorable little daughter ran over an grabbed my oversized hand with her cute little hand to pray. He followed after me in English and one of the men sitting there watching everything transpire translated my prayer so his little girl could follow after me in Sesotho. Halfway through our prayer the little girl grabbed her daddy's hand, making a little triangle between the three of us, as if to let her father know the impact he just made on his legacy and how different they would grow up knowing the love of Christ.
That moment impacted me more that any other during our outreach because it was in that moment God changed the course of a family legacy and he gave me the privilege to be apart of it. I left the group of guys with resources and the name of a local church. I pray that God continues to work in them and for that man and his daughter that God will change the direction of that family drastically. I invite you to pray along with me. We may never know the results of our prayers here on earth but our reward doesn't reside here...so what's the trouble of a few words each day?
Thank you for your prayer and support!
That's the story of the Man from Maseru...and how his life changed Forever.