Mali Memories, Part 7: Passing the Baton

Posted on May 13, 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.

Unexpected Moment
The next-to-last day of the Mali mission trip proved to be the most exciting – and it was totally unexpected.

Jim Nassar, who headed up the six-member First Orlando outreach team, recounts what happened on this very special Thursday afternoon.

Just 2 of the B-Village children which gave me so much joy!

“We had just finished lunch. After lunch, the people of B-Village usually take a siesta, so things were pretty quiet. We [the Americans] were sitting around and chatting, just taking it easy.”

Then came the out-of-the-blue event.

“A gentleman from the village who we hadn’t seen before came up to us and started chatting through the interpreter. I asked him, ‘Can we help you?’ He answered, ‘I came to learn about the Bible.’”

Talk about a knockout moment!

Me and young Adama. He was my favorite!

“I said, ‘That’s great; that’s why we’re here.’”

Now is the proverbial part where the team got to kill two birds with one stone.

“I called one of our team members, David Adams, over to share the Gospel with this man. Just the day before he had been teaching the ‘Creation to Christ’ lesson, so I figured he could do it again.”

But just as David was getting ready to begin, Jim noticed that one of the believers, Dreesa, had been sitting close by. Dreesa is one of the people the team had trained to disciple B-Village after the First Orlando contingent had left.

“I said, ‘Hold on, David.’ I then said to Dreesa, ‘Why don’t you share “Creation to Christ” with this gentleman’.”

Passing the Baton
And that’s exactly what Dreesa did. He shared with the man in their native Bambaran language. An interpreter was used to keep the First Orlando team up to snuff on what Dreesa was saying. He was dead-on correct.

“When Dreesa finished, I asked the man if he was ready to ‘walk the Jesus road’ [another way of asking someone if he was ready to accept Christ], but he said ‘no.’ He felt he needed to know more, which is a typical response.”

Jim then went through the plan of salvation again, using a stone to draw a diagram in the dirt.

Me hanging out with the kids, though I have no idea what I was doing!

“I did not want to take pen and paper, which they do not have access to. I used the resources they already have.”

Following the diagram, Jim asked again if the man was ready to follow the Jesus road, and this time he said “yes!” It was a thrilling moment for two reasons.

“First of all,” Jim said, “any time a person accepts Christ, it is a thrill. But also, we had the opportunity to witness a local person, Dreesa, sharing the Gospel himself with one of his own people.

“We realized then we had turned the corner, or, to put it another way, had passed the baton. This is what we had come to accomplish and we saw it happen for the first time. It was a huge thrill.”