Category Archives: Africa Journey

Touching the Face of God

Chimanimani-Mountains

(Chimanimani Mountains – Zimbabwe, Africa)

TOUCHING THE FACE OF GOD

The Eastern Highlands that separate Rhodesia, (Zimbabwe), from Mozambique are appropriately named for their mountainous terrain. The two countries are separated by range after range of majestic mountains. The highest being the great Chimanimani Mountains soaring to the lofty height of 8000 feet above sea level. These “giants” of God’s carvings in the earth, afford the most spectacular views to those who choose to ascend their resplendent heights.
Nestled in one of the valleys of the Eastern Highlands is the border town of Umtali, (Mutare). Umtali was founded in 1897 as a fort, about 5 miles from the border with Mozambique, and is just 180 miles from the Mozambican port of Beira; thus earning Umtali the title of “Zimbabwe’s Gateway to the Sea”.

“Christmas Pass” is the mountain pass that leads into the city from the west. The pass was named by some of the colonial pioneers who camped at the pass on Christmas Day, 1890.
Umtali is where my husband, Glyn grew up.
I was familiar with this area but came to know its magical beauty more intimately once Glyn and I started courting.

There is something about climbing a mountain that is soul stirring, challenging and totally invigorating. The higher you climb, the harder the challenge becomes but the rewards of those higher altitudes far out-weigh the physical pain the climber endures.
For the adventurous climber who endeavored to climb the Chimanimani Mountains, a variety of surreal landscapes awaited them.
Imagine with me what you or I would experience if we were one of these climbers.

When we enter the valley foothills, we see little except the immediate vegetation: the mountain itself appears to be but one-half as high as it really is. Our limited vision is unable to comprehend its soaring height.
Confined in the valley, we discover the glorious splash of color from the indigenous Msasa trees and the refreshing song of the brooks, as they descend into the stream at the foot of the mountain.

Climbing the first rising knoll, we find the valley lengthens and widens beneath our feet. Go higher, and we see the country for four or five miles around, filling us with delight with the ever widening scene. As we keep climbing higher the rocky outcrops present an exhausting challenge that makes us tempted to stop; but the landscape enlarges with such pristine beauty, that it urges us on ever higher.
We must push on until at last we reach the summit, where the ultimate visual reward awaits us.
From the summit we have a clear view of indescribable beauty laying to the east, the west, the north, and the south, unfolding before us.
We can see the veld (bush), spreading its scrub thorn trees in Mozambique from one direction; from another direction we see a waterfall tumbling over craggy rocks into a valley filled with blooming Masasa trees in Rhodesia (Zimbabwe); and yet from another direction we see the smoke drifting on the wind from the village huts along the river’s edge!
From the vantage point of the summit of the Chimanimani Mountains we can literally see two different countries – Mozambique and Zimbabwe! Added to that we are so high that we can reach out and touch the puffy clouds floating by!
YES! The scene from the summit is far greater than we could have ever imagined!

There are lessons from a mountain climber’s perspective that can be applied to our Christian walk.
Our journey and walk with the Lord is somewhat like climbing the Chimanimani Mountains.
When we first become acquainted with the Lord, we have a very little understanding of His Nature.
Then we push higher up the mountain of life discovering that prayer and reading the Word, open the eyes of our soul to more of His Divine nature. The beauty of “His essence” fills our vision and causes our love for Him to grow.
But we must push on in our daily walk until we reach the summit.
We will negotiate deep precipices, jagged rocks that bring pain, exhaustion will become our daily companion. Also we will feel the sting of the taunting scorn of many who say we can’t finish strong…… but we must push on!

Once we reach the summit high above the mists of the plains and the vapors drifting up from the valleys, we begin to see both earthly and heavenly vistas in truer light and our perspective is changed for eternity!
Here we discover the heights and depths of the love of Christ which passes all knowledge!
Yes, from the summit we can “touch the face of God”!

The Apostle Paul, grown old, sitting grey-haired, shivering in a Roman dungeon, could say with greater emphasis than he ever had when he exclaims:

Philippians 3:13-14 (NKJV) “Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead,
I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.”

