My friend Musa died today. Tears flooded my eyes as I tried to tell the team what happened. I have seen more death in Africa than in all my 50 years in the States, but I still have not grown accustomed to it.
I met Musa four years ago in the bush. I was out cutting down trees for our African cabana and he walked up to me wearing a t-shirt that said: “Eu amo Jesus” (I love Jesus). I knew that God had sent this man into my life. I was at the right place at the right time. Funny in a way that I could be doing such an “unspiritual” thing, as cutting a tree down but be right smack in the center of God’s will. If I had never obeyed the call to go to Africa, if I had decided not to go cut trees that day, if…. I don’t know. I just know that God loved that man and sent him to me.
From there a relationship began. I’ve been to his home in Kazegwa, way out in the bush, and also his home in the city. As a Muslim man Musa had married two wives 45 years ago and through the years was faithful to both.
Then I was sent out of the country in 2012 for nine months until we could get our visa situation worked out. After that we kind of lost touch, although I had communicated to him a few times through David, one of our team members.
All of the sudden I hear he is in Sanga and would like me to come visit. I jumped on the opportunity and made the arrangement with the guys to find the place. So Sunday morning we head out. Little did I know what I would encounter. Musa was sick. He was skin and bones and had been fighting illness for nine months. Oh, if I had only known sooner, but Jesus knew and got me there just in time.
I’ve seen the look of death before, but I have never backed down from praying. Healing a body is nothing for my God. Before we prayed for him I had the opportunity to speak with him about our Jesus. “Do you remember the first time we met?” “Yes”, he said with great effort to communicate. “Do you remember the shirt you were wearing?” “Yes, I love Jesus”, he said. “Do you love Jesus, Musa? Do you know that the Bible says that He is the Way, the Truth, and the Life, and that no one comes to God except through Him? Not through Mohammad, but only through Jesus. Do you believe this?” “Yes” he said, “I believe”.
We prayed for Him. I held his hands and looked into his eyes with a smile on my face. I loved that man. He smiled back as he lay there with head in the lap of his wife. We parted and decided to come back again in a couple of days to pray some more. That opportunity never came. The next morning I received the call. He was gone.
I believe Musa is with Jesus today. I believe that God brought him to me four years ago, and I believe yesterday God brought me to him. Like the thief on the cross to whom Jesus declared “Today you will me in Paradise,” Musa did not have opportunity to live for Jesus or even be baptized, but he lives with Christ now.
I went to the funeral this morning with Tony, Nelson, David, and Boa. I was the only white guy among a few hundred men and women. We sat quietly on the stoop of the dirt porch. I had no clue what was going to happen. As I sat there I looked around the courtyard, fenced with capi (tall grass) with wood posts. Two of the posts stood out to me because they had began to grow. Most posts, having been cut in the bush, don’t come alive again. They are cut and that’s the end of it – they’re dead. But then there were those two, out of maybe 60 or so. I asked the Lord, does Musa live? He pointed to the post directly in front of me. Yes. Though he died, he now lives! Boy, I wanted to get up and preach right then.
They invited me to come into the house where Musa lay and pray. So I and the guys went in and knelt down next to the covered body. I prayed, not for Musa, but for that family and that village. It was an emotional moment and I put my arm over the shoulder of Musa’s son kneeling next to me.
As they brought the casket around everyone put his hand to it to help pass it along. I did the same. Then we sat again in silence and some of the men did some Muslim prayers. The temporary casket was put into the bed of a pickup and all the men followed. Some got rides, most just walked. The women, including the two wives, were not to go to the gravesite. At the gravesite they sang and prayed, each giving a helping hand to put dirt over the body. A body that will one day, unbeknown to them, will rise again when that trumpet sounds! And we will be joined together with those who have gone on before us. I will see Musa again. I long for that day.