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In an undisclosed city in Central Africa, Islam has been the prevailing worldview for centuries. Bishara, a young rich kid with a promising future, finds himself risking everything to become a follower of Jesus.

This episode is originally from The Maverick Podcast.

Love Thy Neighborhood episode number 75 named A New Sound in Africa


#75: A New Sound in Africa

Note: The Love Thy Neighborhood podcast is made for the ear, and not the eye. We would encourage you to listen to the audio for the full emotional emphasis of this episode. The following transcription may contain errors. Please refer to the audio before quoting any content from this episode. 

AUDIO CLIPS: Love Thy Neighborhood… Discipleship and missions for modern times.

JESSE EUBANKS: You’re listening to the Love Thy Neighborhood podcast. I’m Jesse Eubanks. Today’s episode – “A New Sound in Africa.” Welcome to our corner of the urban universe.


ANNA TRAN: Okay, Jesse. So I was just reading this article, and it’s called, “Is Christianity Becoming A Dead Wire?” And in it, you know, the author was writing about how a philosopher described the possibility of religious beliefs as live or dead electrical wires. 

JESSE EUBANKS: So, like, if a wire is live, you touch it and there’s a lot of voltage running through it.

ANNA TRAN: Right, right. 

JESSE EUBANKS: Or it’s dead, do whatever you want, it doesn’t matter because nothing’s happening here. 

ANNA TRAN: Right. 

JESSE EUBANKS: And so the question is basically like – is Christianity, has it arrived to the point where like nothing’s going on anymore? 

ANNA TRAN: Yeah, yeah, yeah. That’s getting close to it. So in this article he describes a live wire as like a situation or hypothesis that has the possibility to actually be real to you, even if it’s like a small possibility. So, for example, like if I said the existence of an undiscovered species of fish – you think that’s possible?

JESSE EUBANKS: Uh, yeah. So would that be a live wire? 

ANNA TRAN: Yeah, that would be a live wire. 


ANNA TRAN: There’s a possibility. 


ANNA TRAN: So a dead wire is like a hypothesis that has no appeal to you as a possibility to be real. 

JESSE EUBANKS: Like vampires.

ANNA TRAN: Like vampires. 

JESSE EUBANKS: You leave like a one percent chance. You think –

ANNA TRAN: There’s always a chance.

JESSE EUBANKS: – maybe, maybe vampires exist.

ANNA TRAN: Yeah, always a chance. 

JESSE EUBANKS: So for you, live wire. For me, vampires was never a live wire. (laugh)

ANNA TRAN: Dead wire, for sure. (laugh) Okay, so this is how it connects to religious beliefs though. So here’s an example that the article gave. So if I were to ask you, Jesse, “Do you believe in Mahdi?” – Mahdi is like a Messianic figure in Islam. 


ANNA TRAN: So, no for you. There’s not much of a possibility of you believing in Mahdi because you don’t interact with the Muslim religion consistently. So for you that’s a dead wire. 

JESSE EUBANKS: Yeah, dead wire. 

ANNA TRAN: But if I ask like a local person in Pakistan or Indonesia, “Do you believe in Mahdi?” – what do you think? 

JESSE EUBANKS: Oh, it’d be a live wire I bet even if they weren’t of that religion. 

ANNA TRAN: Right. 

JESSE EUBANKS: There’s still a sense in which just what that person represents culturally –

ANNA TRAN: Mm-hmm. 

JESSE EUBANKS: – is still enough. 

ANNA TRAN: Mm-hmm. 

JESSE EUBANKS: – that it’d be a live wire for them. 

ANNA TRAN: Right. It’d be live. Like in Pakistan and Indonesia, Islam is like the predominant religion there.

JESSE EUBANKS: Yeah, that makes sense. 

ANNA TRAN: Yeah. So as I was reading this article, it reminded me of this story that I heard. It’s from a show called the Maverick Podcast, and the Maverick Podcast tells stories of spiritual seekers and they stumble into encounters with Jesus in places that that shouldn’t be happening. Season one of the podcast explores a story of a young man named Bishara, and for Bishara, who’s in southern Africa, Christianity was very much a dead wire. No one in his family was Christian. None of his friends were Christian. Christianity was not present in any corner of his life. So on today’s episode, we’re going to follow his story, a story about what happens when a dead wire somehow catches a little spark. 

