Robbed and Deceived, One Pastor Found Healing in God’s Word

In Mali, a pastor clung to the Bible amidst devastating circumstances

When two homeless men stumbled into his church in Mali—a large desert country in West Africa—Pastor Sylvain immediately came to their aid. He listened as they spoke of their recent escape from Liberia, where violence and unrest had driven them from the country. He listened as they shared a plan for finding long-term work in Mali. And he listened as they pleaded for food, water and shelter.

After hearing these stories, Sylvain responded with a generous gift: he loaned the men two million Central African francs, enough money to rent two bedrooms and eat food for five months. They gratefully accepted—and moved into Sylvain’s community with nothing more than the packs on their backs.

But one day, when Sylvain went to check in with these men, he made a devastating discovery. They had taken their belongings, and the money loaned to them, and escaped unnoticed.

As Sylvain’s family scrambled to make ends meet...Sylvain began to doubt God.

Because Sylvain was counting on these men to repay their debt, he did not have the funds to cover the loan. He quickly fell into financial hardship. As Sylvain’s family scrambled to make ends meet, the owner of the loan became hostile, relentlessly demanding the two million francs owed to him. Sylvain began to doubt God.

“No one understood why my goodness had been repaid by such ill,” Sylvain says. “And I couldn’t understand why God had let this happen.”

"I couldn’t understand why God had let this happen."

After praying and seeking counsel from his closest friends, Sylvain attended a Bible-based trauma healing workshop—a program developed by American Bible Society—for survivors of disaster and abuse. With the support of American Bible Society’s generous financial partners, trauma healing workshops like this one have spread throughout West Africa.

"The Lord is with us when we suffer...because he is merciful and gracious toward us, even when we doubt."

For Sylvain, the workshop made an eternal impact. While studying the Bible, he renewed his faith in Jesus. He forgave the men who took advantage of his generosity. And he released his suffering to Christ. Though he may never understand why these men deceived him, and though he still needs to repay his debt, Sylvain has found healing in the Words of Scripture.

“The Lord is with us when we suffer,” Sylvain concludes, “because he is merciful and gracious toward us, even when we doubt.” 

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