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The Rev. Sory Abraham Dosso (right) prepares to join the celebration following the baptism of one of his congregants.

COURTESY ABRAHAM SORY DOSSO

The Rev. Sory Abraham Dosso (right) prepares to join the celebration following the baptism of one of his congregants.

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Answering call puts life, faith in harmony

 

A Journey of Faith

In a country where Islam is the primary religion, the road to Christianity can be paved with anguish and persecution. The Rev. Sory Abraham Dosso of Côte d'Ivoire knows firsthand.

Twenty years ago, Dosso, then a Muslim, became critically ill. He sought various remedies, including a marabout, a dervish in Muslim Africa believed to have supernatural power.

"Death was close," he recalled. "It scared me because I still had the memory of my older brother who died in similar circumstances in 1992. I was suffering so much that I asked God to end my life. The same night I made that request, Jesus (began to reveal) himself to me through dreams."

In the first dream, Dosso was on a street with cars parked all around, but no people. He heard someone call his name three times. He noticed a white car with a passenger sitting next to the driver. "This passenger," he said, "was the Lord Jesus, clothed resplendently. He invited me to sit beside him. I did, and he started talking to me.

"When I woke up, unfortunately, I forgot what he told me. I remembered a magazine he showed me. On the cover was my picture with a depraved look. This image, he said, represented my future, what my life would be if I did not follow him."

The second dream came after he shared an outdoor meal with his uncle and aunt. "In the dream," he said, "I was awake and went out of the house. Everything we used for the meal was in the yard, but there was no one. I then looked up at the sky. I saw a star leaving the sky and passing over our house. I went outside to have a better view of its path. Behind the house was a church, whose main facade overlooked the sunset. There was a statue of Christ."

The star hit the statue, which then became animated. "It began to walk. This statue was so big and so powerful. At every step, the ground shook. I wondered who this man, represented by this living statue, was."

In Dosso's third dream, he was with friends during a war. People were fighting, and his task was to inform Jesus. He saw Jesus in the form of three persons, gesturing in unison. "All three watched me," he said. "I told the others that Jesus was praying. Later, I found Jesus before us and us behind him, armed to follow him, ready to obey him."

‘I offered my life to Jesus'

Dosso's health improved, even as his dreams continued to torment him. While they awakened him with loud noises, everyone around him slept quietly. He heard a voice telling him, "I am coming to give you the power. Give me your life; trust me."

He was confused.. "I wanted to know more and understand what was happening to me," he said. "In my quest for answers, I came close to Christian friends who helped me meet their pastors. Those friends and pastors then invited me to attend church where, according to them, I would understand what was happening to me. So, I attended church."

Going to youth meetings, he walked past a library. One day, he said, "I felt a force drawing me inside the library. A person told me they were selling Christian books. I asked if I could come just to read. He gave me a book of Thomas Watson based on Romans 8:28, ‘Everything works for the good of those who love God.' That became my conversion verse."

Suddenly, Dosso said, "I understood why I was going through suffering, disease and everything else. It was about my whole life. It was as if Watson had written my story. I had tears in my eyes. I felt like a fire was burning in my heart, and I stopped reading. I was troubled."

He ran home and locked himself in his room for three days.

"I spent that time in repentance," he said, "asking God for forgiveness. I offered my life to Jesus. My story really began with Jesus. That was when I became a Christian. That was on July 27, 1994.

"I gave up my old life. I was healed. I devoured the Bible every day in meditation."

Dosso knew his Muslim family would not accept his newfound religion. "I lived my Christian faith," he said. "I kept Christian documents in my room." His uncle found the Christian materials and told Dosso's mother. His father had left the house two years earlier.

Dosso's mother evicted him. "I was living in the streets."

After his uncle's death, Dosso returned home.

His father also came back and began persecuting him. "One day, he asked me to take my ablutions and pray with him as a good Muslim. If not, I would not be his son. It was a tough decision," he said. "I was no longer a Muslim, so I could not practice Islam, but I had to obey my father.

‘The old things have gone away'

"I told him everything — from my disease to my dreams and my conversion. I also told him that Jesus was real to me and that I could not ignore it. The following day, my father expelled me again."

After two years, Dosso returned home at his father's invitation. The persecution resumed.

"I borrowed a coal-fueled iron to do laundry," he said. "I made a living out of it. I enrolled in night classes to further my education."

Dosso sought refuge at a churchwoman's home. She told him, "Christian life is not easy. That's why Christ asked each of us to bear his cross. Take courage; it shall be well with you." When she did not offer a place for him to live, a Muslim friend welcomed Dosso into his home.

People kept encouraging Dosso to pursue ordained ministry.

Although "God spoke to me many times," Dosso admitted, "it scared me. I resisted the call. In light of what I went through just to become a Christian, I feared what would happen if I became a pastor."

He finally answered God's call, becoming one of the first 40 pastors trained locally at Institut Supérieur de Théologie d'Abidjan in 2006.

Dosso is living proof of what the apostle wrote in 2 Corinthians 5:17 (CEB), "So then, if anyone is in Christ, that person is part of the new creation. The old things have gone away, and look, new things have arrived!"

"That," he said, "became my ministry verse."

Today Dosso is assistant to the Côte d'Ivoire Annual Conference secretary in charge of communications. His main task is to support programs at the radio station "The Voice of Hope" and national TV programs. He and his wife, Nomo Jenny Clementine, have a daughter, Dosso Sory Trinity, 5, and a son, Dosso Sory Akim, 3.

"I entered the pastoral ministry," he said, "not under compulsion, but as the only option to be in harmony with God and my faith.

"I wanted to know what God expected from me."

Story developed by Barbara Dunlap-Berg, associate editor, Interpreter,  from an interview with the Rev. Sory Abraham Dosso conducted by Isaac Broune, director of communications, Côte d'Ivoire Annual Conference.

By Barbara Dunlap-Berg and Isaac Broune
January-February 2015