JESSE EUBANKS: We’re actually gonna play the first two episodes of season one of the Maverick Podcast. Their host, Sarah Lewis, brings us this story.


SARAH LEWIS: This is a city in central Africa. It’s got the hustle and bustle of a large city, but many people that live here are from small villages and it really has this sort of small town feel to it. Everyone knows everyone. You can hear the sound of donkeys trotting through sandy dirt. People are setting up makeshift shops along the street, mostly just selling something they’ve laid out on blankets. Kids are running and laughing. The little girls work to keep their head coverings from blowing off in the wind. These are familiar sounds for this part of Africa. It’s been this way for generations. But recently there’s been a new sound echoing through the city, and what you think of this sound really depends on what side of a particular line you happen to be on. For some, it’s the sound of freedom and new life. For others, it’s a dangerous and unwelcome nuisance, a sort of threatening rumble sending shockwaves through what was normal. And no matter which side of the line you’re on, this is not a sound you can ignore because although it doesn’t seem like something that would upend lives, over the last few years it’s actually changed everything about life in this community. Let me just play you a clip of what I’m talking about.


SARAH LEWIS: This is the sound of worship. These are people gathered together singing praises to a Jesus they knew nothing about only months before. And for a man named Bishara, this sound carries a story. It’s the sound of miracles and murder, of loss and revenge and unprecedented hope. This sound represents a journey Bishara never intended to take, but one he would never take back.

BISHARA: If you would’ve told me two years ago that this is where I will be, I would’ve never believed you. And even when this all began, I didn’t know that people will die or that I will be in prison or that anyone will be healed. I never saw any of this coming. I never expected any of this.

SARAH LEWIS: So what happens when a Muslim leaves everything to follow Jesus? What does it end up costing him, and how far is someone else willing to go to stop him? And what does any of that have to do with us here on the other side of the world? This is Maverick, a podcast where we bring you true stories of people who dare to go against the grain. And over the next eight episodes, we’ll be telling the story of a man named Bishara and how God changed his life.

There are a few things you need to know about Bishara right off the bat. First, Bishara grew up in southern Africa, and that’s where his family is to this day. But about two years ago, he decided on a whim to go visit his mom’s relatives in central Africa. He’d never met them and figured he would just stay for maybe a month or so, but this is where things ended up getting crazy for Bishara and this is where our story takes place. 

DAN: He had made this decision in just a matter of two or three days. He said to his parents, “I’m going back to the country where you grew up, and I’m gonna meet our family.” 

SARAH LEWIS: That’s Dan. He’s been my point person on a lot of this. We’ll come back to him often because Dan lived in the middle of it as everything was unfolding. He was a missionary in Africa until just recently when he moved back to the States. 

DAN: It wasn’t this consultative process. He just said it and he did it and he was on a plane four days later in this country he had never been to and he didn’t even really know why he was there.

SARAH LEWIS: The second thing you need to know is that Bishara’s life didn’t fit the sort of stereotypical African poverty motif. He grew up in a wealthy family. And not just wealthy for Africa – we’re talking really wealthy. Like Bishara’s family owned multiple houses in multiple countries, and he not only lived comfortably but extravagantly. He used to go to the club and buy drinks for everyone there just to show off. He’d throw crazy parties and buy out concert venues and spend ridiculous amounts of money on things we don’t need to detail. All that to say, Bishara had whatever he wanted whenever he wanted, and along with being wealthy, his family was also important and very devoutly Muslim.

DAN: Bishara is from one of the largest tribes in the country. And then within that tribe, he’s from a really influential clan with a very important sultan. And then within that clan, he’s from a very prominent family. And within that whole tribe, Bishara’s dad is one of the most powerful and feared men. 

SARAH LEWIS: And the last thing you need to know before we jump in is that Bishara is a completely normal guy.

DAN: He loved the movie Black Panther. He wore skinny jeans and a t-shirt. He was a Real Madrid fan. One of his favorite meals was hamburger and fries. He was just an ordinary dude kind of floating through life. 

SARAH LEWIS: Okay, right now all that might seem like insignificant details, but just tuck them away for now. I promise they’ll matter later. In the last couple months of 2018, Bishara was staying at his uncle’s house. He had gotten a job he really liked working at an internet cafe. Around the same time, there was a guy named Luke who had come to the area as a short term missions worker. 