Weary pilgrim, take a leaf from Paul’s writings; each experience has enhanced your climbing skills and determination.
Each trial has been like ascending another height on the mountain of this life.
To the Apostle Paul his impending death seemed like gaining the summit of the mountain, from which he could see the whole of the faithfulness and the love of God, to whom he had committed his soul.

Are you weary? Keep pressing on!
Are you discouraged? Keep pressing on.
Are you filled with fear about the future? Keep pressing on!
Are you suffering & facing a terminal diagnosis? Kept pressing on!
Are you shattered by betrayal? Keep pressing on!
The list is never ending but by now my readers should understand the heart of this Nugget!

My weary pilgrim companions, PRESS ON, soon we shall reach the summit, the mists that have clouded our vision and the trials that have stalked our steps, will flee away and we will reach out and touch the face of God in eternal adoration, never to leave His glorious Presence again!

 

 

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Surrounded by Angels

African girl cooking

(Makeshift campsite at Women’s Conference)

Psalm 34:7 (NKJV) “The angel of the LORD encamps all around those who fear Him, and delivers them.”

While waiting for news about how my sister, Suzanne Coetzee, is doing, my best therapy is to write another one of our memories of our years in Africa. These memories have a calming effect during my times of anxiety.

Have you ever wondered how many times God has protected you from danger or trouble that you were totally unaware of until it had passed?
I believe this happens to the trusting child of God more often than we realize.
There are times when the Lord allows the curtain of His Divine intervention to be pulled aside and His hand of protection is seen. When we reflect on these times of God’s deliverance it becomes a “memorial stone” that we can re-visit with the mind’s eye and strengthen our faith and trust in the Lord.

Looking back over the many paths Glyn and I have travelled in our journey with God, we have seen this scripture in Psalm 34:7 repeated over and over again. Let me share an example.

My mother, Florence Wilson and I were planning to preach a four day Women’s Conference in a Tribal village called Chiwesha, which was about 70 miles from where we lived.
The height of the terrorist war that was ravaging our beautiful country of Rhodesia/Zimbabwe; but we had not heard of any recent terrorist activity in the area where we planned to go.
With this knowledge in hand, we were determined go ahead with the Conference.

Now in African terms, 70 miles out in the bush means dirt roads, mud huts, and absolutely no modern conveniences such as running water, electricity or telephone service. By our modern standards it would be considered primitive living at best.

Dad, (Willard Wilson) and my hubby, Glyn, hitched the family camper up and after loading, food, water, supplies and all the other necessities for camping in the bush, we headed out.
The camper was very basic – 2 bunk beds, a table and a small gas stove.
We arrived, dusty and shaken from bouncing on the rutted bush roads, but excited to see the ladies arriving. Dad and Glyn set everything up for us, kissed us good-bye and said they would be back for us when the conference was over!
We were totally dependent on God for our protection during these dangerous times.

Near the village was an area that had some trees for shade but good open spaces for the woman to camp in. It was situated beside a granite rocky hill close to the simple & humble building that would serve for our services.
As the morning progressed we would see a cloud of dust in the distance and then we would hear joyful singing coming from a rickety diesel bus, churning its way over the dirt road and loaded to capacity with ladies ready for church!
This scene was repeated over and over until finally about 400 women with children had arrived.
The majority of the women had a baby riding on their back in a cloth “taurie”, and one or two toddlers hanging onto their skirt. As the women arrived they found a spot on the ground, rolled out their sleeping mat, blanket and few cooking utensils, then immediately found some stones and dry sticks and set little campfires going. This would be their “home” for the next four days! Sleeping outside on the ground, with their baby cradled in their arm and toddlers close beside.
It wasn’t long and our camper was completely surrounded by little camp fires and clusters of joyful women, chatting happily to one another.

At the night church services we preached by the light of a single “hurricane lantern”. During the day services (we preached 3 services a day plus our 5:00 AM prayer service), we were thankful for the light of the sun.
I loved the evenings after our night service. Mom and I would walk from camp fire to camp fire, visiting with the women, hugging toddlers and cuddling babies.
The night air was filled with the smell of the smoke from the campfires and the soft calls of the night sounds drifting from the African bush. It was a treasured time of “bonding” with those who God had entrusted to our care.
Then a gentle a song would begin and it spread across the dotted fires like the rolling of the in-coming tide. It wasn’t long that dozens of voices picked up the song, as the women worshipped the Lord who had saved them from a life of heathen worship and bondage.
It was such a beautiful anthem of praise! Mother and I would be lulled into an exhausted sleep carried on the wings of the melody filling the night air.

