George Tooray

The Hidden Treasure

“The kingdom of heaven is like a treasure hidden in the field, which a man found and hid again; and from joy over it he goes and sells everything that he has, and buys that field” (Matthew 13:44).

The history of gold mining in Mali, Africa’s fourth largest gold producer, dates back to the 12th century. Because of gold’s great value on the world market, miners manually dig holes up to 30 to 40 meters (100 to 130 feet) deep to extract the shining yellow nuggets. Sometimes the pits fall in on them, leading to the loss of lives.

Gold mining habitually serves as a source of income for most families in Mali. Many have refused to attend school or dropped out in order to mine gold, leading to a low level of education. Many families also do not believe in God.

Abdullah, who is illiterate and deeply engaged in gold mining, said: “I have three wives. I married them through the money I get from gold mining. I have houses, cars and a lot of children because of gold mining. Time lost is a chance lost to become rich. My children will mine gold to maintain our wealth and keep our family united.”

Abdullah acknowledges that a life spent in the mines is dangerous, with many nefarious activities. Young men are addicted to drugs and alcohol. Young girls are exposed to early marriage and rape. Therefore Abdullah makes sacrifices every month for God’s protection and blessings.

Abdullah admitted that things were getting better. An administrative body now exists to resolve miners’ issues. Previously, miners would turn guns and cutlasses upon one another to account for grievances, resulting in lost lives and property. Mining groups remain highly competitive. If a group detects a house sitting on a large deposit of gold, they will break into the house and turn it into a gold mining site. When one group crosses into another’s mining site, disaster awaits.

“For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, for which some have strayed from the faith in their greediness, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows” (1 Timothy 6:10). “No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon” (Matthew 6:24). If the love of money can lead the faithful to stray away from God, how much more can the love of money wedge the unreached from Him? Please pray for God’s wisdom and love to guide us in reaching the people of Mali.

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