RYAN: So he was a friend of mine, uh, from the States.

SARAH LEWIS: That’s Ryan. He’s another person we’ll hear from throughout this story. He lived in Africa at the same time as Dan, and even though they were with different missions agencies, they ended up working together. Okay, so back to the story about Luke. 

RYAN: And he called me one time, and he said, “Hey, I’m coming – I’m, I’m, I’m coming to see you.” And I’m thinking, “What am I supposed to do?” You know, Luke’s coming, he doesn’t speak French, he doesn’t speak Arabic. Um, you know, he’d never been to this country before. He’d never traveled in central Africa. So he just came, he visited, and, and he was doing – I think it was three days a week he would meet and do a, just kind of a basic English course.

DAN: Well, all that Luke had done was do his English class, he shared his testimony – and I honestly don’t know if anyone understood it because he had to do it in English and somebody with shaky English skills translated for him – and then he handed out Bibles to everyone.

RYAN: And all of those New Testaments found their way to a trash can or a burn pile, or they were just left behind – all except for Bishara’s New Testament. 

SARAH LEWIS: And that may sound like a sort of nonchalant decision – you know, take the Bible out of politeness and be on your way, maybe bring it with you and throw it away later or something. But for Bishara to take the Bible home was actually a really big deal, and he knew the stakes. A few years earlier, while he was still in southern Africa with his parents, he had been given a copy of the New Testament and it didn’t end well.

BISHARA: I was on the terrace. My father was in his living room. I took the Bible and was reading it. My father saw I was reading in that book. He came out, made a problem for me. 

SARAH LEWIS: That’s Bishara. It’s not his actual voice. I should probably mention that in order to protect people we’ve changed the voices and names of pretty much everyone you’ll meet, but what Bishara just said is sort of par for the course with him. He sums up these really big and traumatic events with statements like, “Yeah, that was a problem for me.” So I had Dan explain the problem.

DAN: One day when his dad found him reading his Bible, he suddenly came out of the house with a knife, cut up Bishara. He, uh, wound up cutting an artery and putting him in the hospital for about nine days. And from that point there was something that happened in Bishara’s heart, and he, he kind of said to himself, “You know what? I’m not a Muslim. I don’t know what I am, but I don’t want either of those things.” 

SARAH LEWIS: So this time around when Bishara took the Bible home he immediately hid it in his room. His dad wasn’t even in the same country, but he really didn’t wanna take any chances that his uncle would find it. So it kind of just sat there for a while until one day when he decided to read it. 

BISHARA: I waited ’til it was late and no one in my family would see me, then I grabbed the Bible and started in Matthew chapter one. I told myself, “I’ll read a bit and then stop.” I got to a story and which was better than the one before, and then the next story was better, and the next. I stayed up most of the night reading.

SARAH LEWIS: And that sort of launched Bishara into this habit of secretly reading the Bible every night, and after about three weeks, he had read through the whole New Testament. 

BISHARA: One night I had fallen asleep when of a sudden I heard someone talking in my room. The voice said to me, “Bishara, it’s time. Get up, and believe in Jesus.” I stood up, but my whole body was shaking. My room was cold, but I was sweating. All around me, my room changed. It became beautiful and had the smell of perfume. I said, “I don’t know the Bible and don’t know Christian life,” but in my heart, uh, I believed in Jesus. The day after that, things began.

SARAH LEWIS: The day after that, things began. I promise I’m not always gonna provide some sort of commentary on what Bishara says, but this tiny statement hit me like a ton of bricks because Bishara is secretly reading the Bible, he goes to bed one night, wakes up to a supernatural visitor in his room, becomes a follower of Jesus, and then says, “The day after that is when things began.” In my book, things already began. God already showed up in ways that I haven’t ever experienced, and it seems like the precedent has been set. This is just the low key norm that Bishara begins to expect from a walk with God. For me, dreams and visions are not the precursor to big things. They are the big things. For Bishara, they’re just the beginning.

RYAN: Um, I was with Luke, and Bishara started sending messages on WhatsApp. Y’know, all this is going through Google Translate, so he’s saying stuff like, “Jesus is my God, and, you know, I am, you know, only with Jesus,” and then he started sending like these just kind of like goofy memes about like Jesus floating in the sky and angels around and stuff. So we, we really didn’t, had no idea what to think. 

