The stand of huge Eucalyptus trees that towered over the mission house began to stir as the morning wind gently wafted through the leaves; signaling to our resident troop of monkeys that morning had arrived. It was late October which meant the summer heat was upon us and hopefully soon some good rains would replenish the thirsty earth with its life giving moisture!
It was the weekend so there was no need to vault myself out of bed for the early morning drill to get ready for Dad to drive us to our one roomed school house, in the village of Chatsworth, Rhodesia.
Lazily I lay listening to the monkey troop’s noisy morning chatter; it was time for them to forage for food! Then a different sound drifted in on the wind; it was the throb of distant drums. It was not uncommon for us to hear the drums from some of the African villages that were dotted across the bush on the other side of the rocky granite kopjie (hill). The drums served as a form of primitive communication to the residents of the village as well as to near-by villages. A death; a wedding feast; a call for a tribal “indaba” (discussion); or an alarm of pending danger; all could be conveyed through the beating of the drums. Sometimes the sounds were joyful and sometimes they were muted and sinister. I slipped out of bed, giving my slippers a good shake before I slid my feet into them; as scorpions and some nasty spiders loved to use them as hiding places! The old mission house with its cracked walls and cement floors was a haven for these critters seeking a dark and cool place to escape the burning African sun! So part of our morning ritual was to always check slippers and shoes for uninvited critters that had the capacity of giving you a very painful bite or sting.
During breakfast Dad mentioned that the next day we were going to take the mission truck and head over the rough bush track to one of the villages to hold a church service. I loved going on these trips as there was always some unexpected excitement that the trip into the bush would spring on us. Life was by no means boring for this red-headed missionary’s child as it seemed each day brought a new adventure.
The next morning bright and early; we loaded up the truck with some bags of maize meal, bags of salt and bags of brown sugar to give to our African church elder and his family that lived in the village. As was my custom I rode in the back of the truck with some of our African helpers and joined in their happy singing as we bounced over the apology of a bush track. I loved the smell of the bush; it was distinct and unique. Some trees were still flowering giving off a beguiling fragrance that you never forget.
We finally arrived at the village and already a fairly good sized congregation was waiting for us. There was no church building so we gathered under the shade of a large Masasa tree that afforded us a measure of shade. Off in the distance on the perimeter of the village a single drum began to beat; it signaled to my parents that trouble was brewing. Our Elder explained that everyone was fearful as the witchdoctor had told the villagers that he was going to cast a bad spell on the missionaries and cause them to die, to prove his power was greater that their God. Dad chuckled and told Elder Petros that the witchdoctor was in for a surprise as God would prove Himself faithful to us that day!
The church service went without incident. The brave souls that had gathered lifted their voices in song and the harmony of their song came from their deep devotion to a God who was a God of love and not one to be feared. The hot summer breeze carried the heartfelt melodies into every corner of the village.
I never tired of listening to the Africans sing. They have a gift of beautiful harmony without the aid of any musical instruments. Just the pure blending of joyful voices that to this day is burned deep within the core of my being. Just typing these words for this Nugget floods me with a deep longing to hear those songs in the primitive bush again!
Once the service was over, Elder Petros invited us to sit in the shade of his hut and rest before our journey back to the mission compound. His wife was preparing us a cup of hot tea. While we visited he commented to Dad that nothing sinister had taken place for which he was thankful; Dad agreed with him but assured him that we had no fear for our trust was in God. We began to drink our tea when suddenly Dad, Mom, Petros and I were overcome with acute vertigo. Petros exclaimed in terror: “Mfundisi (teacher or missionary) we have been poisoned! Surely today we will die!” We all immediately poured out what tea was left in our cups. Dad had one of the villagers bring him a mangy village dog and asked for the milk that had been used in our tea to be brought to him. Gently he placed a drop of milk in the dog’s eye and immediately the pupil became dilated, confirming that a certain poisonous fruit had been squeezed into the milk container before it had been brought to Petros’s hut. The drop would not harm the dog but we were in serious danger depending on exactly how much of the poison we had ingested. By now the word had spread and a crowd of the villages had gathered; some terrified their missionary would die before their eyes and others mocking, saying the witchdoctor’s muti (medicine) was stronger than the missionary’s God. To bring a sense of calmness to the gathering crowd Dad stood up and announced that we were going to pray and ask God to stop the poison from harming us. He asked for any villager who believed God could do this to come and gather around us as we prayed. Slowly with timid steps one after another separated themselves from the mocking group and made their stand. Vocally the whole group raised their voices in earnest petition; asking God to protect their missionary family. Then all became silent with every eye in the gathered crowd riveted on our family. We stood up from our chairs and shouted as loud as we could: “God has heard our prayers, we are strong, and the effects of the poison are gone!” Instantly an ecstatic cry went up and the believers began so sing and dance to demonstrate their exultation of the faithfulness of God.
Today the nations of the world are hearing the throb of distant drums. They are not playing a song of freedom and joy but one of fear and war. These are dark days that we are living in BUT WE NEED NOT FEAR! We have the assurance from God’s Word that He will be our shield and protector during times of trouble.
“Be not afraid of sudden fear, neither of the desolation of the wicked, when it cometh. For the Lord shall be thy confidence, and shall keep thy foot from being taken.” Prov. 3:25, 26
When wars and rumors of wars fill our hearing, the Lord tells those who trust in Him not to become alarmed and fearful. He has promised to defend the righteous.
God would have His children manifest courage not fear!
Since the scriptures teach us that the Lord Himself will suddenly come to our defense, we should not then be surprised at anything unexpected.
Serenity under the rush and roar of unexpected evil is a precious gift of divine love.
The Lord would have His children see that the desolation of the wicked is not a real calamity to the universe. Sin alone is evil; the punishment which follows it is as a preserving salt to keep society from putrefying.
So, today be encouraged with this promise; we who trust in the Lord, let us exhibit a quietness of spirit in the face of great adversity.
Satan and his minions are full of all subtlety; but those who walk with God shall not be taken in by their deceitful snares.
Go on………I challenge my readers today; let the Lord be your confidence and all fear be erased.
Proverbs 29:25 (NKJV) The fear of man brings a snare, But whoever trusts in the LORD shall be safe.