Nafana people spread "the Jesus Way"
By Jeslyn Lemke
Cote d'Ivoire, WEST AFRICA – Her thoughts boiled with negativity. Her husband was dead, there were eight mouths to feed and food wasn't getting cheaper.
Life was more survival until the day Siata met Jesus. Then it all changed.
"'Take the Jesus way. Follow the Jesus way,'" she remembers her son-in-law Djakalia (Zak) telling her.
"Things got better," she said.
Keeping the peace around her little restaurant under a sprawling mango tree became easier. Siata's thoughts became far less conflicted. Managing the children was less stressful. She began to notice certain things about this new Savior in her life.
For example, when she prayed, God responded.
On a typical day, her daughters grind corn paste in the flies and sun. Children drape themselves over the roots of the mango tree. Their house is made of concrete with a tin roof and the kitchen is a clay oven set under an open straw hut.
Siata's house sits behind the flowery yard of International Mission Board missionaries Carol and Jerry Robertson.
The Robertsons' mission is to tell Bible stories in the local language, Nafaanra. News about Jesus is now spreading throughout the region because of their Bible stories, which they've been telling for eight years.
Multiple villagers like Siata came to Christ from simply hearing the Gospel.
"When something is stronger than you, that is what you follow," said believer Bakary after a Sunday service, commenting on why he came to Jesus.
Siata became a believer after her son-in-law Zak shared Christ with her. Zak translates for the Robertsons and was one of the first Nafana to become a Christian because of their teaching.
The man really began to spread Jesus after he suffered a potentially fatal snake bite. His family was ready to give him up as dead.
"They were already in mourning. My foot was swelling and I couldn't walk on it," said Zak.
He remembers telling his family about his faith in Jesus: "I'm not afraid to die. If I die, God will be with me."
When Zak quickly recovered days later, the incident became a huge talking point for his faith. People began asking questions.
Elated, Zak began to share Jesus with his family. Eight of his family members, including Siata, gave their lives to Jesus.
Siata has now shared the news of Jesus with her own mother, who then traveled to two more villages with cassettes talking about Jesus in the local language.
The 70-year-old woman walked about 14 miles in the sizzling African heat to take the news. People need to hear this, the old woman repeated to herself multiple times to push herself along. She fell sick after arriving but the visit was well worth her suffering. People's interest heightened once their eager ears heard the word of God over the tapes.
Now these two villages are interested in hearing more about Jesus.
Zak says that about 40 more Nafana are considering giving their lives to Jesus. He continues to witness and trust that God is moving.
As for Siata, her days pass with more peace. When the piercing African sun brings the dawn, you can find her, her daughter and Zak gathered to pray. Every morning near the little restaurant under the mango tree, they talk to God.
"Instead of being angry, we pray about the problems now," she said.
"This is how my life changed," she said, quoting Romans 12:2, which urges believers to be transformed by the renewing of their mind.
The two villages who heard the Jesus cassettes are still in need of someone to come teach "the Jesus Way," as they are too far for the Robertsons to get there regularly. They're hungry for the word; they just need a witness.
For prayer requests and more information about the Nafana, click here.