Despite being threatened with death and disowned by family members, he was determined to share the Gospel with Fulani Muslims. And David Weeti’s determination hasn’t wavered.
The day after David Weeti’s cousin burned David’s Bible and kicked him out of the house, 20 young men surrounded the new believer, wrestled him to the ground and tied his hands and feet together with rope. When he had placed his faith in Christ three days earlier, he couldn’t have imagined that what he was about to endure would change so much for so many.
As a member of the West African Fulani people, it was expected that David was and would remain Muslim. He had moved in with his cousin in a large city in Bauchi state, Nigeria, intending to enrol in an Islamic school. However, his path was radically altered by a series of vivid dreams in which he saw heaven and encountered Jesus. Prompted by the dreams, he used the little money he had to purchase a Bible and learn more about Christianity. What he learned led him to abandon his traditional Fulani religion to follow Christ.
Not afraid of death
Moved by the realisation that he had received salvation, he declared himself ready to die for Jesus. He understood that his new faith would cause trouble among the 99% Muslim Fulani people, but he didn’t expect it to come so soon.
The young men who bound David hand and foot feared that he might lead others away from Islam. Therefore, they decided to eliminate the threat.
“I am not afraid to die right now,” David told them when he learned of their intentions. “I am afraid only that you can’t get a chance to get the salvation I have.”
A crowd gathered to watch as one of the men holding David began to cut the side of his head with a knife. Just then, a police van pulled up and everyone scattered, leaving David alone, bound and wounded.
“What is wrong?” the officer asked.
“I am a Christian,” David replied. “I just found out I am forgiven. I did not insult anybody, but they want to kill me.”
“I am happy you have found salvation,” the officer responded. “I am the only Christian police officer in this vehicle. Let me untie you, then find a way to leave this town.”
Since that moment, David has dedicated his life to spreading the Gospel among Fulani Muslims and serving his persecuted brothers and sisters.
Reaching a nomadic culture
David immediately began to use his Fulani background to witness to Muslims, leading many to Christ. As the first in his fellowship of Christian Fulani to experience persecution, he feels called to share the Gospel with his Muslim neighbours one at a time.
He has spent years translating Bibles into Fulfulde for the Fulani, and he regularly works to build relationships with his sometimes distrustful neighbours. The Fulani are semi-nomadic herdsmen and farmers who live in temporary settlements and are very protective of their cattle.
Although the Fulani are devout Muslims, they sometimes engage in fortune-telling and various animistic practices. They also brutally attack Christians for various reasons. Often, it’s because they perceive Christians as infidels, but sometimes it’s simply because they want the Christians’ land for their cattle. In addition, when a cow gets injured, they commonly blame someone outside their tribe.
More than a year ago, David partnered with VOM to help provide practical and spiritual assistance to new Fulani believers facing persecution. The Gospel has since spread quickly among the Fulani, due in part to his ministry activities. More than 800 people, including 400 from David’s clan, have accepted Christ, joining the very small minority of Fulani Christian converts in Nigeria.
A bold church
Once Fulani people come to know Christ, they’re often completely dedicated to living — and even dying — for Him. They understand and expect persecution. With David’s guidance, they learn how, as Christians, they should respond.
“They believe they have to face these things and believe they want to have a better home after they leave this body,” David said. “They’re always praising God in that and always trying to be happy. If you go to the fellowship, the main lesson they are teaching their children is, ‘You have to try always to love those who hate you.’ They want to live a life that those people can ask them questions; they want to live in a community where they can be close to those people.”
Standing with them
David is one of two VOM partners serving the Fulani people. Within his fellowship network, VOM has helped distribute everything from mobile phones and methods of transportation to clothing and blankets to fertiliser and cows. In addition, VOM will distribute more than 3,000 audio Bibles among the largely illiterate Fulani this year, with plans to distribute more in the coming years.
“The more they are getting persecuted, the more they are getting stronger,” David said. “In fact, when they saw the support they got from Voice of the Martyrs, it encouraged their faith more than anything knowing that other people are praying for them. They didn’t even know that. It really, really encouraged them.”