God met us in a unique way at this conference. Lives were touched, changed and challenged.
At the close of our last service a woman came up to Mom and I and asked that we would pray that God would remove a huge goiter that hung from her neck; it was the size of a melon and was draining the strength from her body.
We held hands and in simple faith asked God to be merciful and show his power.

Once the conference was over Dad and Glyn returned to pick us up and haul the camper back home. We were exhausted but so very thankful for God’s goodness and the lives that had been touched.
Upon arriving home, once everything was unloaded and put away, we were relaxing in our lounge and turned the radio on to listen to the news, just in time to hear a News Alert.
A group of terrorist armed to the teeth with weapons of every kind, had been tracked down by the security forces to the VERY place where we had been holding the conference.
The terrorists had been hiding in the rocky hill that we were camped beside, waiting for the right opportunity to strike. They were so close that they could hear the singing and even much of the preaching from God’s Word!

Why they did not attack us and wreck carnage among a group of unarmed women and children can only be answered by Psalm 34:7!
God surrounded us with His angels and delivered us from the hands of the terrorists.

Three weeks later I was preaching in a near-by area and who should be at the meeting other than this precious lady. Her face radiated the joy of the Lord and the goiter was GONE! She told me that with the passing of each day the goiter began to shrink and by the end of a week it was totally gone!
To God be the glory, great things he has done!

Friends, mother and I are living proof that you can trust in God’s Word and His promises.
He will not fail you no matter what circumstances befall you!
Take courage and stand on Psalm 34:7 today!

Photo: Taken at the Women’s Conference

 

An Eye for Eternity

Birchenough Bridge 1966

Birchenough Bridge, Zimbabwe in 1966 Taken by Glyn Davies

AN EYE FOR ETERNITY

Yesterday our Pastor preached a heart stirring message that impacted me deeply. He challenged us to not allow our desire and focus of our heavenly home to be clouded by the “politically correct fodder” that is spreading like wild-fire, and the desire to amass worldly trappings, in this present life. It is so easy in this modern generation to get side-tracked, following the crowds who choose the “wide path” of ease and self-indulgence.
Musing over Pastor’s challenge last night I was reminded of an incident that brought this truth home to me in living color.

I had been outside pruning some of our bushes, even though it was a very hot and humid day. Now before those of you who know me well, start lecturing me, that I am not meant to be doing this type of work; just remember, I have a very independent streak and am not quite ready for a rocking chair!

Once the heat began to get to me, I came into the house to rest for a few minutes.
Turning on the ceiling fan, I stretched out in my recliner to “re-charge” my strength.
While laying there enjoying the cool air of the fan, I was transported in my “mind’s eye”, back to my childhood years.
I remembered with intense clarity Dad and Mom taking us children to the Hotel at Birchenough Bridge in the Sabi Valley. This was a very dry, hot and inhospitable part of the bush but it had one saving grace. The Sabi River ran through this arid area providing shade and water to the wild life and weary travelers.
This river was spanned by a beautiful single span bridge that for these early pioneer days in Rhodesia, was an engineering feat.
Sprawled on the banks leading up to the bridge was the Birchenough Hotel, which had been built to accommodate curious visitors who came to this very remote area, just to see the wonders of man’s ingenuity.

It just so happened that this area was part of Dad’s District, so we were very familiar with its pristine, primitive surroundings; and was always a highlight for us children when Dad would make at stop at the Hotel and Bridge.

