August 3, 2021

Sabbath Safari

She slept on a tract for three years.

Meiring Pretorius

We were entering an open market where a young Muslim woman was selling her produce. While she was waiting for customers, her attention was absorbed by a familiar piece of literature from the Light Bearers Ministry. The pastors and elders with me approached her for a possible impromptu interview and video. Suddenly the atmosphere of the market changed. The woman was friendly, but the atmosphere around us was not. Noticing the seriousness of the moment, one of the pastors whispered, “We are putting this woman in a difficult situation.” Many of the other marketers were also Muslims. “Her family and community may shun her,” he added. We quietly left the market.

Reaching Muslims: Mary’s Story

This incident was a sharp reminder of the difficulty in reaching the Muslim community with the gospel. Even so, many in Tanzania are receiving Bible lessons from Light Bearers Ministry and are reading them privately. Silently God’s Spirit is touching many of the 17 million Muslims in Tanzania who are searching for the truth. 

I met another woman named Mary Paul Luziga. She was a Muslim, but had been born in a Christian home. From a young age she had been on a safari to know more about the Sabbath. Safari means “a journey with a purpose” in the Swahili language. Her purpose in this journey was to find the meaning of the Sabbath. Answers from her own Christian community were disappointing and inadequate. She felt unfulfilled in her worship. “Maybe I will find the Sabbath in Islam,” she hoped, turning to the Muslim faith for answers. She remained a Muslim for 18 years. 

If Jesus rose from the grave, why can’t I also be healed from my illness?

One day Mary fell ill and had to go to the hospital for treatment. Doctor Mbogo attended to her. After the treatment she jokingly remarked, “Any other things to be treated, Doctor?” In answer to her question, the doctor opened a drawer and handed her a Swahili Bible lesson entitled, “Search the Scriptures.” 

Mary asked herself, “Am I not a Muslim? What Scriptures do I need to search since my childhood Christianity could not give me the answers on the Sabbath? This is why I turned to Islam, which has not satisfied my desire for worship either.” 

She took the tract home but did not read it, because Islam says that Christians are blasphemers. But Islam also says that it is an abomination to destroy the Holy Word written on paper. This was contradictory to her. “Was this tract not speaking the Word of God?” she reasoned. She took the piece of literature, unstitched her pillow, pushed the tract inside, and stitched it closed again. For three years she slept on that same pillow. The message was preserved under her head. 

After three years she moved closer to the city. In the city someone handed her a tract with the same title: “Search the Scriptures.” The Holy Spirit was speaking to her heart. Mary went home, unstitched her pillow, and started reading the hidden lesson, continuing her safari for the Sabbath. She then attended a series of Seventh-day Adventist evangelistic meetings in the city. 

Mary Now

During a Q&A at the meetings, Mary’s first question was on the truth of the Sabbath. “Why don’t you Seventh-day Adventists worship on the first day of the week like others?” 

On her safari through these Bible lessons, she learned the amazing truth that Jesus conquered death. She started studying the resurrection. The resurrection made sense to her, more than anything she had heard before. 

If Jesus rose from the grave, why can’t I also be healed from my illness? she thought. Maybe if I am baptized I will be healed physically. She decided to be baptized. God gave her not only spiritual healing but also physical restoration. 

Now she tells Muslims that Jesus overcame death and that He is alive! He is interceding for us in the most holy place and preparing places for us in heaven. He is with everyone, speaking to their hearts, because He wants every human to be saved. On her safari in search of the Sabbath, she met the Lord of the Sabbath.

This story was first printed in the ASI magazine, Summer 2020.

Meiring Pretorius and his wife, Juanita, train medical missionaries together in a publishing and evangelism ministry called LIGHT. Meiring is Africa publishing correspondent for Light Bearers Ministry.