My heart hurts today. Living on the mission field I have had this fear of one day waking up to bad news from abroad. Today Josh saying, "I have really bad news." I asked from here or from the States. He said neither. From Nigeria. Josh's best friend from Nigeria, Kebiya, died.
Kebiya was our first friend in the hardest days of our lives as we began missions in remote Mahula, Nigeria. He was one of the first Christians among the Avadi people. Only a young man then he was presucuted by his family. He was the first evangelist, really missionary, of his tribe. Kebiya, his wife Cigoro and four children moved to the other side of the river to be our neighbor and partner with us in reaching his unreached tribe. I cannot say enough about his man's kind and gentle spirit. His face always beamed with a smile. He was so humble, a servant and faithful. Josh and him did everything together and they became like brothers. Kebiya helped us learn Tsuvadi (their unwritten language). We visited all our neighbors together. Josh and Kebiya taught literacy to the Fulani together. They began a church together. Kebiya was there at our lowest and highest moments. His love for the Lord and His people was real and touched my heart.
Leaving Mahula back in 2005 meant leaving Kebiya and Cigoro, our co-workers and friends. It was painful. Since then cell phones came to Mahula and Kebiya would often call over the years at Christmas time. It was so good to hear his voice and see the joy on Josh's face as he spoke to his friend. I was always amazed Josh could still remember the language! Kebiya moved on to live in and evangelize many other villages in his tribe. He was loved and respected.
Today we heard vague information from another former missionary in Nigeria that Kebiya died. Kebiya can't be more than 55 years old so we were very surprised. Josh tired all the contacts he had trying to get more information. What we learned is Kebiya had a liver problem, died yesterday and burial was today. Josh quickly said, "I want to go to Nigeria to be with them." (He says he isn't but that's how we feel.) Kebiya leaves behind his dear wife Cigoro and at least six children (many of them grown by now). Pray for them as life as a widow is very hard in Africa.
We also were told Christians are now suffering from persecution and attacks from Muslims. So hard to hear when you know those suffering. Please pray for them and all of Nigeria where Christians are being raided, kidnapped and killed.
So hard to grieve from far away. It just plain hurts. Josh lost a long time best friend and it's painful. We praise God we had the honor of serving with Kebiya. We rejoice that he is with the Lord who has welcomed him saying, "Well done good and faithful servant!" Kebiya is one of the every tribe and nation that now worships before the Jesus. Awesome...
Thanks for remembering Kebiya with me, praying for us, for his family, and the Christians in Nigeria.
|Kebiya on the far left next to Josh in the suitcoat.|
|Kebiya front and center next to little Lydia with the Church God built in Mahula, Nigeria.|