The Birchenough Bridge Hotel was an oasis to escape from the oppressive heat of the day. It had a long veranda that ran around the building. The veranda was lined with ceiling fans and tables to accommodate guests seeking out respite from the relentless heat.
My thoughts carried me back to that moment in time.
I vividly remembered the soft whirl of the fans and the cacophony of sounds from African bush that surrounded us.
Dad and Mom would order tea and cucumber sandwiches and ice cold Cream soda for us children.
I remember seeing the waiters dressed in their crisply starched, white uniforms, walking softly on the concrete floor in their bare feet, delivering our treat of the day.
We would sit and sip our refreshments savoring its wonderful flavor and eat our cucumber sandwiches in total silence.
We were complelely absorbed by the beautiful trills of the song birds and the sounds from the bush; wafting gently to us on the cooling breeze. It seemed that we did not want to break the wonder of the moment with mundane conversation.
Suddenly I was flooded with a yearning to “go back home to that place and time,” as it represented a time of safety, security and peace. The yearning grew with such intensity that I had the sense that if anyone tried to prevent me from returning to “this place of peace and security” I would literally run them over.

This yearning set in motion a far stronger yearning in my heart. The Lord gently reminded me that this is exactly what heaven will be like and that we, as children of God, should have that same driving desire and intensity to make sure nothing stands in our way.
When it is time for us to enter our eternal rest, we will take that quantum step from mortality to immortality without hesitation and a shout of victory!
We, as children of God, need to be so focused on eternity that our vision is not “earth-bound” but “heaven-bound”.
We must not let anything stand in our way, even to the point that if something or someone does impede our eternal focus, we will “run them over”; just as an athlete circumvents the hurdles in the race!
I assure you my friends, Pastor’s morning message was a “tangible experience” for me and a lesson with such intensity, it will not be soon forgotten!
We, as children of God should, live continually with an “eye for eternity” in our focus!

Yes, Hebrews 12:1 & 2 is still in the Book!
Let nothing, absolutely nothing, stand in our way as we run this race that is set before us!

Hebrews 12:1-2 (KJV) “ Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.”

Divine Intervention

2A

(Our family in Durban, South Africa 1982)

DIVINE INTERVENTION

Psalm 46:10 (NKJV) Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!
Isaiah 30:15 (NKJV) In quietness and confidence shall be your strength.”

There are times in our lives when inward stillness before God is absolutely necessary to allow Him to work on our behalf.
I remember with clarity this very lesson, one very scary night, when we were missionaries running the Missions Bible College, in the coastal city of Durban, South Africa. A totally unexpected event unfolded, which had the potential of changing my entire life.

We held day classes in our Bible College but also had evening classes in surrounding communities that were within driving distance of our home base. Due to the political unrest in the area, it was not wise for me to teach any of the night classes – Glyn taught all those classes by himself.

One evening while he was gone to teach our extension class in the small town of Tongaat, situated up the coast from Durban; I decided to turn on the government controlled radio, to listen to the evening news. The news reporter announced that in one of the bedroom communities, whose residents were predominately Asian Indians, was aflame with rioters from a raiding group of an African tribe who despised the Asian Indians.
The raiders were torching homes, overturning cars and setting them on fire with the occupants still inside. By the time this terrible attack was brought under control hundreds of homes had been burnt to the ground, with a large loss of innocent lives.
I sat riveted to the news report as I knew Glyn would be dropping off 3 students in this very community!

It seemed every part of my being throbbed with anxiety; the urge for immediate vigorous action raced with an overpowering sense of urgency through every fiber of my being.
Yet circumstances were such that I could do nothing!
We had no cell phones, plus the humble church building in the coastal town of Tongaat where Glyn was teaching, had no phone.

I called our local police station asking for help only to be told that there was nothing that could be done as the rioting was out of control!
We were totally out of communication with each other and there was no one, other than the Lord, I could turn to.
Our children, Russel & Donna-Mae were old enough to comprehend the severity of the situation.
We held hands and the three of us pleaded with the Lord to keep His Hand of protection on my beloved husband and their father; then all we could do was be still and quiet before the Lord.

For a little while it seemed as if I would fly to pieces from the inward turmoil that was tearing through my being, but I was trying to be “strong” for the sake of the children, so did not share my anxiety with them.
Suddenly a still small voice whispered in the depths of my soul, “Be still, and know that I am God.”
These words filled my anxious heart and flooded through my being like the balm of a spring shower.

Peaceful stillness enveloped me, my troubled spirit became filled with quietness while I waited; trusting God with this situation beyond my control, knowing that in my helplessness He would meet our need.
So, while trusting in His promise, I rested in Him.

