“What was in Adil”
January 16, 2014
We arrived in M. (pop. 1 million) after lunch. Redouan and Mehdi would be waiting for us here having just arrived themselves from a long trip from the north. They trusted in Jesus just a few months ago in a house church a team member started in the northern part of the country and have quickly become dear brothers. Mehdi is originally from M. and has family here.
We greeted each other with a big hug plus four traditional kisses on the cheek and went to Mehdi’s mother’s house to have lunch for two hours. We told them what had happened to us and how God had been with us. They were amazed by the “crazy things” we were doing. We all prayed and promised to see each other in the future.
It was around 4 p.m. by the time our taxi finally filled up with the 6 passengers necessary for the driver to leave for our next destination: C. (pop. 15,000). When we arrived it was raining heavily. We were alone at the taxi station not knowing where to go. We were waiting on Mohamed, a 25 year-old young man that came from a village located 40 km away from C. We had heard that he was making the trip just to see us and receive a New Testament so we could not let a little rain deter us from meeting this extraordinary seeker.
C. is the first majority Berber town close to M. When the Arabs conquered North Africa and forced Islam on the people by the sword, they settled in the major cities on the coast and in certain outposts in the mountains. Large areas of the country remain almost entirely Berber. The Berbers do not prefer this name as it means “ignorant” in Latin. They prefer the name Amazighn meaning “free man”. The are proud to have resisted Roman and Carthagenian rule. The relationship between the Arabs and the Amazighn have been both friendly and hostile depending on time and place.
We must have been conspicuous in the rain for Mohammed did not hesitate to greet us by name. He took us to what seemed to be the only hotel in town. We settled into a corner at the café on the street nearby where we would be sure to have some time and privacy. We were filled with joy to hand him his copy of the New Testament and share the Gospel with him for an hour. It had been a hectic Friday and we were worn out due to our trip but happy to know God was with us and using us every step of the way to tell some who had never heard about their Savior.
We woke early Saturday morning having no idea what life-changing event lay in wait for us in the next town. We had one more contact to give a copy of the written Gospel to and we were intent on doing that. After waiting for Abdelkarim for over an hour my patience was running out. What I didn’t know whas that he had taken a 50 km trip just to see us and get a New Testament. When he finally came we had just enough time to hand him his promised package and pray for him. Adil was waiting for us in E.
E. (pop. 500,000) means “the wall” in Arabic. Its 500 year-old walls protecting the old city jut out above the sea below in dramatic style. Hanno of Carthage founded this beautiful coastal city in the 5th century BC because of its ideal harbor. During the 19th century, the city was comprised of 40% Jews, the only other officially recognized religious group in the country, and thus became the recognized spiritual capital for the Jews in North Africa. The overwhelming majority of the Jews have since relocated to Israel but some still make pilgrimages home every year to E. Today the city welcomes a million tourists a year but its walls still stand against the tide of the preaching of the Gospel of Christ. There is no known local congregation in this major city. No light. No hope.
We were late for our 3 pm rendezvous because of the torrential downpour that seemed to be following us. Adil, whose name means justice, was already at the taxi station waiting when we arrived. From our five-foot vantage point this Arab or Berber appeared to be around six foot tall and 27 years old.
In all the major cities Arabs and Berbers have intermarried for centuries so it is not always easy to tell them apart.
We talked with him for just a short time sitting outside a small coffee shop on a busy street. “I don’t have much time”, I remember he said rather nervously, “I need to work.” So I opened my luggage revealing by mistake all the literature I had, and continued to give him a New Testament along with some tracts and a CD. He abruptly thanked us for the gifts, stood, and walk off quickly. The thought occurred to us that that was a rather strange departure but neither of us mentioned it.
We stayed in the coffee shop for a while to take a break before continuing with our trip. However, instead of continuing on our trip, two police vans pulled up within fifteen minutes that would take us in an entirely different direction than we had planned.
Four uniformed police officers got off the vans and came straight toward us. Joel quickly hid all our material under our chairs as it became apparent that they were focused in on the two of us. They asked us to give them our material. In an effort to divert, I showed them my Spanish Bible that I had just been reading. They took it.
They weren’t finished despite all my wishes to the contrary. They then asked for our passports and told us we needed to go with them to the police station. I used the only excuse I could think of to buy us time, “I need to pay the bill.” The police officer gave a reluctant nod approving of my request. Once inside the shop I called a Christian friend to tell her: “The police have just caught us.”
When I came out of the shop, I noticed that Adil had arrived and was looking for our literature under the chairs. He took all we had with our bags and put them in the back of the vans. When we were heading to the police station Adil was in the same car with us. Adil. A seeker but not of truth, not of God.
They confiscated our cell phones, tracts, New Testaments, address books, my Spanish Bible and passports. We would be isolated for nine hours from communicating with our brothers, our team, any support on the outside and at times even isolated from each other. That day we’d learn lessons we’ll never forget. Lessons you can’t plan for or buy.
Lessons we learned:
John 2:23-25 “Now when he was in Jerusalem at the Passover, in the feast day, many believed in his name, when they saw the miracles which he did. But Jesus did not commit himself unto them, because he knew all men, and needed not that any should testify of man: for he knew what was in man.”
Jesus knew the wicked hearts of men with righteous sounding tongues. We don’t have that same capability to know what is in every man’s heart. We are not commissioned to know that. We are only commissioned to preach the Gospel and watch for fruit to come from the ground where we have sown. It is by their fruits that you will know them not by their words. God knew what Adil’s intentions were before we did. He could have stopped the meeting but He didn’t. He uses the wicked intentions of man to bring about good for us and glory for Him. We do not trust in man, we trust in God. We do not commit ourselves to man but commit ourselves to God for protection and guidance.