The pastor talks in a steady stream, his tone neither rising nor falling. He is soft-spoken, and it’s hard to hear him out here in the morning air, so we lean in close. He does not sound emotional. He does not seem in distress. One would think otherwise, to hear his story.
He was a high official in his mosque, got saved anyway, stealthily began a local ministry. Some of the other officials from his mosque found one of his church members worshiping one day. They beat the man within an inch of his life and locked him up in a kitchen.
The officials called a meeting to discuss what was to be done. “If we kill the leader,” they decided, “this movement will stop.”
The pastor knew they were coming. But he didn’t leave. He waited for them. He waited for death, and when they came for him, he told them about Jesus.
There’s rumble to our right as an approaching plane drops sharply towards the tarmac, drowning out our conversation. In an hour, one of those planes will take us out of here, towards Bihar and the heart of our mission, but for now, time has stopped as the pastor tells his story.
The pastor and the mosque leaders spoke for seven hours, and when they finished, the leaders apologized. They agreed to release the man they had captured. They left, but not before one of the men had snuck back in to ask for a copy of the Gospel.
The officials will be returning to meet with him again at the end of the month. He hopes this time that they will come to salvation.
Another plane growls overhead. One of the small children the pastor’s brought with him twists in his seat, uncomfortable from sitting still so long. It reminds the pastor to tell us that all the orphans he’s taken in are living with his family, all together in one room. He asks us to pray for bunk beds.
Figures like this are supposed to be bold fire-breathers, hovering larger than life over us. They may wait without fear for death, but once they’ve conquered death, they’re not supposed to have to wait for bunk beds.
There’s a quiet bravery to a life like this that I’m not as familiar with as I think I should be.