It was a lesson I would not soon forget; for I learned that my “strength” was to “sit still”. It was a living stillness born out of trust.
Remember quiet tension is not trust! It is simply compressed anxiety!

Finally our long wait was over when the children and I heard the sound of the car turning into our drive. We raced out into the humid night and threw our arms around a very surprised and confused man! Once in the house we recounted to Glyn what had transpired and peppered him with questions how he escaped the rioters.
He told us that the students he normally would have dropped off in the community where the trouble was, told him after class that they were going to visit a friend. This left Glyn alone and on a “whim” decided to take the much longer coastal road home, as it was a beautiful evening with a full moon. He felt that the drive along the ocean edge would be a refreshing way to end a long hot day.

This is when reality set in and we knew beyond a shadow of a doubt, that the Lord had prompted Glyn to take the longer coastal road home, thus missing the carnage that would have befallen him if he had driven his usual route. Our hearts soared with joy & thankfulness at the goodness of God to our family that memorable night.
Yes, there are times for action but also there are also times for remaining still before God, allowing Him to work His Divine answer to our life situations!

 

My Father’s Legacy

Dad's old loose leaf Bible

My Dad, Willard Wilson’s old Bible.

MY FATHER’S LEGACY

Several weeks ago my younger sister in England, Carolyn Harvey, surprised me with a gift that can only be considered “totally priceless”.
Glyn and I had spent the morning cancelling some of the “frills” that our society here in America take for granted. Our budget continues to shrink so we were taking steps to scale back and remove some the “trappings” of modern life.
On our way back home I was lost in thought with a sense of sadness, thinking that we had poured our lives out to spread the Gospel and now were reduced to “pinching pennies”!
As we turned into our driveway I noticed a package laying on our front step. I knew we were not expecting any deliveries so quickly scooped it up to see who the sender was. Imagine my amazement when I saw it had come from my younger sister.
I thought that maybe she had sent me some good British tea but the package seemed too heavy.

Like a child on Christmas morning, I could not get the tightly taped package open quickly enough! With anticipation mounting, I gently removed the bubble wrap that my mysterious gift was wrapped in.
What happened next is very hard to express in words!

The realization that I was standing in my dining room holding my Dad’s old “loose leaf” Bible in my hands, literally sucked the breath out of me. I had no idea that this Bible had survived the upheaval of our lives in Africa as a family.
I stared in stunned amazement at what I was holding in my hands and kept saying repeatedly to Glyn; “I am holding Dad’s Bible that he preached from in Africa, in my hands”!

With trembling fingers I, I opened the sacred book, starting to leaf through the pages.
I was not prepared for the flood of emotions that began to wash over me. An avalanche of memories began to fill my being.
You see, this was not just one of Dad’s many Bibles, as he had many, but this one was unique because it was a loose leaf Bible. Dad had filled it with sermons and accounts of God’s provision, written in His own hand! As a child and teenager I had heard him preach many of these very sermons.

Now understand, my nature is a very practical one and mystical events usually get put on the “back burner” in my spiritual walk. Yet, as I hugged the Bible close to my heart I felt as though I could feel the throb of my Dad’s heart and the very essence of his love for me.

From a small child Dad was my hero. Growing up on Mission stations in the bush of Africa, I was his constant shadow. He was well aware that his feisty red-headed daughter, had a driving will power that, if harnessed correctly, could be used by God. This resulted in a close connection between my father and me. I inherited a lot of his character and he “understood” me so completely.

Dad, and mother, I might add; were living models of pouring out their lives, without regard of the extreme primitive living, dangers from wildlife, being targets of hate from heathen leaders or hardships experienced living in a primitive country. To them these were just “bumps in the road, as their sole focus was to carry the Gospel to unreached tribes.

Once I was able to Skype my sister I asked her what had prompted her to part with such a family treasure, especially seeing I was unaware she had managed to salvage it. Her response moved me deeply. She told me that one morning, she was sorting out some boxes she had stored, when she came across Dad’s Bible. Instantly a strong sense permeated her being and she felt a prompting to, “send me Dad’s Bible, as she felt I needed it this point in my life”!
She was totally unaware of our activities the day the Bible arrived. Carolyn said she just felt strongly that God wanted to use Dad’s Bible to let me know that He, God, would take care of us!

