John Samani is the son of a man I have often referred to as my closest friend and one who taught me so much that was of great benefit to me, Malam (teacher) Samani. Malam Samani was the first to come to Christ among his tribe of animistic people in Central Nigeria. A missionary who had trekked into the area on horseback was the one who first made contact with him and, in due time, led him to saving faith in Jesus Christ. Malam Samani had leprosy which was recognized by the missionary; and he came to our institution for treatment. Periodically we allowed our patients to return to their homes for brief visits. He related this incident to me when he returned from such a visit.
He had one small son who had been born prior to his coming to the leprosarium, and he was looking forward to seeing this small child. He was distressed when he found his pagan wife had put charms on him that had been obtained from a witch doctor. Malam Samani announced to the village people that he wanted to meet with the whole village at a given time. He arrived with his son, bundle of wood, and some live coals. He began by giving clear testimony of the fact that he was a child of God, a follower of Jesus Christ. He no longer had any relationship with the works of darkness and with the witch doctors who controlled his tribal people. After giving a very clear testimony of his saving faith in Christ, he took the bundle of wood and the live coals and started a fire. Then, to the horror of the congregated tribes people, he cut off the pagan charms that were on his son and threw them into the fire, which consumed them. The local people were horrified, thinking something very drastic would happen; but nothing did. It was a tremendous testimony of a victory in Christ over the satanic powers that bound his people. Through that testimony many of his tribe came to faith in Christ.
But he also noticed that his son showed some of the first signs of leprosy and returned with him to the leprosarium. The boy was very bright, and we recognized the great potential in this young lad. Because the disease was in a very early stage, it responded quickly to appropriate treatment. We were able to sponsor the boy in a local Christian mission boys' school, where he did exceptionally well. During school breaks he would return to us; and, as he was at an age where he could begin to learn some medical skills, he was trained as a medical laboratory technician and did his work very well.
After graduation from the mission school, he was able to go on to a secondary school, where he likewise did very well; and eventually we were able to put him in a school of nursing that was conducted by one of our mission hospitals. Again, he excelled in his studies. His skills became known to the government, which was looking for keen young people who could be trained in specialized areas. John was given a scholarship to study to become a nurse anesthetist and trained in that field.
John had come to faith in Jesus Christ largely through the exemplary testimony of his father and was known as a dedicated Christian young man. Somewhere along the line in his training he met and eventually married a Christian young lady of similar background who was trained as a midwife.
In the far north of Nigeria, where we were ministering at the time, there were a number of emirates in which we had mission work. But there was one smaller emirate, the emir of which was adamantly opposed to the Gospel and would never allow any missionary to come into his territory, nor would he allow any national pastor to live in his area of jurisdiction. Many times as we had to pass through that area, our hearts bled for the longing to be able to preach Jesus Christ to those held in bondage by Islam. But it seemed that this opportunity was not to be had in that particular territory.
The central government of Nigeria allocated funds and built a small rural hospital in the emirate. The subject of our sketch, John Samani, was stationed at this hospital. He was not only the nurse anesthetist but also the administer of the hospital. Being a dedicated Christian young man, he gathered around him other African professionals who were born again believers. The emir had no choice but to accept them since this was a facility of the central government. Through the testimony of John Samani and his colaborers, a number of Muslim people in that emirate came to faith in Jesus Christ. A vital New Testament church was established; and with their own funds, a church was built. Although we missionaries were not allowed to minister in that area on order of the emir, yet we were permitted to attend the inauguration and dedication of this church building once it had been completed. They supported their own pastor, and the work of the Lord prospered in the "closed emirate."
Because of the high quality of John's work and his integrity and honesty, he was promoted to a much larger hospital in a position of responsibility; but the work that largely developed under his leadership in that hard Muslim area continued.
This is an outstanding testimony of how Christian national professionals can and are being used to establish ministries that bring honor and glory to our wonderful Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. The task that the missionary could never have done was accomplished by a national who had been well trained and who loved the Lord and desired to see his own people come to faith.
I last visited John and his family in his new position; and again, he was humbly serving the Lord in a very admirable way. He was a skilled nurse anesthetist and also a very competent hospital administrator, one who above all loved the Lord and was seeking to exalt the Lord Jesus Christ. I see in John the fruit of the testimony of a very godly father and of a son who, although his father had no formal education, respected his father and by faith in Jesus Christ accepted his father's Savior as his own and has served faithfully and humbly in very responsible positions. By so doing, he has born tremendous testimony to our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.