Reaching the Shibushi

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Christoff & Sarah Power have been serving among the Shibushi since 2010. Here they share more about Shibushi culture and how people are coming to know about Jesus.

As missionaries, we sometimes think of the older generation as the hardest to reach, realising that they can be set in their ways and resistant to change. However, we’ve recently been blessed to see God working in the lives of two older people that we know. No doubt, there has been a spiritual battle raging in their lives but through perseverance, much prayer and ultimately God’s sovereign hand, the seeds of the truth have started to grow and bear fruit in their lives.

At the wedding feast

Perhaps one of the best insights into the culture of a people group is through its weddings?

Weddings among the Shibushi are usually spread out over several weekends, and sometimes even years. The religious part (blessing and prayers) happens first, and then the couple normally start living together. Once the families can afford it, they then put on a prestigious wedding reception called a Mandzaraka, sometimes spending over 20,000 Euros. Other events are sometimes added on too, like dances, and even a French style evening soireé. Each wedding seems to try to outdo the previous one. Mountains of fizzy drinks, piles of coconut rice and chicken wings, flaunting 100 Euro notes, bigger marquees and even dancing to Western pop music.

Last August the first Christian Shibushi wedding took place in Mayotte, and it was in our village. There were four parts to the wedding over one weekend. Culturally it looked like all other weddings, and yet it was different – why? Because they went through the rituals as followers of Christ and Christian vows, prayers and worship demonstrated and declared their faith, and their love for Jesus.

When I’m sat with the women at Mandzarakas, squashed together, toe to toe, I can’t help hoping that some of these Shibushi women will one day be sitting at the great banquet, the wedding supper of the Lamb. Not trying to impress each other, or proving their wealth, but simply worshipping the true Bridegroom.

The only way

Baba S has been my go-to person for language learning and more recently he has been helping us translate Bible stories – he loves to record and memorise them. He is so excited once we’ve finished
that he asks if we can share them with his wife and other people too. He says he believes that Jesus is the only way, but that he has not yet decided to follow him.

Mama Bey is elderly, and her health problems mean she doesn’t get out much. In the past she was involved in the occult and lived in a spiritually dark village. However, she used to live with our previous team leaders who shared many Bible stories with her. Sarah picked up the baton  a year ago (after just intermittent visiting before), as she felt nudged by the Spirit to visit her and see if there were any signs of spiritual life. They re-started the storying. Mama Bey soon claimed that she has believed in Jesus for a long time, since she heard the first stories! She always asks us for more stories and for prayers for her health. 

Reading the Word

On Friday afternoons we gather together with these two, along with a newlywed Christian couple. It has been a joy to watch them interact around the Word together as we go through the signs and Jesus’ ‘I am’ statements found in John’s Gospel. We’re thrilled to see how God will continue to work in their lives as they fellowship around his Word and recognise the true identity of Jesus.

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