Please do not misunderstand me – I am NOT endorsing the worship of sacred places or objects!
To me this Bible represents the Godly legacy and heritage my Dad imprinted on me from a child!
He lived by the teachings of the Word of God to the letter, never flinching even in the face of ridicule or danger.

Each time I sit and soak in Dad’s handwritten thoughts I am reminded of Joshua instructions to the children of Israel when they crossed the Jordan.

Joshua 4:4-7 (NKJV) “Then Joshua called the twelve men whom he had appointed from the children of Israel, one man from every tribe; and Joshua said to them: “Cross over before the ark of the LORD your God into the midst of the Jordan, and each one of you take up a stone on his shoulder, according to the number of the tribes of the children of Israel, that this may be a sign among you when your children ask in time to come, saying, ‘What do these stones mean to you?’ Then you shall answer them that the waters of the Jordan were cut off before the ark of the covenant of the LORD; when it crossed over the Jordan, the waters of the Jordan were cut off. And these stones shall be for a memorial to the children of Israel forever.”

Dad’s Bible is like a “memorial stone” to me. It challenges me to leave my own “memorial stones” as encouragement to those who come after me.
I have been given a rich spiritual legacy and my prayer is that my life will reflect this Legacy to our children and those who cross my path.

 

 

 

 

 

Protection from Helicopters

My beautiful picture

(Rhodesian Air Force Alouette Helicopters –September 1976)

Hot Springs Resort……… I am sure for most Rhodesians, this is a place of many sweet memories! Camping under the stars, or in tents, or in caravans (campers) or if you had the money to spend, staying in the Hotel Chalets. No matter what your accommodations were, one thing you could count on; the mosquitoes were as big as horseflies and as hungry as vampire bats, the searing low veld heat was relentless, evening meals cooked over the open fire tasted better than anything you could buy at a 5 star restaurant. But the most delightful memory was soaking in the hot sulfur water in the pool until your legs turned to rubber, then wobbling your way back to camp and sleeping like a baby. So much laughter, new friends made, sunburned limbs and noses, all created in a rural rustic get-away hidden in the middle of the Rhodesian low veld! As a child, my family visited Hot Springs, as a holiday place of choice. Glyn and I spend an idyllic honeymoon staying in the Hotel accommodations and then we returned on several occasions, for camping trips, with our children.

In September 1976 we headed for Hot Springs after an exhausting annual Conference that was held at Rufaro Mission. Shortly before this we had bought a second-hand Gypsy caravan. It was very basic – just a table, sleeping bunks and a few storage cupboards, but it kept us off the ground and it was dry in the heavy downpours. We had a canopy that we attached where I set up my “kitchen” with a table and a two burner Coleman gas stove, plus we would “braai” our meat over an open fire. 

 

On this particular visit our son was five years old and our daughter was just five months old. While shopping at O.K. Bazaars I had found an adorable yellow polka dot two piece swimming suit that was perfect for the baby. She still had “peach fuzz” for hair, so I concluded that putting her in a little two piece swimming suit would show she was a baby girl. One morning before it became too hot to be out in the baking sun, I was standing in the shallow end of the pool with the baby in my arms, just bouncing her little legs in the warm steamy water. A lady made her way across the pool to me and commented on what a “beautiful baby BOY” I had! REALLY lady, are you serious?  I chuckled and told her that actually the baby was a girl; thus the reason for the “itsy bitsy yellow polka dot bikini”!  Unfortunately my attempt at not so subtle humor was lost on the lady! 

 

Each day melted into the next as we enjoyed making memories with our children. One afternoon while we were seeking a good spot in the shade to escape the rays of the burning sun, a different sound intruded on the siesta hour of the campground. It was the distinct sound of the propellers of helicopters that became louder and louder until we realized that three Rhodesian Air Force Alouette helicopters were landing in an open space right in the campground.

