Advent 1

“Come, Lord Jesus. Come, Lord Jesus. Come and be born in our hearts.”

The youngest of three sons, Sekou was born 20 years ago while his parents were living in Sierra Leone. Before the war their father abandoned them and soon their mother brought the boys back to her hometown in Guinea where her mother was employed by a missionary family.

At age five Sekou was weak and often sick.  His older brothers were in a Bible class with Brenda, another missionary. She prayed for Sekou’s healing, and he was healed. It would be ten years before he fully recognized Jesus as the Healer, but he would always remember receiving that new life.

One of my sister Joyce’s first memories of Sekou was in her English class at the Center of Hope: “He used to go outside into the courtyard to perform the Muslim prayers at 4:30 right in the middle of the class period. He was serious about God already then.” When his oldest brother left Islam to follow Jesus Sekou was angry. He began studying the Bible to prove it false. Instead, God’s Word drew him to the Light of the world.

In 2008 Sekou told Joyce this dream he had. First he was in a big, rundown car with his mother and brothers and the Fulbe believers; Joyce was driving on a winding road through the forest in the dark; the lights went out and Joyce continued driving carefully and without accident; when she stopped to fix the lights Sekou tried to help but Joyce said she could do it; she did and they continued on. Then he was in a nice car with his uncle’s family in Conakry; when Sekou asked to get back in after a pit stop his uncle took off without him; he ran after the car as fast as he could but it didn’t stop; he watched in alarm as the car hit a tree and landed upside-down in the branches; someone fell out into the water and drowned; others were hurt.

Sekou told Joyce this dream was from God at a time when he was facing a big decision. He had failed the big end-of-high-school exam (possibly because of corruption in the grading process): now he could repeat his senior year at home continuing involvement with the fledgling church or he could take up his uncle’s offer to pay for him to repeat his senior year at a private high school in Conakry where he would live in a Muslim household and be under great pressure to return to Islam. Sekou prayed to his heavenly Father asking for guidance, fell into a fitful sleep, and that’s when the dream came.

During his extra year at home Sekou worked with other young men and boys at the Center of Hope studying English and computer, participating in Bible study, playing basketball and other games. On his second try he passed the exam, and his first year at university was successful as well. Meanwhile inflation surged, and programs at the Center of Hope languished.

Last June Sekou came home for summer break rather than staying in Conakry where he could have had a job.  The Center came alive again as a place to socialize and learn. Sekou gave basic computer training and internet connection for a fee, plus he offered introductory English classes. The Center’s five copies of Jesus and Muhammad: Profound Differences and Surprising Similarities were in constant demand. Sekou’s middle brother began to follow Jesus as well. In fact, now that Sekou is in his second year at the university, this brother and another new believer are in charge of the computer room at the Center.

On December 10 Sekou is scheduled to take the TOEFL exam since he’s applied to Dordt College in Iowa (at Joyce and Dave’s suggestion). He is trusting God with the outcome, not obsessed with going to school in the US, believing God has a future for him in Guinea either way.

This Advent I’m rejoicing with Sekou and people all over the world in whose hearts Jesus is born.

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