When I was in Buffalo, New York, the pastor I was staying with was a real go-getter, fun to be around, and a bit of a mischievous guy to boot. He took me to play basketball (gasping away the heart attack after the first game, but getting my wind by the time the third came along), and then out to supper with the family – a truly delightful bunch.
As we were driving to his home he told me he had a special surprise in store for me. When we got there I discovered, to my great pleasure, that his family had adopted a 20 year old Nigerian from Abuja for a few months, and we got to spend a good amount of time together.
My new friend was proud and enthusiastic to be from Africa, and Nigeria in particular. He said when people asked him where he was from (his accent made it clear he was not American), he would pull his shirt over his shoulders to show a tattoo on his back with the outline of Africa on the left side, and that of Nigeria on the right.
What truly surprised me about this young man, however, was his shock at hearing that I knew of, worked with, and was friends with, members of the Fulani tribe (that is the normal, anglicized, version of the name the Fulbe go by in Nigeria). “You can’t be working with them!” he exclaimed. “That is impossible – no one works with the Fulani!”
He was truly incredulous. He had never heard of Fulbe being Christians, never heard of anyone getting to know any Fulanis or being able to work with them. All he had heard, apparently, were the stories of their tendencies toward violence, their intractability, and imperviousness to the good news of Jesus Christ.
I was able to share with him some of my own experiences. The Fulbe that I know are both Christian and Muslim, but most of them are hospitable, kind, generous, and good-humoured. I love them and enjoy them. They may be an unreached people group (according to the Joshua Project website), but, by the grace of God, they are not unreachable.