This past March saw me in Nigeria, travelling to a few different communities (some too small to be called villages), meeting old friends and making some new ones. One of the new friends I met was a woman named Hurera, and as we travelled around she came with us a few places and we got to know each other a little bit.
Hurera spoke just a very little English, and I speak just a very little Fulfulde (the language of the Fulbe people), but we were still able to communicate through our friends who could speak both.
Hurera’s story was mostly a sad one, as for much of her life she lived with tragedy. One morning she gave her testimony during our time of worship, and though I could not understand then what she was saying I knew it was having a powerful effect on the people. Fulbe are quite stoic by nature, and do not show emotion easily or freely, so this morning, as Hurera spoke, I knew something very moving was happening as I could hear the women snuffle and pull their veils over their heads, and could see the men covering their faces with their hands. Afterwards, as I sat with Hurera and another friend she told me the whole story while he translated for me.
When she was very young Hurera’s parents both died, and she was given over to her grandparents. While she was in their care she was abused, and they eventually gave her away to be married at a very young age (think young teen-ager here). Her first husband also abused her, and eventually divorced her, taking her children with him. She was remarried, with a similar outcome.
The result of all this was a woman who felt she had no worth at all, who believed she was beyond the love of humans and God, and who had given up all hope for herself of ever having any kind of happiness in her life.
One of the practises of my Fulbe friends is to bring people into their fellowship by having them come and live with them in their community. They did this with Hurera. They made a place for her to live in their community, they visited her, showed her kindness, treated her as a woman of value and worth, and with both word and deed taught her about Jesus and his love for her.
The deep emotional impact of her story came as she shared how profound her despair over her life was compared with the love and joy she has now found in Jesus Christ. This woman is simply brimming with the love of God, and she shared with great passion how the people ought to be sharing Jesus everywhere they go with everyone they meet – because only he has the power and the love to change them no matter how far gone they think they might be in sin and darkness.
Hurera’s story touched me as well. Among other things, it is a vivid reminder for me of the wonderful life-changing love that God has for each one of us, and of the need for people here in North America to hear that very same message.
P.S. I do have a picture of Hurera with me, which I would share with you if we were sitting and sharing a coke together, but I am leery of putting photographs of my Fulbe friends on the website since it is not always safe for them in their environment. Thanks for understanding.