Distant Drums

African-Village-Life-Aiye-oko

Village in Rhodesia

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.

 

Advertisements

Lessons from a Silkworm

(Life cycle of a silkworm)

LESSONS FROM A SILKWORM

I wonder how many of my readers kept silkworms as a hobby, when they were young.
As a child and early teenager, living in Rhodesia, I was among a host of avid silkworm keepers! Mom learned to her cost never to check the contents of random boxes I might have in my bedroom; as there was no telling what “creepy crawly” she would find.
I had an insatiable appetite to investigate, to study, to observe and to collect everything that nature had to offer me. The African veld was my classroom and there was no shortage of specimens just waiting to captivate my ever curious mind!

As soon as the Mulberry trees produced their lush spring leaves, I would prepare a shoe box with some holes for air then add some fresh leaves and several dozen silkworm eggs, which were ready to hatch. The moment the eggs started hatching my work began. Daily I would replenish the mulberry leaves as the tiny worms were voracious eaters. They grew at an amazing rate; the bigger they got the more leaves they required. Once they developed to a larger size you could actually hear them munching on the leaves. I kept the shoe box in my bedroom, so I could keep an eye on their need for fresh foliage.
Once full grown the worms would start spinning a cocoon of delicate silk around their own bodies until they were totally encased. At this stage the worms turns into a pupae which is the next stage in their development.

It takes about 2 – 3 weeks for the pupa to metamorphose into an adult moth. The fully developed moth eats a small hole in the cocoon and slowly with MUCH effort squeezes its way out of the confining shell to freedom. The process of literally forcing its body through the small opening has a purpose. The pressure of forcing its way out facilitates the needed inner pressure to cause the wings to open. Without this stage of development the moth will have deformed wings.

I have painted this picture for you as it is an example of our walk with God in life’s journey.
There are many stages we all go through in life.
There will be times of plenty when provision and needs are easily met without too much effort on our part. We feast on the goodness of God and draw nourishment from His Word.

Then something happens, circumstances beyond our control causes us to feel isolated, so we spin a web of protection around ourselves and stay in our “cocoon” to prevent enemies from hurting us.
During the time spent in our “cocoon” is when we actually need to be drawing strength from the “food of God’s Word” that we feasted on during our time of plenty.
We are in a season of waiting and change!

The time will come to emerge from our “cocoon” and get back into the battle of life. This is where many become discouraged and lose heart, thinking that they might as well give up trusting God and just quit!
Before we quit and give up in discouragement though, we need to consider the long and difficult process by which the silkworm emerged from its cocoon.
If we try to rush God’s purpose and process in our life, we will only produce something deformed – something that can’t get off the ground and fly spiritually.

Perhaps this Nugget has struck a chord in your heart. Maybe you are thinking, “I can’t wait for this to be over.” That’s understandable and very normal, so don’t beat yourself up!
Job had the same thoughts during his time of deep suffering but he drew from the well of his faith in God. He said, “All the days of my hard service I will WAIT, till my CHANGE comes.” (Job 14:14)
By God’s grace Job’s faith was rewarded and he ended up with twice as much as he had lost.

So my friends…………. hold on………….the time of your change is coming! God won’t give up on you, so don’t give up on Him!
Take the example of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego who told the heathen king, “We will not bow down to you” (Da 3:18).
Learn from their example!
Don’t bow to temptation, or to manipulation, or to ungodly persuasion.
Don’t try to keep up with the Joneses, or surrender to selfish ambition and self-promotion.
Don’t bow to the spirit of anxiety and impatience.
Don’t give up but WAIT PATIENTLY!

Let me encourage each reader of this Nugget………Continue to walk by faith and not by sight, knowing that “[God] is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all we are able to ask or think” (Eph 3:20).
They say, “Good things come to those who wait.” God has a purpose for us during the time of waiting and change.
God will make the pieces of the puzzle of our life, fit together. His plans for you and I will not disappoint us, so we have nothing to fear!

A CANDLE, A SHOE AND A SNAKE

Mission Jeep of many parts-used 1953-1955 parts(Glyn. Henry and Dad, Willard Wilson beside the old Mission Jeep)

Psalm 91 was a reality more than once in our years in Africa.
This Nugget is a memory from the period in Rhodesia when Glyn and I were doing missionary work alongside my parents, Willard & Florence Wilson.

We as a family, my Dad, mother, younger sister Carolyn, younger brother Henry, Glyn and I, loaded up our trucks and made the long journey to Gobatema mission station, in the Tuli Tribal Trust Lands. For the men to do some much needed repairs to the ancient Mission Jeep, and to check on the mission school.

This was the mission station where I was born and was deep in the bush, totally isolated from civilization, it was extremely primitive with no electricity or running water in the ram-shackled mission houses.
Leopards would regularly prowl the compound in the night hours; snakes and an assortment of tropical creepy crawlies, plus 120 degree heat, were our constant companions!
Twenty seven years later the living conditions at the mission station was still the same as it was in my formative years!

After a very dusty, spine rattling journey we finally arrived at dusk and settled in one of the less dilapidated mission houses for the night.
Carolyn and I were sleeping in a room that served as a bedroom/office. Dad and Mom had the main bedroom; Glyn and Henry were sleeping on low camp cots in the living room.

