26th July, 2012
PAUL HARALAN POPOV
Via Assist News Service
I met Musaf (not his real identity) while ministering to underground believers in the sweltering desert temperatures of Africa through a good friend who knew his struggles and asked me to help. The sun beat down with an intense heat as I waited at the designated meeting place. I was a little apprehensive. Musaf, from what I was told, liked to do things differently, his own way.
I have smuggled Bibles behind the Iron Curtain and other hostile to the Gospel countries for over 40 years using many unique methods. But I had no idea how to penetrate Mauritania, one of the poorest, most restricted Islamic countries. Musaf’s vision to deliver Bibles into Mauritania was definitely unusual.
BIBLES BY CAMEL: Camels are used for smuggling Bibles into countries like Mauritania. PICTURE:Robert Parzychowski/www.sxc.hu
'Lagjar, the camel, is a unique Bible smuggler. He has carried hundreds of Arabic Bibles and cassettes of recorded Bibles on several journeys to the Nomads. On one such journey, as Lagjar (meaning, “Strong One”) travelled a precariously narrow trail along a mountain side his foot slipped. He had a nasty fall and needed an operation."
“Can you help me purchase a camel?” he asked.
Islam has dominated Mauritania - officially the Islamic Republic of Mauritania - for more than 1,000 years. Printing and distributing non-Islamic religious materials and evangelising Muslims are punishable by death. The handful of believers there are in constant danger and persecution has intensified. Getting Bibles in is very dangerous, especially for Musaf. Yet Musaf is undaunted.
“I need 200 Bibles in Arabic, 100 Bibles in French, MP3 players, teaching materials and a camel,” he told me.
I asked, “Why a camel?”
“To carry the Bibles across miles of desert” he stated.
Of course, it made perfect sense!
Two thirds of Mauritania is covered by the Sahara Desert. Most of the population is concentrated in the cities of Nouakchott and Nouadhibou and along the Senegal River. Travelling in the desert would be treacherous by car.
It would be hard to run out of gas on a camel.
Many people think of the Sahara Desert as a sea of flat sand. The Sahara terrain is changing all the time. Strong gusts of wind whip the honey colored sand into ever changing fluid hills. Blowing continually creating shifting landscapes of rows of sand dunes aligned from northeast to southwest in ridges from two to twenty kilometers wide.
Out into the thirsty sand, traveling by camel gives you a great deal of flexibility. A car would be quickly buried in a sand pile. The camel can withstand extreme temperatures making them invaluable in the arid, hot conditions that can reach over 49 degrees Celcius by mid-afternoon.
I remember when I smuggled Bibles into what was then the Soviet Union, how difficult and heavy those Bibles were. A camel can transport 900 pounds – that’s a lot of Bibles. I sure could have used one in those days!
Nomadic communities are difficult to reach. Forever moving like the shifting sand dunes to keep their herds fed and watered, they have no walls. Moving is necessary for them, but this often isolates them from others.
How will they hear the Gospel? It must be brought to them on the hump of a camel.
With the help of our faithful partners, Door of Hope International has equipped Musaf with Bibles, MP3 players and yes, a camel.
Lagjar, the camel, is a unique Bible smuggler. He has carried hundreds of Arabic Bibles and cassettes of recorded Bibles on several journeys to the Nomads. On one such journey, as Lagjar (meaning, “Strong One”) travelled a precariously narrow trail along a mountain side his foot slipped. He had a nasty fall and needed an operation.
Musaf sent an urgent email asking for help with transportation and operation costs. It was quite an ordeal lifting a camel onto a truck and getting him to the veterinarian of the nearest big city for his operation.
Praise God, Lagjar is recovering well and will soon continue his Godly work. Meanwhile, eager to continue the call God has placed on his heart, Musaf rented two camels for his most recent successful trip.
Musaf is hoping we can help him purchase another camel to help share the load with Lagjar.
Through Door of Hope’s BBC-Bibles by Camel project hundreds of Nomads have received the Word of God in a most unordinary way.
God often uses the unordinary, does He?
So, how much does a camel cost? In American dollars one camel costs $US1,600. That’s a small price to pay for salvation.
If you would like to be part of this unique opportunity to help deliver Bibles by Camel to Mauritania please visit www.dohi.org for more information about this and other projects.
Paul Haralan Popov is the president of Door of Hope International.
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