Shanksteps #145
by Greg Shank
February 14, 2010



How do I share God with an idolater?

I believe that as a Christian I have two things I am to do in life.  First is to have a relationship with God.  The second is to share what we learned with others who want to know Him.

I was in my office seeing a patient, Faissam.  Audrey had seen him already and thought he had a liver tumor.  He has had epigastric pain for about 3 years and it’s been worsening.  As she examined his abdomen there is a prominent mass in his upper abdomen on the right side.

Faissam lay down on the exam table, exposing his abdomen.  A mass can easily be seen in his guant form.  A scafoid abdomen is draped over a mass in his upper abdomen.  His ribs are visible, he has swelling of his feet.  His neck muscles stand out more than normal as do his facial bones.  As I palpate the mass it feels irregular and is larger than the size of a softball.  I do an ultrasound and find that the tumor replaces his entire right lobe of the liver.  His left liver appears normal.  Afterwards I tell him that there is nothing that can be done here.  If he is someone with money, a biopsy could be done and then based on that chemotherapy agents might be helpful.  He said he did not have any money.

I know that his time is limited, so I asked him what his beliefs were, traditional, muslim, Christian?  He said he believed the traditional beliefs.  As you have read before this consists of idolatry, sorcery, sacrifices and appeasing evil spirits.  I can only imagine the uncertainty and fear this belief system would have on him.  I shared with him what I believe.

“I believe different than you!  You know that this is a Christian institution and I am a Christian.  I believe that there is a God.  I believe that God created the world and humans too.  I believe that God loves us and wants the best for us.  He doesn’t want the pain and suffering that you are feeling now.  It makes Him sad to see your pain and that you have this disease.  One day He will come back and take those that believe in Him to paradise.  A place where there is no more disease, no more pain, no more suffering.  I believe that He wants all of us to be there with Him (I point to all us in the room).  He has created a special place for you and your family in paradise.  If you are interested I will try to arrange another Christian to come to your house and talk with you some more.”  He says he is interested.  I asked the person translating- Avava if there is any Christian church in his village.  He said there is one.  But he felt that he may not accept to learn from someone in his own village.  So he offered to visit him.  I know that Avava does not have a motorcycle to go out to his village.  So I told Faissam that sometime we would both come out there to visit him.

A week later we went out to his house.  We had gotten the area from him when in my office.  So we headed out on the moto.  As we left my house we went past the primary school and past the men gathered under a large tree playing cards.  Winding through the village towards the west.  Children are yelling Nassara and waving.  Some yell Bic, Bic.  They want a pen.  We cross the dry river bed and pass women at a well pulling up buckets of water.  (typhoid central)  We go past hundreds of thatch roofed huts.  Then a little open area with sparsely placed huts.  Next is a larger concession with a mud wall around it.  This is the Lawan.  I park my moto in front of his house.  We greet him and tell him we are going to see Faissam.  He points the direction to go.  A young boy leads us to his house, it’s a short walk.

As I walk up I see him laying on a plastic mat out in front of his hut.  Chickens and chicks run around and scatter as we walk up.  Faissam and his wife are shelling peanuts with their 5 year old daughter.  I find out she is not theirs but their children have died so they have been raising her for the past five years.  He is laying in the shade of his hanger.  A place that has a few dried millet stalks and corn husks piled on them.  They are for storing food away from the animals reach, but for him it appears to be more of a shade from the sun.