I am about to take you through my life story on how I encountered our Lord Jesus Christ. My name before I met Christ was Ebrima Jaiteh; after I met Christ He changed my name to Ebrima John Jaiteh, as He changed the name of Jacob to Israel (Genesis 32:28). I was born and brought up as a Muslim. My father was an Islamic scholar who traveled from the West African nation, The Gambia, to different parts of the world to preach and convert many to Islam in the 1980’s. In 1984 he met my mother in Ghana and he was able to convert her and most of her family members. They got married and God blessed them with four boys. I have three siblings—two elder brothers, and a younger brother. I was born on April 4th 1993 in Ghana. In the year 2000 my father decided to come back to The Gambia, his homeland, for a visit. We accompanied him. After three months he died, but before he gave up the ghost, he held my hands together with my mother and said “among my four sons, Ebrima you are the chosen one to continue from where I have stopped.” I was only 7 years old. I knew nothing about what he was saying. At that time we remained in The Gambia. After a few months, I was taken to a place called Kiyang where I was going to learn the Quran. Five years had passed and I was still learning the Quran and its secrets. In 2005, my mother deemed it necessary for me to learn the English language since it is the official language in my country, The Gambia. So I was sent to a school where I could learn the English language.
In the year 2009, on one Sunday morning around 9 am as I was in my room sleeping, I heard a distorted noise from the Pentecostal church around my area. They were making so much noise that one could not detect the kinds of instruments they were playing. Because of that horrible noise I was unable to sleep, so I got up from the bed furiously. I came out and saw some little boys playing outside my compound gate. I ask them to bring me some stones from the wayside. They did exactly as I told them to do, and I then asked them to join me in throwing stones at the church so they would stop playing and making noise in the area. Before then, the complaint had gone around the area that the church normally disturbs the neighbourhood on Sundays. All the Muslims in the area were waiting for an opportunity to present itself—somebody bold enough to start a fight with the church. I became that person; so when I starting throwing stones, I threw them with confidence, knowing that my Muslim brothers would support me in case the Christians wanted to fight back. I also had this confidence that I was doing the will of Allah. The Quran says, if anyone disbelieves in Muhammad the prophet of Allah they are an infidel. To me, I was doing the service of Allah with not one iota of doubt.
We kept on throwing the stones until some of their expensive window panes were broken. Some of the church members and youth in the church came out. I stood my ground, waiting for the worst to happen. As they drew near, the pastor of the church came out (pastor Steven), and said to the church members with a loud and a compassionate voice, “do not touch that boy, leave him alone, you do not know the amount of grace he is carrying, he is a donkey for our Lord!” The pastor then ushered the members back into the church. I became spooked, speechless, and felt guilty of myself. I expected a fight but instead I got forgiveness and mercy.
However, that evening, as I was seated in my house, taking respite for the day, suddenly I saw Pastor Steven walking majestically towards me with his Bible in his hands. I began to wonder what he wanted from me. At first I thought perhaps he was coming to warn me not to repeat what I had done that morning, but instead, he open his Bible to John 3:16 and started reading, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten son. . .” Before he could complete the verse I became angry and felt insulted by his words, so I punched him in the face, saying to myself, how could he insult my God? I quoted to him from the Quran chapter 17 surat I-isra (the night journey) saying “praise to Allah, who has not begotten a son and has no partner in dominion and has no protector out of weakness; and glorify Him with glorification.” When I finished reciting, I sent him out of my house, and he left in pain, but without saying a word.
After one week, Pastor Steven came back to me with the same message. I had just come in from playing football when I saw him entering my compound with his Bible again. I was standing at my door with a glass of water. He greeted me with a cheerful smile, and I asked him what he wanted. He opened his Bible again to John 3:16 reading, “For God so loved the world. . .” This time, I poured the glass of water on him and sent him out again. I warned him never to come back, otherwise I would kill him and go to heaven straight. I had a belief from my Quranic School that if I kill a non-believer, I am guaranteed heaven. It is like a free ticket to heaven.
Exactly five days later the pastor came back to my house again with the same old story. This time I was fed up, tired of him coming and going. So I decided to now listen to him so he would leave me in peace. I gave him a seat, and allowed him to say whatever he wanted to say. After reading John 3:16 and sharing a few words that I could not even remember, because all I wanted was for him to just do his business quickly and leave my house before my family met him. When he finished his sermon for that day, I requested a copy of a Bible. The reason I wanted that copy was not for me to become a Christian. I already had my plans and motives in place, which was to collect the Bible, read it, and use it to convert Christians into Islam as my father did before he passed away. The pastor humbly gave me his own Bible with joy and a smile on his face.
After several weeks, I was still reading the Bible and trying to compare it with some of the verses in the Quran. God started to speak to my heart gradually and my heart was getting soft; I began to see God differently.
