Mali Memories, Part 4: Dreesa’s Story: ‘I Want to Work for God’

Posted on May 10, 2021

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By David Ettinger

Note: Back in October of 2007, First Baptist Church of Orlando – for whom I worked as a writer – sent a team to Mali to share the Gospel in this West African nation. I had the privilege of being a part of that team. I am sharing 7 of the stories I wrote about that missionary outreach.

No More Tradition
Talk about tradition!

That’s what life was all about for Dreesa before he gave his life to Christ. “There were always traditional things in my life,” he said through an interpreter. “Even if you didn’t believe in these things, you were obliged to practice them.”

But tradition no longer plays a role in Dreesa’s life since becoming a Christian five years ago. The native of Mali is one of only five believers in B-Village (where our team was located), which has a population of about 450 people.

The fact that Dreesa is a believer – and an impressively strong one at that – is a miracle in itself.

“My entire family is Muslim,” he said. “But that is only in name and tradition. They don’t practice the Muslim faith. Most people here are Muslim only because that’s what everyone else is.”

So, how did Dreesa tear himself away from his traditional Muslim upbringing?

“Before becoming a Christian, I had no intention at all of becoming one,” he explained. “I once heard a pastor share about Jesus and I turned away, because I didn’t want to hear about Jesus or even listen to what a Christian had to say.”

Dreesa is in the front row, second from the left, in the bright blue shirt.

That was the last time he would turn away from the Gospel message.

Tea and the Bible
“One day, I went to a village called [K-Village], and just about all the people there were Christians,” Dreesa said. “But I still didn’t want to hear about Jesus. However, the people from that village would sometimes come to B-Village and share about Jesus.”

On one particular visit, the chief of the village asked Dreesa to make tea for one of the men who was sharing Christ. It was not something Dreesa wanted to do, but no one disobeys the chief. So, Dreesa made the tea.

And good thing! “While I was serving him the tea, he gave me a Bible,” Dreesa said.

Not a welcomed gift at the time, but Dreesa’s curiosity won out and he began reading. His adversity to Christ was definitely beginning to break down. “One day, I read a passage that spoke to me, but I wasn’t sure what it meant. So I asked a missionary to explain it to me.”

The passage was from John 3 when Nicodemus came by night to meet with Jesus. “By the time the missionary finished explaining the passage to me, I was a Christian,” declared Dreesa, who was 22 at the time.

It was great news for him, but not nearly as great for the family.

“When my father saw me talking to the missionary, he was very angry,” Dreesa said. “He strongly urged me not to become a Christian. When I became a Christian, he didn’t treat me badly, but he told me that because I was a Christian, the community would refuse my body when I died.”

In other words, at his death, Dreesa would not receive a proper Muslim funeral – which is fine with him. What is of far more importance to him is his relationship with his father.

“We have a very good relationship,” Dreesa said, “and I am very happy about that.”

In the five years since his conversion, Dreesa has taken his faith very seriously and wishes to share it with the Bambara people. This month, he began going to Bible school.

“I want to work for God the rest of my life,” he said. “Before I became a Christian, I was in darkness. Now I am in light. I want to bring all my brothers from darkness to light.”