This caused quite a stir amongst the campers; after all it is not every day that three helicopters with loaded gun turrets, land in your back yard! Naturally in a matter of minutes our brave soldiers in their bush camouflage were greeted by curious campers. Our son was in his glory as he was able to get up close to the machines of his dreams, while the soldiers showed friendly appreciation to their gawking admirers’. My beautiful picture

(Our son, Russel & cousin, Debbie enjoying the helicopters)

The leader of the group explained that they had received a tip that a group of terrorists were hiding somewhere in the bush very close to Hot Springs, so they felt their presence would be a deterrent for an ambush on the campers and guests in the Hotel.

I assure you we ALL were very grateful for our “protecting angels” who dropped out of the sky, especially as darkness began to creep in. The terrorist war was ramping up and Hot Springs would be such an easy “soft target” because of its fairly remote location in the bush.

 

The next day the helicopters took off and we later heard on the news that contact had been made and they had successfully routed the group of terrorists from their hiding place and captured them. We were so thankful to these brave young men who fought long and hard to protect the citizens of Rhodesia, both black and white! Many of them made the ultimate sacrifice and gave their lives while loyally serving their country.  

So many times during our years in Rhodesia we experienced God’s protection. Sometimes it was through human intervention, as was the case at Hot Springs, other times we could only believe that God miraculously intervened.

 

I wonder how many times you and I have avoided a catastrophic event without ever knowing it because God stepped in behind the scenes? I believe firmly that God has been and will continue to be involved in the events of our lives even when we don’t recognize His Presence.

This should give us a calm re-assurance in these turbulent times. If fear of what the future holds is stalking your every hour then take heart, God has promised His Presence and protection.

 

Draw strength my friends from the promises in Psalm 121 – allow the words of this Psalm to permeate your very being and throw your trust upon the One who has the power, to deliver each one of us.

 

Psalm 121:1-8 (NKJV) “I will lift up my eyes to the hills– From whence comes my help?  

My help comes from the LORD, Who made heaven and earth.

He will not allow your foot to be moved; He who keeps you will not slumber.

Behold, He who keeps Israel shall neither slumber nor sleep.

The LORD is your keeper; The LORD is your shade at your right hand.

The sun shall not strike you by day, nor the moon by night.

The LORD shall preserve you from all evil; He shall preserve your soul.

The LORD shall preserve your going out and your coming in;

From this time forth, and even forevermore.”

 

 

 

A Ranger & an Elephant

Elephant at Mana by Marlon du Toit

(Photo by Marlon du Toit – used with permission.)

Anyone that has followed my Nuggets or seen many of my posts and pictures on Face Book can quickly see that I have a long standing love affair with African elephants. Apart from the obvious fact that I was born in Southern Rhodesia (Zimbabwe), I lived in an era when the country had not yet been tainted by the trappings of the modern world.
I grew up knowing what it was to see these magnificent animals plus many other African animals, in their natural pristine wild setting. As a teenager and subsequent years I read everything I could get my hands on about the character, personality and habits of Elephants; the more I studied them the more I fell in love with them. It goes without saying that these are unique and highly intelligent animals that continually amaze the naturalists that study them.

This Nugget was passed onto me from a friend, who served in the security forces in Rhodesia. I am sharing it because it is a prime example of the nature and intelligence of African elephants.
The setting of this experience took place when the terrorist war in Rhodesia was ratcheting up; heinous and brutal attacks on innocent farmers, villagers, children and missionaries were being perpetrated by bands of roving terrorists.
As missionaries we had been targeted on several occasions. They were even returning to their own villages and killing their own families. It was a time of carnage, heart-ache and tension for our beloved country. The setting for this account takes place in a wilderness sanctuary called Mana Pools.
To any Rhodesian, this place will evoke warm memories of camping or staying in a lodge with so many species of wild-life moving freely in the bush, within sight of the camps. Mana Pools is well known for its elephant population.
Due to the ever increasing problem with poaching, there was a good Game Ranger contingency that patrolled the Mana Pools area daily. Many patrolled on foot and others patrolled with Land Rovers. One of the Game Rangers; who for the purpose of this account I will call “Boet” (to protect the identity of the family), was assigned the perimeter patrol.
He daily did his forays into the deep bush in his trusty bush scarred Land Rover. He carried a radio for communications with base camp, a high powered rifle and the obligatory canvas water bag; that hung on the front of the vehicle providing a source of cool water.
One day he was in a more remote part of the Reserve and he stopped under the shade of an Acacia tree to eat his sandwiches. The serenity of his resting place was disrupted by the entrance of a rather agitated young bull elephant. It would seem he had parked in this particular spot the elephant used for his afternoon siesta!
Boet gently released the clutch and moved a short distance away where he could observe the elephant in relative safety. He appeared alone; probably a young bull that had been kicked out of the herd as he was getting too big and it was time for him to be separated by the matriarch elephant from the babies. Once he moved the elephant relaxed and stood contentedly; while keeping a wary eye on the human intruder. Finally Boet drove off to finish his rounds and headed back to base camp.