One fateful night, it was on the 31st August 2009, it had been raining and the rain had stopped around midnight, 12 a.m. While I was sleeping in my room, the whole place was very quiet and I began to dream. In the dream I saw myself with a large crowd of people, mostly my Muslim brethren. It was time to pray and the crowd needed a leader to lead the prayer (imam). When I looked I saw everyone pointing at me to lead them in prayers, so I had no choice but to lead them. I performed ablution and stood in front of the large crowd. We all faced the east where the sun rises, and everyone was waiting for me to say ”allah hu akbra” that is to open the prayers. I could not say it. I was in front, struggling to say the word, but I became speechless. Then I looked up to the sun for God to help me say something. Suddenly, I saw a dove coming out of the sun; as the dove was getting closer it became the likeness of a man. I was still in front, struggling to say the word. Then, a word came to my mouth and I shouted “Jesus Christ”. I woke up from the dream and I could hear the room echo my voice. I became afraid and started to feel cold. I took the Bible the pastor gave me back to him, thinking that, because I have the property of a Christian that is why I am having such dreams. Perhaps they must have enchanted the Bible. When I reached his house I knocked at the pastor’s door and he opened it. I gave back the Bible to him, and said to him, your plans have failed; you think I can be fooled? Take your stupid Bible and your fake dreams. I walked out, leaving the pastor standing there standing speechless. He did not even know what I was saying for he was still sleepy.
In the afternoon, the pastor sent one of his church members to call me to his house saying that he wanted to speak with me. I went with him to see the pastor, still angry, thinking that he made me dream such a dream. When I got to his house, he welcomed me inside his prayer room, and asked me to explain what had happened to me the previous night. I explained exactly what happened. The pastor went down on his knees and worshiped God, saying in his prayer that his assignment in The Gambia had finished. He prayed for me too. From that point, I knew within myself that the pastor had nothing to do with my dreams, so who then must have made me dream such a dream? The only answer that came to my mind is God. But I needed to be sure. So I challenged God that afternoon while walking to my house saying, “Oh God, if it’s You who had made me dream the dream I had last night, repeat it to me again!” I keep on saying that repeatedly until I got to my house. I sat in the parlor watching TV and within five minutes I
starting sleeping again. And the dream came back to me exactly as I dreamt the previous night! It was like copy and paste. Nothing changed. From that point I knew God needed me to do something for Him. I starting going to church time to time, dodging, so that my people would not notice.
Two weeks after my encounter with the Lord, my pastor friend Steven was transferred back to Nigeria, for he was a missionary sent from Nigeria. This was a big challenge for me since I was new to the faith and it was only that pastor who knew my condition at that time. I started praying to God for direction. He later gave me an idea; I used to know a Christian family who lived very far from my town, in one village called Brikama-ba in region 5. It is about nine hours drive from my place. I was still going to school, so in order for me to serve God I needed to leave my home, otherwise they would find out that I have become a Christian. It was going to be a problem for me, and I was only 16 years old. So I had to come up with something. After days praying, I went to my mother (after I had already spoken to the Christian family in Region 5) that I would love to complete my schooling in the village school. The man of the house welcomed the idea, so I spoke to my mother about it. When I told her, she did not even ask many questions. She only asked me when I was planning to start school over there. I told her, next week. She then quickly made the arrangements and I was set for my journey after the week.
On arrival, I told the man of the family what the Lord had showed me in a dream. He advised me not to tell anyone in the village that I was once a Muslim, because the Muslims are very aggressive towards issues like this. The Islamic law says that if a Muslim brother disbelieves the prophet Muhammad such a person should be killed. I knew that already so I was very careful.
On my first Sunday with the family, I saw everyone in the family dressed up to go to church, so I dressed up too and followed them. When we got to the church, I was not comfortable, for they were Catholics; I only knew of the Pentecostal faith, not Catholic. When I went home I told God that I did not want to go back to that church again. I did not understand anything they were doing. Nothing was actually familiar from where I was from. God spoke to my heart again, saying, worship me on Saturday instead. Ahh! I had not seen any Christian who worships on Saturday, why only me? However, I obeyed for some weeks.
One Friday, as I was in class, I heard a loud noise outside. All the students ran to see what it was. With my Bible in my hands, I also followed the crowd to see what was happening. When I got to the scene, I saw a young girl lying down, being so tormented by an evil spirit that she cried like a man. I remembered my Bible verse Matthew 8:16—“When the even was come, they brought unto Him many that were possessed with devils: and He cast out the spirits with His word, and healed all that were sick”— and so many other scriptures in the Bible. While the teachers were trying to make everyone go back to their respective classes, I found my way to the girl that was possessed; I laid my hands on her and said, “In the mighty name of Jesus Christ! Leave her body now! He who has defeated you two thousand years ago, will defeat you again, leave now in Jesus’ name!” She became free. The whole place became quiet and people were looking at me as if I was a superhero from the city, come to the village. I looked at the crowd and said it was not me, it is the power of Jesus, believe Him and you can do greater things than this! I was taken to the principal’s office for an interview and the questions they asked me were:
Who are you?