DAN: And that’s when, when Luke contacted me and said, “I think there’s a guy from my class who, who believes in Jesus. Would you be willing to meet with him?” And I said, “Sure.” So I went to the shop where Bishara was working, and our first meeting he was really happy. He had a smile on his face, and more than once he said, “I love Jesus.” I had had experiences doing follow up like this with single guys over the years and had had not so positive experiences, if I’m honest. The way that it often went was these guys were interested in talking about the Word, interested in meeting one-on-one, but were not interested in any way of other people knowing about that interest because there’s so much at stake. And I had seen how getting into that kind of pattern didn’t do anything to advance these guys’ faith, and in fact it was a faith killer. And so when I met with Bishara for the first time, I was happy to hear that he loved Jesus and at the same time I had had all those experiences swirling around in my head and what came out in that very first meeting was, “If you love Jesus, the road you’re gonna go down on is gonna be harder than the one you’re on now. Your life is gonna get harder. It’s not gonna be easier, but it will be better.” And little did we know, in a matter of like eight weeks later, his family was gonna put him to the test. 

SARAH LEWIS: So things went on like this for a while. Bishara would meet with Dan and secretly read his Bible at night, and his family had no idea what was going on – until one day when he got caught. 

BISHARA: I remember I was sitting in my room and praying. My family member saw me, they told my uncle, and he wanted an answer – “What are you doing? Have you became an infidel?” I wished I wasn’t in that moment. I wish I didn’t have to face him. But I knew what Dan had been telling me, that if I was going to follow Jesus it was going to be hard. I said to him, “Yes, I am a Christian.”

DAN: So he knew how his father would react if he found out, and he knew that if his family found his Bible that they would tell his father. And that’s exactly what they did. They notified his, his father, and that’s when his dad ordered his uncle to kill him.

DAVID GARRISON: Yeah, ’cause the Bible’s dangerous.

SARAH LEWIS: This is Dr. David Garrison. He’s a leading missiologist and author of several books, including his latest title, A Wind in the House of Islam

DAVID GARRISON: When people read it, you know, uh, especially as they get into the New Testament and they sort of follow the salvation story, they come to see that this really is God’s way of salvation. So in the Muslim world, that’s very dangerous. They don’t want to lose people to, uh, to faith in Jesus ’cause it changes everything.

SARAH LEWIS: It’s hard for us here in the West to see why everything has to change. Why can’t the family just move past Bishara’s awkward new faith and hold their tongues around the dinner table, learn to navigate the tension and hope he comes back to his senses? But it’s not that simple because to leave Islam is to leave an entire cultural framework.

DAVID GARRISON: Such an all-encompassing, uh, worldview, societal structure, uh, legal system, economics, and it just pervades every area of your life. And it’s very difficult to step away because your life and your livelihood and your ability to survive and thrive are all intertwined with those relationships. Someone described Islam as like a, a super highway with on-ramps, all kinds of incentives and reasons to join Islam, but there’s no off-ramps. Once you come on, they don’t tolerate apostasy.

SARAH LEWIS: And on top of the cultural implications, there are religious obligations that Bishara’s family faces. According to Islam, they have a responsibility to punish him for becoming a Christian.

DAVID GARRISON: Islam, um, is not, believe it or not, is not a bloodthirsty religion. Uh, when someone, uh, turns away from Islam, there’s a strong push to bring them back, to have them repent of their error and come back to Islam. But if they do not repent and come back, there is an injunction to put them to death. In general, when Muslims take a hard position against Christianity or against conversion, in their heart and mind they’re doing it for God. So there is a, um, a worldview that reinforces that idea of, um, you know, “This is not just for my people, not just for my family, this is for God.”

SARAH LEWIS: And that’s why a father is willing to have his own son killed and why an uncle is willing to be the one to do it, because for them, killing Bishara is about defending Islam and restoring honor. If they couldn’t convince Bishara to recant, then the next best thing was to end his life. So, after Bishara’s uncle got off the phone with his father, he pulled a pistol from his closet and put a silencer on it. He led Bishara outside to the courtyard. The family gathered around as his uncle put down two books – the Bible on the right and the Quran on the left. “Choose one,” he said. Bishara reached down and grabbed the Bible, and that’s when his uncle lifted the gun to Bishara’s head and pulled the trigger twice.

