FAITH IN THE MIDST OF ASHES
But now, this is what the LORD says…“Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze.
~ Isaiah 43:1-2 (NIV)
Twenty-eight-year-old evangelist Wako Halekie works in the town of Tuka Argiso in the border area between Ethiopia and Kenya. This small town is mostly inhabited by Borena livestock herders and is effectively divided between Oromia and Somali regional states. As a result both states are claiming ownership over Tuka Argiso. The federal government tried to hold a referendum to resolve the dispute, but they were unsuccessful.
Three years ago, Wako Halekie was assigned by his church to work as a missionary among the livestock herders in Tuka-Argiso. Despite their nomadic existence, Wako was able to plant three churches with an average of fifty members in each congregation. He attributes the positive growth to God’s blessing on the ministry. But Islamic presence in Tuka-Argiso is growing progressively. Muslim missionaries from neighbouring villages are determined to Islamize all Borenas which rouses concern in the Christian community.
Wako says, “They regard my activities as an obstacle to their mission. I was alerted by some villagers about their antagonistic feelings towards me. Recently the Muslim missionaries criticised the Christian faith openly and tried to confuse our members.”
On March 30th, 2011, Wako left home for a routine visit to new Christian converts. In the early morning hours of March 31st, one of the three houses at his residence was set afire. The fire spread to the second and third house where his wife, newborn baby and their two older children were sleeping. Both the first and second house burnt to the ground. By the grace of God neighbours managed to rescue Wako’s family from the blaze just in time before the third house’s roof crashed in. None of their belongings were spared.
Mrs. Haleki said, “I heard a distant noise but thought I was dreaming. The next thing I knew, people broke through the door and dragged me and the children from the smoke. I was shocked and speechless.” She was still recovering from the birth of their third child a week before.
Wako says, “I know the purpose of this fire was to destroy me and my family. But God intervened and saved my wife and children. God is faithful to His words! As it was written in the book of Isaiah 43:1-3; we will not fear their threats. God is our Redeemer. They thought I would leave the village, but I will not wave from the calling God bestowed on me. I took my wife’s hands and together we stood in the midst of the ashes and gave thanks to the name of the Lord. By His grace I will continue serving Him right here in this village until the day He has helped me reach the entire village.”
RESPONSE: Today I will trust God to fulfill His promises even when going through fire and flood.
PRAYER: Pray for Evangelist Wako and his family working in difficult circumstances and pressures.