Plan B

Every year, we host a gathering for our workers across North Africa. It’s always a time of rich fellowship and support for leaders who are under-resourced and often isolated. Sometimes, however, some of the leaders are unable to attend because they can’t acquire travel visas.

This year, I was particularly discouraged when I found out that two brothers from one country couldn’t come to our gathering. We knew that they’d recently endured much persecution and we had looked forward to the opportunity to encourage them.

However, even before our conference was over, we heard a report from those two brothers that helped us understand why perhaps God had blocked their path and kept them in their country.

Instead of traveling abroad, the brothers decided to visit a local marketplace where a militant anti-slavery group was staging a demonstration. The group was well known for their active – and sometimes violent – involvement in addressing the problem of underground slavery in the country.

At the demonstration, they met an activist named Bashir (not his real name) whose people had been enslaved for many years by the dominant tribe, of which these two brothers were a part. Bashir shared his painful story about growing up not knowing his father and seeing his mother mistreated day after day by her employer. From an early age, he developed a deep hatred for members of the dominant tribe and dedicated his life to seeking justice for his people, whatever the cost. The brothers shared the hope of the Gospel with Bashir and told him that Jesus Christ came to set his people free. Bashir received a Bible and went on his way.

The next day, Bashir called the brothers and invited them to his home. He told them plainly, “Last night, I met Jesus. He came to me in a dream and told me that he alone could set my people free, and that I should no longer put my hope in politics or human rights.”

Bashir surrendered his heart to Jesus and then told the brothers that he needed to go quickly to tell his whole tribe this amazing news. After some discussion of the risks involved, Bashir said, “I’m not afraid. I have met the One who sets slaves free!”