(Our “miracle” baby girl)
One of the biggest challenges as missionaries in Rhodesia, Africa was combating the ingrained ancestral belief of heathen gods and heathen practices. Second only to the power wielded by the village Chief was the resident witchdoctor. He, or in some cases she, held the villagers in a vice-grip claw of fear and dread. So many of the heathen rituals concocted and practiced by them, were steeped in superstition and brooding darkness. Their charms, amulets, blood sacrifices, all represented a deeply imbedded belief system of constantly needing to appease the many evil spirits they worshipped, yet never succeeding.
Frequently when heathen villagers understood the one and only True God and turned away from their heather practices to follow the Lord; the witchdoctors became incensed with us missionaries and our lay preachers. It was not long before we became aware of something insidious raising its ugly head among our African congregations. The village witchdoctor had been replaced by “self-proclaimed prophets” who were nothing but charlatans preying on the deeply ingrained fear of mystical proclamations. They were nothing but false Pentecostal witchdoctors wreaking havoc among the new believers and sowing seeds of confusion and discord.
This resulted in us having to take a firm stand against these individuals both through Biblical preaching, teaching and when necessary publicly disciplining them. Naturally we became as unpopular with them as we were with the village witchdoctors, as we were diluting their power in the local church. Several of these men “prophesied” to the people that it was time the missionary was taught a lesson and they would prove that their power was greater than the missionary’s God!
When the time came to hold our next quarterly District conference, the word of the “challenge” the “prophets” had made, had spread like wild fire through our District.
Our African Pastors along with lay pastors, their families and many members from the 150 congregations that fell under our care, arrived by a variety of ways of transportation. Some walked miles, others on bicycles; many on rickety busses and a few with vehicles. They set up camp in the church yard, each family with a little camp-fire where they would cook and sleep.
On the Saturday of the conference Glyn would hold a business meeting with the Pastors, elders and deacons, to take care of District business in the humble church building. I gathered the rest of the crowd outside, all seated on the dry dusty soil, while I preached the Word. At this particular Conference I was expecting our third child and this probably would be the last trip the doctor would allow me to take before the baby arrived. The people were excited about the arrival of this baby as we had tragically lost our second baby the day he was born and they believed that God was blessing us again. I did not attend the evening preaching service as I was weary and Glyn felt I should rest and gain strength for our big final communion service on Sunday.
We had noticed on Saturday that there seemed to be a brooding attitude of tension festering under the surface; like a bubbling cauldron ready to spew its venomous contents upon the congregation.
During the worship time that evening a “self-proclaimed prophet”; that Glyn had dealt with on numerous occasions; rose to his feet with a defiant challenge to Glyn’s leadership and a proclamation against me. He told the stunned congregation that God had revealed to him that I was “with child”! May I say that this obviously was not a divine revelation, as all you had to do was look at me to see that very soon a baby was to be born!
He then went on to say that the baby I was carrying was dying and unless I went to a particular place of “his choosing” for three days of prayer I would deliver a dead child. When he was finished, it was as though a bolt of lightning had paralyzed the congregation; the silence was tangible and the faces registered abject terror.
Glyn broke the silence by instructing the man to sit down and then told the stunned congregation that God would prove He was more powerful than this false prophet’s curse. He added that we were not going to follow his instructions but we were going to trust God.
He instructed them not to fear but to wait and see God’s power revealed when a healthy baby was born!
The time came for the next quarterly District conference and the crowd had grown in size as the people wanted to see with their own eyes who was stronger; the God of the missionary or the curse of the prophet. Our daughter was barely three weeks old at the time; on the final service of the conference, we brought our “little miracle” with us and I sat on the platform beside Glyn with our baby daughter in a carry-cot beside me. Just before it was time to serve communion Glyn called for the “prophet” to stand up, then he turned and gently picked up our sleeping baby and held her up for all to see.
He did not have to lecture, ridicule or rebuke as the healthy living child in his arms, was all the proof that was needed to strip this charlatan of his power over the people!
God had shown Himself, all powerful in this situation and a valuable lesson was visually learned that God is not mocked by man’s feeble attempts to thwart His power.
This situation was living proof of a promise in God’s Word:
Isaiah 54:17 (NKJV) “No weapon formed against you shall prosper, and every tongue which rises against you in judgment you shall condemn. This is the heritage of the servants of the LORD, and their righteousness is from Me,” says the LORD.
No matter what our situation might be or the heart-ache we might carry; the foundation of our faith must be the UNSHAKEABLE belief that God will see us through since He knows how to frustrate every evil design that the enemy of our soul would plot against us!