Update on Pastor Jose and Zeneide in Senegal (Africa)
Reported By David Witt
In February, we visited Pastor Jose Silva Dilson and Zeneide in prison in Theis, Senegal. We were inspired and humbled by their overcoming faith. They have been imprisoned over four months after being arrested on November 6, 2012 under false charges “for child trafficking, illegal child labor, unlicensed orphanage and converting Muslim children to Christianity.” After further investigation all charges have been dropped, except the charge of converting children (minors) under 18 to Christianity. Recently, Pastor Jose met with the judge and was told he cannot talk about Jesus to the children. Pastor Jose replied, “If I cannot share the Gospel then why am I here in Senegal? I am here for the children. If I really love the children, then I must share with them about Jesus.”
The day the Spirit of Martyrdom team met with Pastor Jose and Zeneide in the visitation courtyard was a day of favor for all. Marli, Jose’s wife met us outside the prison gate. As we were about to enter the prison, the Warden came by and greeted Marli. The visits are limited to five to ten minutes, but the Warden decided to grant us a visit that lasted almost forty minutes and since we were given favor… about 60 other inmates were also given extra time.
Jose and Zeneide were not treated so well when they first entered the prison. They were accused of “child molestation and converting Muslim children” so the guards and other inmates treated them harshly. Jose shared, “To kill an ‘infidel’ behind these walls for preaching the Gospel and converting Muslims is not a problem.” Jose’s cell is 32 feet by 13 feet and shared with 45 other inmates. At first the guard would not let Jose have a mattress. Zeneide’s cell is also overcrowded. Both of them began to serve others in prison with the love of Jesus. Zeneide attended to the sick and lonely women in her cell. Jose began to clean the cell and toilets. A Marabout (Islamic leader and practitioner of witchcraft) is in prison with Pastor Jose. The Marabout has eleven disciples that attend to his ever need. One day the Marabout asked, “Why do you do this?” Pastor Jose replied, “Leaders serve first and then lead others.” “Yes, this is true,” acknowledged the Marabout. “But you do not just say it… you do it.” One day as Jose was cleaning, the Marabout came and told Jose to rest as it was now his (the Marabout) turn to clean.” Jose showed the Jesus film and the Christian film of ex-Muslim’s testimonies called More than Dreams to the Marabout and everyone else in his cell. One inmate with mental health issues kept watching the Jesus film many times. He would reply at different parts and say, “Did you hear what Jesus said?” One day he said, “I belong to Jesus and my name is now Jacob.” Many other inmates have responded to faith in Jesus and they have started a church in the prison.
Jose and Zeneide have filled their days with acts of kindness. One day a Muslim man was brought to prison for owing the equivalent of $50. Jose arranged to have the debt paid and the man was immediately released. The overcrowding is extreme and they both consider themselves blessed compared to other cells. Another cell was shared by 127 men that is 32 feet by 32 feet. Jose was able to help raise the funds to complete the construction of a new cell at the prison. The day before we arrived the new cell was dedicated and Pastor Jose and Zeneide were honored by the Warden and city Mayor. Their service and witness of Christ has turned them into heroes and given them respect among the inmate population.
Marli shared with us that God has done many miracles and they are sure of their call to share the Gospel with the children of Senegal. God has used this trial to cause them to want to save more Talibe children (See article in December for more information on the Talibe) from the streets of Senegal. In 2005, Pastor Jose and his wife Marli began praying for God to lead them in opportunities to minister in Senegal. The Talibe children started knocking on their door who were physically and sexually abused and neglected. Their hearts were broken for the children. Marli shared, “The Holy Spirit spoke to us and said, “I will make you a part of the redemption of the Senegalese children. Just like I was with Moses, I will be with you.
“We started looking for land to purchase and developed an orphanage. We found the perfect property with much land for $12,000 USD, but we did not have the money. God gave us faith to put the land in contract. On the day of the sale, we still did not have the funds. Jose said, ‘I know God spoke to me about this property, if God does not provide this property then I obviously do not know His voice so we might as well pack up and go home to Brazil.’ The meeting with the seller started and Jose did not know what to say. Before the issue of money was raised, Jose’s cell phone rang. ‘Jose something strange just happened,’ a friend from the USA said on the other line. “It is 4:00 a.m. here and I could not sleep because of my back issues and pain. This morning Jesus healed my back and I heard the Holy Spirit tell me to call you and give you $12,000. USD.’ ”
Marli shared with us that this situation has been very difficult. “Some days we feel that we cannot go on. But every time the next day, the Lord strengthens me to go on.” Zeneide, Jose and Marli continue to need your prayers. Spirit of Martyrdom is blessed to have contributed funds to their needs. Please join us in contacting the Senegalese Embassy and asking that Pastor Jose Silva Dilson and Zeneide be released immediately to return to their work of mercy with the street children of Senegal.
Senegalese Embassy in Washington, the United States
(+1) (202) 234 0540
2112 Wyoming Avenue, N.W.
Washington D.C. 20008