JESSE EUBANKS: When we come back, we hear what happens after Bishara’s uncle pulls the trigger. Stay with us.


JESSE EUBANKS: Love Thy Neighborhood podcast. Jesse Eubanks. 

ANNA TRAN: Anna Tran. We’ve been hearing from Sarah Lewis, host of the Maverick Podcast. Sarah has been telling the story of Bishara, a young man in southern Africa from a rich and noble family. 

JESSE EUBANKS: When visiting family in Central Africa, Bishara converted from Islam to Christianity. But soon his family found out, and his father ordered Bishara’s uncle to kill him. His uncle took him outside in front of other family members, held a gun to his head, and pulled the trigger. That’s where we’ll pick up.

SARAH LEWIS: And rather than draw this all out, I’m just gonna tell you upfront – Bishara doesn’t die. The gun goes off, shells fall to the ground, and Bishara lives to tell about it.

BISHARA: I watched him put the bullet in the gun. He cocked it and took the safety off. Then he fired. I felt the kick of the gun. It was so strong. 

SARAH LEWIS: He said that in the moment that the gun went off he felt a cool hand press against his head, shielding him from impact. 

BISHARA: Even though the bullet disappeared, the force of the gun still knocked me to the ground. I got back up, clutching the Bible in my hands. He fired again, but no bullet ever hit me. 

SARAH LEWIS: Okay, I think we need to stop here because this is probably the most important point in Bishara’s story for you, the listener, because if you can’t get past this moment, you’re gonna have a hard time getting past the other crazy stuff from here on out. Bishara would tell you that what happened that day was a miracle, but I think for a lot of us, there’s just this weird relationship between the modern day church and supernatural things. You know, you read about the stuff that happens in the Book of Acts and you walk away with this incredible capacity for expecting miracles, but then you walk back into everyday life and you look around you and you just don’t see the same things and we’re all left to grapple with what that means. And we’re going to really dig into all that in a later episode, but even right here at the beginning, as I’m telling this story, I understand that it requires a bit of wrestling. You kind of have to decide if you believe that God works in this way or you don’t. This story requires faith. But with that said, faith doesn’t mean ignorance. When Bishara says that a gun goes off and bullets fall to the ground, we need to consider all the possibilities, and there are basically three. One, the gun misfired. Two, things didn’t really go down like this and Bishara is lying. Or three, this moment really happened just like Bishara said it did and this is supernatural intervention. So in order to rule out possibility number one, a malfunctioning gun, we turned to gun expert Bill Twyman. 

SARAH LEWIS: And you’re still in, in the world of guns? 

BILL TWYMAN: I am. I am. I’m very passionate about this. I’ve been doing this for a lot of years.

SARAH LEWIS: Bill became a cop in 1981 and has had a long career of working with firearms.

BILL TWYMAN: I was on patrol, then I became a training officer, so I was training recruits, and I also became a firearms instructor and then I got certified in sub machine gun instruction, tactical shotgun instruction, handgun and tactical handgun instruction, and then I got selected for SWAT. So for 10 years I was one of the first three through every door – hostage situations, um, search warrants, meth labs, all that kind of stuff.

SARAH LEWIS: And even after retirement, he continues to teach gun safety classes. He said I could meet him at the range for our interview. And when I got there, he even offered to teach me to shoot.

BILL TWYMAN: Chin forward a little bit. There you go. That like that. Good. Slowly press the trigger. That’s it. Look at that. Bullseye. Bullseye. Woo. That literally is all there is to shooting a gun. 

SARAH LEWIS: But eventually we sat down to talk about Bishara’s story and what could have happened with his uncle’s gun. 

SARAH LEWIS: Walk me through like – what are the different kinds of malfunctions that are even possible in this scenario? 

BILL TWYMAN: There’s four malfunctions that, that go on. Failure to feed, failure to fire, boom, failure to extract, and failure to eject the empty bullet.

SARAH LEWIS: And Bill narrowed down these possibilities pretty quickly because in some of these instances of malfunction the gun won’t even go off. According to Bishara, it definitely fired, so those get taken off the table. Other malfunctions are due to operator error, which can’t be 100 percent dismissed but are pretty unlikely based on the fact that Bishara’s uncle was prolific with guns. 

BILL TWYMAN: Because of his awareness as a soldier and as a gunner, I can’t imagine at that point it was operator error. So then it leads me to two things – either the bullets were corroded or it was divine. 