Where are you from?
How could you do such a thing?
All I answered was, it was not me, it is Jesus Christ. Among them was a teacher who was a Christian; he later asked me what church I worship at. I told him, God asked me to worship Him at home on Saturdays since the only church here is Catholic. He then invited me to his church called the Deeper Life Bible Church. It was Pentecostal. I started fellowshipping with them, going to the nearest villages and towns to share the word of God with them. The pastor (Chidy was also a Nigerian) could not speak the local language, therefore, he needed an indigenous person who could translate for him into the local language. I made myself available. People started talking about me in the village; I was only 16 years old at the time. God inspired me to start a school fellowship for some of the students that were interested. Every Friday in the afternoon we gathered to pray and share the word. People started calling me Pastor J.J. because I was always with my Bible, preaching the word.
After a few months, I started having problems with the man I was staying with. What was the problem? He said, “instead of you preaching and bringing people to the Catholic Church, you are taking them to the Pentecostal Church.” Because of this, he starting giving me problems here and there. The devil made the man hate me so much so that he decided to report me to my family in the city. He called my mother, and told her everything. My mother and the rest of the family members became very angry, and demanded for my immediate presence for a family meeting in the city. I told them I was doing my exams, and they should allow me to finish up with my exams and I would come during my holidays.
When I finally went to the city for my holidays to my family, after about a week, most of my relatives in The Gambia came to my house as if it were a funeral. I did not understand what was going on; my father’s friends were present also. So, a family meeting was scheduled and I was called upon; I came and listened, and behold , the meeting was all about me.
Everyone in the room expressed their total disappointment in my recent-found faith. I was advised to stop talking about Jesus and return to my father’s faith. After everyone spoke, it was my turn to speak. I told them, “Nobody can separate me from the love of Jesus Christ, not friends, not mother, not father, not brother, nobody at all!” While I was still speaking my elder brother slapped me on my face. I fell down onto the floor, saying “Father forgive him.” Straightaway I remembered what I had done to Pastor Steven. In my culture, when an elderly person insults or beats a younger one, you do not have to pay him back. And the Bible also teaches that when a man slaps you on your cheek turn the other cheek. After that slap he was asked to leave me alone until the next day. They said that I must be mad or have started taking some hard drugs. The next day, my family invited a Muslim scholar who knew both the Bible and the Quran to speak with me, hoping he could convince me to stop following Christ and come back to Islam. That talk failed. The third day and yet another meeting. This was the final meeting, and already God had spoken to me that, tonight things will be very ugly, but I should stay true and strong. I read Joshua 1:6–7.
After that meeting, my family sent me out of the house. They threw all my things outside and said that if I wanted to remain a believer, I could not stay with them. Nobody was going to feed me; nobody was going to clothe me. I took my bag and went into the world, without knowing where I was going to go!
Meanwhile, the pastor in region 5 had been waiting for me to return so that we could continue the work of the Lord there, since he could not speak the local language.
I called him that night and after I explained to him what had happened. He told me to find a place to spend the night until the next day. I had no place to go. Everyone I used to know had rejected me, and it was only me and Jesus! While walking in the cold dark night I came to a very big tree near a forest. I went under the tree and laid down to sleep. While slumbering, I felt something crawling on me. I could sense it, but I was too tired to find out what it was. When I woke up in the morning, I saw a very big snake lying beside me, all dried up! I started crying. After my family left me to spend the night on the street near a forest, God was there to protect me. God did that to prove to me that He was with me. Most people that passed me that morning thought I was a mad boy.
The church made arrangements for me. I was sent back to school. When I finished secondary school, the Government of my country sponsored me to study education at The Gambia College School of Education (H.T.C) Higher Teachers Certificate. I studied the English language and History, and upon finishing, I got my first two jobs as the Principal of Light House Primary and I also taught the English language and History at SOS Senior Secondary School.
God has been merciful and faithful to me. After revealing to me the Saturday worship in region 5, which I abandoned because of my lack of understanding as of then, He remembered me in 2015.
I was in my office one day when a fellow walked into my office. We greeted each other and he introduced himself as Christian Gadoxor. I was thinking, perhaps he has come to enroll his child at my school. After a while he told me his mission. He is a missionary sent to educate people about health issues as well as to preach the gospel truth. He was new in the country. I gave him all the support he needed at that time. I took him to the college and the University of The Gambia where we taught about healthful living and the need to become a vegetarian. We organized radio programs around the country. During this time, I was also learning from him, until I had a greater understanding of the message. After knowing the truth I quickly started worshiping with the church (SDA Reform) in The Gambia. I was baptized and confirmed. I am now the field secretary of the Gambian mission field.
This is where I also met my new mother in Christ, Wendy Eaton from Canada.
I hope this life story changes your life for the glory of God. Thank you!