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Stories from the Trail

By Levi,* REACH North Africa team leader

Greetings in the name of the Father!

It has been some time since I’ve updated you. Over the past three weeks we went out into the mountains trekking from village to village; and therefore, I have been “out of the office” so to speak for the last few weeks. If there is one thing I can say that is consistent about the trail, it’s that no day will ever go according to plan.

However, I’m getting ahead of myself here! Let’s back up to the beginning. Why do we do this? We go trekking into the mountains to share the love of Christ with those in the villages. When I came to North Africa last year in REACH, our whole purpose was to go out and walk into the mountains and share the Good News. This year we’re focusing on going trekking and working with agricultural projects, but our reason for doing both is the same.

Trails I Once Did Know

(Walking in the Spirit)

Stepping off the bus I go,

Back to trails I once did know.

Down the valleys dark and deep,

Then up the mountains cold and steep,

Where the air is brisk and thin

Pushed along by flowing wind.

In empty plains laden with rocks

That bruise your feet and rip your socks

Where shepherds raise and graze their flocks

And seldom a foreigner ever walks.

These are the places we must go,

Sowing seeds that all may know!

Following stars throughout the night,

Dimly reflecting the heavens light.

Walk when dawn comes over land,

Over river, over sand.

Keep going! Just keep going!

Seek the Spirit ever knowing

Down to valleys dark he’ll lead,

Down to places where light is in need.

Out to the houses on the hills

With fires to warm your chills.

Where we’ll stay, never knowing!

Keep going! Just keep going!

Stepping of the bus I go,

Back to trails I once did know.

There is a passage that we keep in mind, coming from the words of the great Shepherd himself. “As you go, preach this message: The kingdom of heaven is near. Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse those who have leprosy, drive out demons. Freely you have received, freely give… Whatever town or village you enter, search for some worthy person there and stay at his house until you leave. As you enter the home, give it your greeting. If the home is deserving, let you peace rest on it; if it is not, let your peace return to you…” (Mt. 10). We go into the mountains to share the Good News, but we also go out to push back the darkness and proclaim the light.

One story from our trek is so encouraging and I am so excited to tell you about it! It happened on day 13 of the trek. By this point we had switched partners and I was now trekking with Asher. We were heading out into the mountains to see a friend I had spent time with last year. It wasn’t a bad hike, we only had to do somewhere around 9-10 kilometers that day. We walked seven of those kilometers along the road, and then turned off down one of the donkey trails that led up to one of the villages.

Unfortunately the local authority also saw us turn off, and he came up to us and asked us where we were going. He questioned us for a while, but eventually sent us on our way. I had no idea if my friend would be there or not and I had no way of reaching him, so we were simply going in hopes of him being there. Unfortunately he was not. However, from atop the hill I could see his father who was herding their cows.

When his father spotted me he drove his cows down the mountain then took off running. He ran all the way down the hill to me, crashing into me and giving me a huge hug! He kissed my cheeks and pulled me in for a long hug and wouldn’t let me go. I felt like a long lost son who had finally returned home! It was quite the welcome! My friend didn’t have much. He had no electricity, so we sat and talked by the fire’s light. After going through the basic greetings and talking about our families he asked me, “do you still have your Injeel?” (Injeel, pronounced in-geel, is the Arabic word for the Bible. Technically it only refers to the gospels, but most locals here refer to the entire Bible as the Injeel.) I very excitedly said yes and went and pulled it from my pack and handed it to him. Though it was in English he leafed through it and studied it carefully with much reverence. He brought in his youngest son, around the age of 14, and told him “this is the book of Jesus.” After looking through it for a while he carefully put it back on the table and asked me, “Would you like a candle so you can study again?” I was quite surprised actually. Out of all the things he remembered about me he remembered that last year when I was there, Danny and I had pulled out our Bibles to have our time of devotions and he had brought us a candle so we could see. He had asked us many questions and was very curious, and somehow that was a very vivid memory for him. I suppose we never know how the Father is going to speak to people!

Father, help me to be in tune with your Spirit. Continue to work in this country! May your name be sung from the mountain tops and declared on the shorelines. Thank you for allowing me to join you in your kingdom work today, Father. And thank you also for your patience with me. I love you, Amen.