SARAH LEWIS: And if bullets are corroded, you said they’re gonna fall. They’re just not gonna –

BILL TWYMAN: No, no, no. If the bullets are corroded, that means liquid has gotten in here around this ’cause it’s not watertight – it’s real tight, but it’s not necessarily watertight. 

SARAH LEWIS: So it won’t ever leave the barrel if that’s the case.

BILL TWYMAN: That’s correct. 

SARAH LEWIS: Okay. And would you say somebody who’s gun savvy is gonna notice something like the bullet corroded? 

BILL TWYMAN: Absolutely. When, when I take this and I go to load it in here, I look at every bullet. You can’t not.

SARAH LEWIS: And it would be obvious if there were –

BILL TWYMAN: It would be obvious if there was, if it was corroded here or corroded around here. You would know.

SARAH LEWIS: So basically if the bullets were corroded, Bishara’s uncle would’ve noticed. And even if he didn’t notice and loaded the corroded bullet into the gun, the chances of this happening twice in a row are slim to none. And while none of this is absolutely definitive, it certainly makes the malfunctioning gun less likely than other possibilities. Here’s how Bill summed it up.

BILL TWYMAN: I have literally fired hundreds of thousands of bullets, and my malfunctions I could probably count on one hand. I still am of the opinion it was divine intervention.

SARAH LEWIS: So turning to the other possibilities, either Bishara was lying or this was a miracle. And of course I can’t actually prove anything, so I’m left to make some educated guesses. But basically, it comes down to what Bishara had to gain from all of this and how he responded. And this is really what juries are trying to figure out when someone’s on trial. What’s the motive? What is there to gain? Did they become a millionaire by fabricating something? Then yeah, they probably lied. And then at the same time, what does Bishara do next? How does he respond to what he said happened? What does he do with pressure? Does his story change as it starts costing him more? In Scripture, you’ve got these accounts of Jesus walking around doing unbelievable things, and what corroborated those stories in a big way is how the disciples reacted. What they saw changed how they lived. They put their lives on the line. They gave up everything they once thought was important, and they held onto their claims even when it meant they were killed. They had everything to lose and nothing to gain by making the claims they made unless it was all true. And remember those seemingly insignificant details we talked about in episode one? This is where the first one comes into play because Bishara was comfortable. He had everything he could want in life – rich family, good status, success. The only thing that would mess that up for him was to become a Christian. There isn’t really an angle here. Bishara had nothing to gain and everything to lose unless it was true, and then there’s everything he does from here on out that will really make the case for his truthfulness because Bishara doesn’t shrink back. The only wrong move when your uncle attempts to murder you is to become more bold. If you’re being disingenuous, that’s the moment to fold. But as the trigger went off, Bishara became 100 percent convinced that this was truth worth dying for.

DAN: It was like that point with a pistol on his head when he chose the Bible – it was this explosion. Something went off in this amazing trajectory that nobody could have seen coming.

SARAH LEWIS: So it didn’t work. Bishara was still very much alive, and his uncle was freaked out. He figured that if he tried to kill him again, something really bad was gonna happen to him as a repercussion, but he still needed to convince Bishara to recant or at least punish him for becoming an infidel. So he started grabbing everything Bishara owned and piling it outside.

BISHARA: When my uncle realized he couldn’t shoot me, he said I must be kicked out of the house. I watched my uncle take my clothes, my computer, and even grabbed my money. He put its all in a pile outside. He poured a liter of gas and burned everything. I was very upset. It was a hard moment. Very hard.

DAN: So he’s got nothing left. Losing everything is hard, but it’s not just about sending him away empty-handed. It goes even deeper and becomes even more painful when you understand that clothes are a big deal in that part of the world. There’s just a high value on them, and it’s really absurd even for a wealthy family to waste them. So for Bishara’s uncle to burn his clothes, it was a statement. He was saying to everyone watching that those clothes are now worthless because they belong to him. They’re dirty and unusable, and by burning them it was like he was trying to erase the stain of Bishara from the family.

SARAH LEWIS: So what do you do with that? I mean, he’s just seen God show up and rescue him, but then he steps into the very next moment and watches his life be reduced to ash. In a way, he’s up against these two characteristics of God. He knows beyond a shadow of a doubt that God can save him from any circumstance, and at the same time he’s experiencing the reality that God will also allow him to walk through painful things, things he wishes God would save him from. I think that’s such a perfect microcosm of Bishara’s journey and really sort of a foreshadowing of the next couple years of his life. 

