“Well if it’s so bad, why don’t you come back to Africa?”

Well this post is a little different because it is going to be more about the attitudes and struggles of the ones that we meet in the ministry that may be unique to a foreign language field. The other week we had a visitor at the hall who is originally from Cameroon. As I spoke with him I learned more in that one conversation than I have in these past few years preaching to the French about the reality of leaving Africa to come to a developed country. I had met this man in the ministry about a week earlier so we remembered each other. As we were talking in the hall I told him that I am from the United States and was telling him about my trip here. Then I naively asked how long it took him to get here from Cameroon as if he just hopped on a plane and arrived in a few hours. He then nicely explained to me that it doesn’t work that way. For him to come to Spain he must cross several countries such as Nigeria, Benin, Burkina Faso, Mali, Algeria then Morocco. Then after all of the TIME and MONEY that went into crossing those countries he must cross the sea which divides Morocco from Spain. This trip understandably has its dangers and obviously not all are successful. He then went on to explain to me something that shed great insight into the real motives of the ones making these trips. He goes on to explain to me that in Africa where he was from many have a decent life in the sense that they have their family near them, they have their kids to play with and they have modest work. He said that in Africa where he comes from there are many fields where anyone who wants to can work. But the problem he said is that there are those who are not content with working in the fields. There are many who he knew who left good jobs in Africa to come to Spain.

He spoke with people from Spain while he was still in Africa before he made his trip. He would ask them how things were in Spain. They would tell him that it was difficult here and that there were many struggling. They would say stay in Africa, do not come to Spain because it is not how you think it is! What was his response and that of many who heard the same thing? “Well if its so bad, why don’t you come home?” He went on to explain to me something that I had an idea about but I’ve never heard it stated so bluntly and openly from someone who has gone through it and can speak from experience. He said that the only reason that Africans come to Spain is for financial reasons. We don’t come here for vacation, for leisure or for other reasons. When he was in Africa he had an image in his mind of Spain being paved with gold and that if he could just get here… he would become rich. In Africa as he said people leave good jobs or the chance to work in a field if they want with ease. But once they arrive in Spain now they must struggle with great difficulty to have a chance to work in those “same” fields here. While its true that some are able to become “successful” here in a financial sense the vast majority have a VERY difficult time here. As he was telling me all of these things I could see the heartache and regret in his eyes. He looked like someone who had been deceived who deeply regrets his past decision. He explained to me that even if he wanted to go back to Africa now it is impossible. So now he is essentially trapped away from his family who he someday would like to bring here. I will never forget that conversation! My heart went out to him and at the same time it made me grateful for many things!

It allowed me to see up close and personal the folly of chasing after material things and the wisdom of being content with our needs being covered. It also increased my appreciation for the Bible based counsel we receive from our organization regarding pursuing material dreams at all costs. It also showed me how ruthless Satan the ruler of this system of things is. He puts in front of people things that appear to be valuable but in the end they are just illusions that lead to heartache and pain! It also helped me to see even more that we are truly part of an organization that is protected in many ways from much of the misery that this world experiences!