Approaching the gathering just off the dirt street, Kofta watched as a stone hit the white man’s face. It bounced off but not before it drew blood, red streaks coloring the man’s white shirt. When Kofta noticed that the stranger did not leave his perch but continued speaking, he was intrigued. What could be so important that the man would keep speaking while stones were hurled at him?
Kofta lingered behind while the crowd dispersed. As a teacher, learning was important to the young African man; he was curious to hear the full story.
“Good afternoon, Sir. My name is Kofta. I heard only the end of your words. Is it possible to tell me the beginning?”
“Kofta, huh? Where did you get such a name? Sure, I’ll be glad to fill you in.” The missionary was smiling broadly, sweat pouring down his face in the hot African afternoon.
“Well, I’m on the National Soccer Team and the guys say I am such an important part of the team that they can’t go on the field without me. ‘Kofta’ is the tribal name for ‘shoes’. So, what were you saying about the Prophet Jesus?” Clearly the young man wanted the spotlight turned away from himself and onto what he had missed.
“Yes, you know of the miracles of the Prophet Jesus because the Koran speaks of his great power. But, my friend, there is much more to Jesus than being a prophet.” The two men enjoyed a lively discussion, the missionary pausing only periodically to swipe his handkerchief over his face and neck. Something was happening inside Kofta. He couldn’t explain it but he knew what the man had said was the truth. Mohamed never spoke of these things; at least, Kofta had never heard the stories. To accept this teaching was not to be entered into lightly, however. He would need to think about it.
When the day of Kofta’s salvation came, he rejoiced to have entered into the new covenant by re-birth. His plan was to keep it quiet and not speak of these things at school or with his teammates. Religion should be a private matter for each man to decide on his own. Or, so Kofta reasoned until he heard another message from the missionary, speaking at a conference held at the church.
“Once you know the truth, you can’t just hide it under a basket and keep it to yourself, can you? Others need to have the same opportunity you’ve had to make their own choice. Then once they make the same choice you’ve made, they will need someone to teach them how to live the truth written here in God’s Word.” The white man was holding up a book he referred to often as he spoke. Kofta was way ahead of him, leaving the building as soon as he realized the missionary was going to ask them to consider becoming pastors. No way was he going to sign on to that.
“God, you understand, right? I can’t be a pastor; it’s too much to ask.” The distressed young teacher wanted to learn more, of course, but to become a pastor? The cost was too great. “If I became a pastor, I would never be granted permission to marry any woman, if I found one I wanted. Even if it is discovered I converted to Christianity, I will lose my job as a teacher. How would I support myself? And, God, what about the team; they’re counting on me? Even now, my family will disown me if they find out what I’ve done. I’ll bring great shame to them if I become a pastor, don’t you see that?” The matter was settled as far as Kofta was concerned, but not for his Lord.
Everyone who watched Kofta on the field knew of his great skill and strength; he was one of the most famous players they had trained. However, God hadn’t created the talented African man to live his entire life as a soccer star. That season of Kofta’s life had come to an end. Now, God wanted Him to throw his energies into training just as hard for the ministry.
Today, if Pastor Kofta were asked, “Do you miss the fame and fortune soccer once afforded you?” His face would, probably, light up with that enormous smile and, with a shrug of his massive shoulders, he would give a hearty laugh before responding.
“Never! Compared to life with Jesus, what’s to miss?”
Author’s Note: This is my dear friend’s true story. Pastor Kofta lives with his wife of more than 20 years and continues to pastor a church in West Africa, burning with the heart of an evangelist. The couple has one son and has raised a number of children given to them by their relatives, according to the African custom.
The opinions expressed by authors may not necessarily reflect the opinion of FaithWriters.com.
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