BISHARA: Before that moment, I wasn’t sure how strong my faith was. I knew I wanted to follow Jesus, but I was worried that I wasn’t going to be strong enough to suffer for him. And even though I was losing everything, I had peace. I had peace too because I had my answer. I chose Jesus, and he was worth it.

SARAH LEWIS: In 2012, the Colorado State Forest Service started what they called a controlled burn. They lit the fire hoping to prevent a future forest fire. They intended for it to burn a few acres of brittle brush. What they did not intend was for it to stretch 1,400 acres, destroy 23 homes, and kill three people. But that’s the nature of a fire. It might not always go where we want it to go and accomplish what we want it to accomplish. Even with the best of intentions, starting a fire is risky. 

That’s what Bishara’s family didn’t know that day as they watched all his belongings burn. They lit an unintended fire, a kindling of Bishara’s faith. They thought they could stop him, but they didn’t realize that suffering produces perseverance. They thought they could deplete him, but they didn’t account for the fact that once faith is tested and proven it becomes more valuable than gold. They couldn’t see that what looked like Bishara losing was actually a moment of him gaining.

DAN: If you lose your life, if you pick up your cross, which is, you know, a means of torture and death, then you’ll actually save it. Bishara and I talked a lot about that, and we talked about the parable of the treasure in the field. There’s no way for that person in the parable to get the treasure unless he sells everything that he has. And I can tell you that up until that moment with Bishara, I hadn’t seen many people abandon everything for the sake of buying that field. But that’s exactly what Bishara did, and he had so much to give up. He had so much to lose for it. When you think about it, he chose what was absolutely crazy in the eyes of the world. He traded everything for the sake of a treasure that no one could see because it’s underneath the ground and takes eyes of faith to see it, but God had given him those eyes.

BISHARA: It’s true that if you suffer the sufferings won’t last a long time, but later there is deep joy that doesn’t end. It’s like nothing else on this earth. It’s priceless. This is the thing that gives me strength.

DAN: It’s such an amazing thing to watch what suffering does in Bishara’s life. And of course, getting shot at and kicked out was just the tip of the iceberg. But even in all that, it was proof that God uses evil for good. And I think the thing that really took us by surprise was just how much good was going to come from it, and there was just no way to prepare for the stuff that was about to happen next.


JESSE EUBANKS: If you wanna hear the rest of Bishara’s story, you can look up the Maverick Podcast wherever you listen to podcasts. There’s a total of eight episodes in the series about Bishara. There’s even more unbelievable moments along his journey, including prison, mysterious illnesses, and even torture. It’s a wild ride. Check it out wherever you listen to podcasts.


JESSE EUBANKS: Special thanks to the Maverick Podcast for letting us feature Bishara’s story on our show. Their host is Sarah Lewis. 

ANNA TRAN: Guests on these episodes were David Garrison and Bill Twyman. Feese Aconga (?) was the voice of Bishara. Senior producer and host is Jesse Eubanks. 

JESSE EUBANKS: This episode was produced and edited by Anna Tran. 

ANNA TRAN: Theme music and commercial music by Murphy DX.

JESSE EUBANKS: This show is brought to you by Love Thy Neighborhood. If you want a hands-on experience of missions in our modern times, come serve with Love Thy Neighborhood. Love Thy Neighborhood offers a summer and year long’s mission internship for young adults ages 18 to 30. Bring social change with the gospel by working with an innovative nonprofit and serving your urban neighbors. 

ANNA TRAN: Experience community like never before as you live and do ministry with other Christian young adults. Grow in your faith by walking in the life and lifestyle of Jesus and being part of a vibrant, healthy church. Apply now at 

JESSE EUBANKS: Which of these was a neighbor to the man in need? The one who showed mercy. Jesus tells us, “Go, and do likewise.”


This podcast is only made possible by generous donors like you!


Guests on these episodes were David Garrison and Bill Twinem. Fils Ekanga was the voice of Bishara.

Senior producer and host is Jesse Eubanks. 

This episode was produced and edited by Anna Tran.

Music for this episode comes from Blue Dot Sessions and Podington Bear.