I have no answers today, and I’m not even going to make any statements. Well, then again, I may make one or two, but for the most part, I only want to ask questions. What is it that you stand for? That’s my question. We see advertisements, political campaigns, religious groups, humanitarian organizations, and many others that stand for a certain cause. And this is a really good question. What do you stand for? Everyone stands for something, whether we want to or not. We must know what we stand for. One organization that I used to be a part of, Invisible Children, stands for the freedom of children in Central Africa. They want to see that children in this area will no longer be taken as child soldiers for the LRA and will be able to live in peace. They know what they stand for, and they work really hard to promote their position. They have worked so hard that their cause came to the attention of President Obama. They know what they stand for, and like Invisible Children, we too must know what we stand for. In life, there will come a time when we are questioned. We will be interrogated, and must be prepared to answer questions. These questions we are asked will be based on what we stand for. And if we are confused as to where we stand, we will not be ready to answer. Know what you stand for, and when you know what you stand for, stand up for it. Do not be silent.
First of all, before I start my story, I want to give you some background knowledge. The name Djonke is pronounced with a silent D, and that his name in its native language means slave. This story takes place in Bamako, Mali. Mali is situated in West Africa, above Ivory Coast and to the south of Morocco. This took place in French, and the year is 1998. This is a true story.
The Story of Djonke
Hello, my name is Djonke, I am twelve years old, and I live in Bamako. I don’t live with my parents, because they are right now in the country of Zambia. My father is a diamond miner, and my mother stays with him. They never had enough money to take care of me, so right now, I live with my uncle here in Bamako. About a year ago, an American family moved into the house beside me. They have a son, named Zachary, and I have become really good friends with him. We do almost everything together, we fish, and even hunt lizards together with our homemade slingshots. In the street, we play soccer with all the other kids from the area; dodging the traffic and the sewer since it runs right through the middle of the road. I started talking to Zachary and his parents about their belief, and why anyone living in the United States would ever want to come to Africa. They told me that they were Christians and believed that their mission in life was to bring people to know Jesus Christ personally.
I got interested in what they were teaching. Every week, besides playing with Zachary, I would come over and listen to them teach about the Bible. This Jesus character was very interesting, and if what they taught was true, I wanted to be a part of it. Over the next few months, I learned more and more. They gave me my own bible in French, and I took it to my house and hid it underneath my mattress. I had to hide it because my whole family is Islamic and if they found out I was interested in Christianity, I could be in danger. Because I share my bed with a few of my cousins, my bible was found, and my uncle interrogated me over it, and beat me because of it. I went to Zachary’s family in tears. I decided to leave my Bible at his house and come study it when I got out of school before going over to my house. I learned more and more, and I believed that Jesus Christ was in fact the savior and that God had sent him to save the world of their sins.
I was a believer, and now, I too was a Christian.
It was around March now, and my uncle realized that I had drifted away from the Muslim faith and had become a Christian. He was furious and treated me as an outcast. Being beat by him was normal, and my cousins treated me like a disease.
A few days before Easter, my uncle came to me with a VHS tape, and three nails. He said that on Easter, the whole family was going to ridicule me for what I believed in. He said they were all going to beat me, and they would watch the VHs tape he had which was the Jesus film. They would mock Jesus, and then as the crucifixion came, they would nail those three nails through my hands and feet mocking my faith.
I went over to Zachary’s house and talked to his parents, I was crying, and they shared in my sympathy. I decided that I truly believed that God had sent his son Jesus, and that my faith in Christ was true. If this was going to happen to me because of my faith, so be it. I prayed that God would save me from this torture.
Easter day arrived, and I was afraid for my life. I did not run, but I prayed that I would be saved. All day I waited, and my uncle was no where to be seen.
It turns out that my uncle had had car trouble the day before Easter. He never made it home that night. During Easter day, he spent the whole day trying to get the car fixed in town and never even returned to the house. When he did return, he had lost all memory of what he had planned to do to me. No one in my family mentioned it, and somehow, he never brought it up again.
I returned to Zachary’s family in tears, this time tears of joy. God had saved me from a man who hated me and truly wanted me dead. I continued to be good friends with Zachary and his family, and got connected with other believers in the area.
Zachary’s family had to leave in 2000, they had been re-assigned to another part of the world and had to go. I continued to grow in my faith, and being able to fellowship with other believers in the area really helped me.
Now, in 2012, I have been reunited with my birth mother, and she lives with me now. I came to find out I had younger siblings, and now, my mother and younger siblings have become Christians. Jesus christ is real, and has changed my very existence.