DURBAN, South Africa (IMB) - In a pitch-black room, David and Julie Yngsdal sat down to study the Bible with David and Zawadi, a refugee couple. The Yngsdals serve with the IMB among refugee communities in Durban, South Africa.
“I know many, many [refugees] who want to become Christians, but they are too afraid,” Zawadi told the Yngsdals. Fear was not the motivator for the couples’ studying the Bible in the dark. South Africa has an ongoing electricity generation crisis that causes daily planned power cuts.
“This temporary darkness wasn’t going to stop us, as Zawadi, who was recently living in the spiritual darkness of Islam, has chosen for herself to seek the light of love, forgiveness and eternal hope,” David and Julie shared in a newsletter. Zawadi’s decision to follow Christ brought great joy to her husband, who had prayed for his wife’s salvation for 10 years. “Their entire miraculous story is one of God’s evident hand at work,” the Yngsdals said. “We praise the Lord because Zawadi is no longer afraid of the ‘dark.’”
David, the refugee, attends a refugee church in the city. But, as the Yngsdals studied the Bible with him, they discovered that he did not understand what it meant to repent and believe. They described David and Zawadi as eager for answers to their spiritual questions. David and Zawadi’s church, like many in Durban, does not teach basic discipleship. “Most churches are simply interested in ‘kicking out’ a good and entertaining weekly worship experience, yet their people leave each week spiritually starved, and therefore, without the supernatural strength vital to live a changed life and be a witnessing light to their communities,” the Yngsdals said.
The Yngsdals said hearing Zawadi say many people were interested in becoming Christians confirmed that God is working in mighty ways among the Muslim refugee community in Durban. Before COVID-19 lockdowns, the Yngsdals discipled three refugees in the community. Since the lockdown, two widows asked David and Julie for Bibles and have started reading them to their children.
“The Qur’an actually teaches the Muslim people that they should read the Injil [the Gospels of Jesus] for ‘therein you find life.’ But the Qur’an also teaches them that Allah is pleased if one is killed who converts from Islam to Christianity,” the Yngsdals wrote in their newsletters. They asked prayer for the people they are reaching. They also asked Southern Baptist to pray for Zawadi and David. The two both need work to support their family. Also, pray for Zawadi as she prepares for baptism. Pray for protection against persecution.