Political chaos was roiling the region, increasing the worries of family members. They also knew their loved ones in the desert were traveling through hostile areas without enough food and water for the journey. Arab tradition commands hospitality to strangers, but the nomads the team members were seeking weren’t Arabs.

“It was hard not knowing,” Luke says of the long silence. “One of the down sides of the trip was that most of those who went were the major leaders among the believers. While they were gone, their wives and families had some really tough times. That was the hardest thing for us, to go and minister to some of the wives and kids that were left behind, because the church had stretched so much to send them on the trip that they really didn’t have much left to help the families that were behind.”

But they made do, and God provided. The wife of one of the volunteers gave birth while he was gone. Relatives gathered around her until his return.

On the camel trek, meanwhile, the mission team encountered a rude welcome in some of the nomad camps. In one location, Shama had hardly begun teaching when he was accused by local Muslim teachers of being in league with those who defame the Prophet Muhammad. Shama insisted he was proclaiming Jesus only, but they beat him with metal rods and stabbed him in the leg. Fellow team members rescued him and sewed his knife wound closed with horse hair.

At another point on the journey, three of the believers were riding to a nomad camp when they were “drafted” by renegade troops, who forced them at gunpoint to don military uniforms. The troops killed their camel for food, but the believers escaped that night and made it back to their team’s camp.

They also found “persons of peace” along the way who helped and fed them. And in at least 10 nomad camps, they found people with open hearts and ears. They gave away all their Gospel cassettes and videos. In the days and months since their return, some of their nomadic listeners in the deep Sahara have believed in Jesus and been baptized.

“The trip was very difficult, as we expected it would be,” Luke says. “But they testify that God cared for them along the way and that their faith has grown.”

They even gave each other Bible names on the journey - names like Peter and Paul. And like Paul, they’re already planning their next missionary journey - just like in the Book of Acts.

* Name changed for security reasons.

Erich Bridges is a senior writer with the Southern Baptist International Mission Board.
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