The biblical Saul hated Christians. He lived to see them die. Then, chosen by God and converted in a miraculous moment (Acts 9), Saul began going by the name of Paul and a new kind of zeal defined him—the desire to proclaim the good news of Jesus among those living and dying without Him…no matter the cost.
That was 2,000 years ago. Today in West Africa, Mobo* is a modern-day Paul.
Beatings. Threats. Arson. Murder. Innocent lives persecuted and taken by a group of men seething with hatred for anyone converting from the Muslim religion to follow Jesus Christ. Their leader? A man whose name shot terror through the veins of every believer in the area.
Then, through covert friendship evangelism in the area, one of his two wives, Rayowa,* became a secret believer. But she couldn’t keep quiet.
One night she boldly confronted Mobo, “The people you are persecuting are innocent. You should stop.”
“They deserve death! They cannot deny Allah and go on living!”
His voice grew hoarse from yelling. Then, in an instant, he slumped to the floor, falling fast asleep on the mat. His wives had never seen him do anything like this. Assuming he had a stroke, they poured cold water on him, but he did not wake up.
Five minutes crept by. Then, just as suddenly as he’d fallen to the ground, Mobo sat up, shook his head and blinked. “Jesus,” he said. “How do I follow Jesus?”
The women stared at him, stunned.
“What are you talking about?” asked Daraja,* his second wife.
“Did you not see Him?” he asked. “The man. In gleaming white.”
Mobo continued looking around the room, blinking. “He told me He loved me. He declared me forgiven for persecuting His people. He said His name. It was Jesus. He wants me to follow Him. I do not see Him. Where is He? How do I follow Him?”
“He fell to the ground and heard a voice say to him, ‘Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?’” (Acts 9:4, NIV)
Saying yes to Jesus
After asking his wives to go to their rooms so he could be alone, Rayowa heard him weeping through the night, repeatedly choking out, “I’m so sorry.” She had never previously heard him cry.
In the morning, Daraja left for the market. Rayowa uttered a silent prayer and seized her opportunity.
“I know and follow Jesus, Mobo. You can, too.”
She shared the gospel with him and he fell to his knees. There in their house, he accepted Jesus.
“I must know more,” he said.
“‘Who are you, Lord?’ Saul asked. ‘I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting,’ he replied.” (Acts 9:5, NIV)
Seeking more information
Mobo left the house, walking the 8.7-mile distance on the dusty road to the house leader of local Christian converts. Seeing him in the distance, the Christians fled.
“Do not be afraid!” Mobo yelled.
“I do not seek to harm. I must talk to you! In peace!”
Standing outside, he shouted his story to the trees, hoping the Christians had not fled far and were still within earshot. One by one they emerged. Holding his empty hands to show he carried no weapons, fuel, or flames with him, they came out from hiding and invited him inside. There, he repeated his story. They sat and listened, shocked and amazed.
Over the next two weeks, Mobo walked to the leader’s house four times, though it took him nearly three hours each way. The believers explained more about Jesus and taught from the Bible. He listened intently, confessing the gruesome acts he’d committed and repeatedly expressing his inability to comprehend how God could possibly forgive him.
The believers sat in awe and wonder, praising God for the miracle of their enemy’s salvation.
“Saul spent several days with the disciples in Damascus.” (Acts 9:19, NIV)
Two weeks after his conversion…
In the silence of the black night, Rayowa woke from a deep sleep.
She heard the voices outside.
Waking Mobo and telling him to run, he refused. Rayowa gathered their three children and fled for safety. From the surrounding bushes she looked back to see the house lit up in flames. They made their way toward the home of the Christian leader.
Three days after the fire, no body was found inside or out.
When a zealous leader like Mobo forsakes the Muslim religion, it does not go well for him. His former band of zealots will stop at nothing to win him back. And if he refuses? Death.
“Day and night they kept close watch on the city gates in order to kill him.” (Acts 9:24, NIV)
Fighting for his life
Mobo was indeed captured that night, interrogated, and bribed with money, a new wife, possessions…anything a man could want. He refused. He proclaimed his story—he’d met Jesus, Jesus forgave him, and Jesus loves them. His former friends were baffled. And furious.
“He’s demon possessed. We will do incantations over him. If that doesn’t restore his right mind, we will kill him.”
The magic spells failed, and Mobo’s continual, adrenaline-pumping fight for survival began. So, too, did his quest to declare the truth of the gospel to every person he meets, particularly high-level Muslim leaders Christians don’t have access to.
Over the course of 15 months, Mobo has escaped more arson attempts to kill him, and has been severely beaten, injured, and hospitalized for weeks on end…all the while refusing to deny Jesus.
“Rather, as servants of God we commend ourselves in every way: in great endurance; in troubles, hardships and distresses; in beatings, imprisonments and riots; in hard work, sleepless nights and hunger…and yet we live on; beaten, and yet not killed; sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; poor, yet making many rich; having nothing, and yet possessing everything.” (2 Corinthians 6: 4-5, 9-10, NIV)
Because of God, Mobo, and YOU
Mobo is not safe today. He is separated from his family. He fights for his life every day. But more than that, he fights for the God who forgave and saved him.
“I never knew there was a love like His,” he says.
Because of Mobo’s testimony, many have come to faith in Jesus, including dozens of his former men. Eight were just reported killed for converting. Mobo is caring for their families. Seventeen are now being trained to reach out as missionaries to their own people.
Because of Mobo’s example, the persecuted believers in the area are filled with new courage to share Jesus.
Because God is actively moving in Mobo’s village and the surrounding area, the gospel is spreading like wildfire.
And because of YOU, new life is springing forth where it has long been squelched. Please continue to pray for Mobo, his family, the new believers who have come to faith through Mobo’s testimony, and those who’ve yet to hear the gospel.
We believe God hears our prayers. Mike,* a SIM worker, has diligently monitored Mobo’s situation and sent prayer updates to a dedicated group of intercessors for the past year and a half. We believe God hears and continues to respond by preserving Mobo’s life and using him in mighty ways.
Thank you for joining in what God is doing through SIM to reach Muslims and the many unreached in West Africa. You help make it possible for people like Mobo to discover the life-giving truth and love of Jesus.
Please join us in prayer:
- PRAY for Mobo, his family, and the new believers in the area, that they will be strengthened and protected.
- PRAY for boldness and courage among believers throughout West Africa as they continue to spread the gospel in this closed country.
- PRAY that more anti-Christian zealots would come to follow Jesus.
Your generosity today reaches unbelieving radicals—like Mobo once was—all around the world.
Please prayerfully consider giving a gift to further impact the kingdom of God.