Day after day this scenario was repeated! Boet would park under the tree and within a few minutes, his new found friend would arrive letting him know he needed to move!
Over time the elephant became relaxed and comfortable with this strange smelling machine and its human occupant! So Boet decided to try an experiment and slowly got out of the Land Rover and simply stood still beside it. The first couple of times the elephant became agitated but slowly he relaxed and would stand resting under the shade of the tree with what now was his human companion. Weeks passed and Boet gradually built a trust with the elephant, to the point of tossing him dog biscuits which he downed with relish.
Even though Boet had developed a comfortable relationship with the elephant, he did not try touching him as he did not want him becoming too trusting of humans, for fear he would easily become a poacher’s victim.

One morning he was asked to check an area that was not on his normal patrol route, as there had been some reports of a possible poacher camp. Boet headed out bumping along as he followed the animal trails. He reached the area in question and his keen “bush sense” told him something was wrong. The calls of birds, chirping of crickets…..all normal sounds of the African bush had fallen silent and there was an uneasy air prevailing strong enough to give Boet the goose-bumps.
His eyes scanned the tangled bushes then without warning, all hell broke loose. Boet had actually driven into a camp of a band of terrorists and not poachers, as he was expecting.
Four men came out of the undergrowth with their AK 47 assault rifles blazing; Boet was out gunned and outnumbered! As he tumbled from the Land Rover crawling on his belly to hide behind it, he frantically radioed base camp for help, and then began to fire back knowing that it was highly unlikely help could arrive before these four men took him out. If he was going down he was going to go down with a fight! Bullets were flying and hitting the Land Rover, Boet took a hit in the leg but was determined not to give up when suddenly silence reigned.

What had happened? Why had the terrorists not finished him off?
The shriek of an enraged elephant gave him his answer.
Out of nowhere the elephant that Boet had developed a friendship with, came charging through the bush and straight for the terrorists who dropped their weapons and fled for their lives!
Boet was shaking so hard with his brush with death that it took a few minutes to regain his composure. He pulled off his belt and made a tourniquet to staunch the bleeding, then propped himself up against the land rover hoping the ranger team would arrive soon as he could not defend himself if the terrorists came back.
Then the elephant did a strange thing; instead of continuing to chase the fleeing men, he came back and silently stood right beside the disabled vehicle and his injured human friend. He made no attempt to leave; just standing guard until a Patrol of Rangers arrived. Then silently, the elephant melted into the bush as though he knew his duty to Boet was done.

Why had the elephant come when he did as this was not their normal meeting place?
How did he know his kind human friend was in trouble and badly needed help?
I have no answers to these questions but it shows the amazing level of intelligence of these magnificent animals and the result of a trust that had been forged between the Ranger and a wild elephant. Amazingly Boet never ever encountered his wild friend again.

One thing I have learned in my journey with God is that many times God will meet our immediate need from the most unlikely sources!
He has promised His trusting children Divine protection! An example of this promise is:

Psalm 91:11 (NKJV) “For He shall give His angels charge over you, to keep you in all your ways.”

That hot day in the Mana Pools wilderness, God sent an “angel” in the form of an elephant to save Boet from being killed by evil men!

This gives me courage to face my tomorrows no matter how foreboding they appear, for I have a Divine friend who is walking beside me and who is greater than any enemy, or evil plan, that would harm me!
Yes, in today’s world, the “out-look” may be bleak; but I assure you the “up-look” is bright!

Let me close with God’s promise to Joshua of old, which still stands true today.

Joshua 1:9 (NKJV) “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and of good courage; do not be afraid, nor be dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go.”