I was disturbed in the night, so lit the candle by my bed only to find a snake curled up by my slippers. I woke my sister and ask her to help me kill the snake.
I was concerned that it would crawl into the sleeping bags where Glyn and Henry were sleeping; as their camp cots were just a few inches off the cement floor.
Carolyn took one look at the snake, pulled her blankets tighter around her and promptly became my “cheer-leader”. She had no intentions of getting mixed up in this fight!!

So I gingerly stepped out of bed grabbed the only thing I could reach, which turned out to be my shoe and as hard as I could, I pounded the unsuspecting snake on the head.
Then in a moment of brilliant “feminine logic”, I pounded the other end of the now writhing snake in case I had mistaken its tail for its head!
Glyn and Henry were awakened by the noise and asked if we were killing mosquitoes; I informed them that I was killing a snake!
Much laughter ensued to my announcement and our two “knights in shining armor” rolled over and went back to sleep!

The next morning the guys told Mom about our “imagined” night visitor; she came running into the room asking what I did with the snake. Rubbing sleep from my eyes I pointed under the desk where I had “stashed” my trophy until morning light; but on closer inspection the snake was gone!
After much teasing and tormenting over breakfast we came to the conclusion that in the night one of the large numerous geckos, that ran freely on the rafters, (the house had no ceilings just rough rafters), had found the dead snake and hauled it away for a midnight snack.

As humorous as this event was, it was one of the many examples in our lives of the verses of Psalm 91 in action! For me, Psalm 91:13-14 was a reality that night.

Psalm 91:13-14 (NKJV) “You shall tread upon the lion and the cobra, The young lion and the serpent you shall trample underfoot. “Because he has set his love upon Me, therefore I will deliver him; I will set him on high, because he has known My name.”

So my friends, in this day of terrible evil THERE IS A PLACE OF SAFETY for the child of God.
Do not allow fear to rule in your hearts during these difficult times.
According to Hebrews 10, we have an open invitation to run into the presence of our Lord and dwell in the secret place under His wings at the mercy seat.
This is where God meets with us, where His glory is revealed to us, where He gives us guidance and shows us His will. His shadow is a strong protection!

Rest in this knowledge, as He has promised us a place of safety, security and peace in any situation that impacts our lives!
Today hold onto this promise that the Lord gave us:

John 14:27 (NKJV) Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.

 

 

A DOWRY FOR A CHURCH

(Church in Tuli Tribal Trust Land, village)

The early missionaries to Southern Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe) faced circumstances that this modern generation can’t even begin to relate to. One of the reasons I am committed to writing these Nuggets of how God manifested His power and love to the primitive tribes that my parents, Willard and Florence Wilson and then Glyn and I ministered to; is to record the “ Acts of God” in these early days of spreading the Gospel.

Once again the mission compound was a hive of activity. The old mission truck was being loaded up with an assortment of camping gear, medical supplies, water supplies, food supplies and even grain bags of ground corn meal to give to the villagers. Dad and Mom were taking a trip to a remote village in the bush. Several families in that village had travelled on foot through the bush to come to some services that had been held in our “brush arbor” church that we had at Gobatema Mission. They returned to their village full of joy; sharing the news with the rest of the villagers about this “new God” that had a heart full of love. He was not like their heathen gods who held them captive with fear.
The result was that the Chief sent a messenger asking the “white missionary” to visit the village and tell him about this “strange God”.

I loved going on these camping trips into the bush. It was a great adventure into the wild unknown! We never knew what we would find around the next bush or dry riverbed we were bouncing through. This was prime leopard country, lion country, snakes paradise, plus a whole assortment of antelope and the usual variety of creepy-crawlies! Each hour we travelled brought a new set of challenges; flat tire #2; getting stuck trying to negotiate a rocky gully and exciting encounters with wild animals.
We finally arrived at the village as the sun was starting to drop below the horizon, sending streaks of crimson hues racing across the sky.
The traditional ceremonial greetings would have to wait as we were fast losing light and needed to set up camp before total darkness engulfed us. The African helpers we brought along, got busy making a campfire and constructing a makeshift “kitchen” from rickety poles cut from near-by trees, with a tarpaulin stretch across them.
We would sleep on the back of the big truck for our protection from wild animals and a fire would be kept going all night to deter any curious, leopards, lions or hyenas from coming into camp.
Each individual had their assigned task which they focused on.

Finally the frantic activity ceased, camp was set up. The warmth from the dancing flames of our campfire and the soft yellow light from the “hurricane lanterns” brought a sense of security and an air of tired relaxation began to settle in as the sounds and smells of the evening meal being prepared, wafted across the night air.

Suddenly a faint flickering light pierced the darkness, slowly coming closer to our camp. We had visitors! A delegation of the village elders had arrived to greet us. They squatted on their haunches in a semi-circle in total silence, until Dad greeted them in their dialect.
I sat fascinated at the scene unfolding before me; lengthy cordial greetings were exchanged; finally the purpose of their visit was revealed.
The Chief requested the presence of the “white missionary” the next morning when the sun was just above the trees; so that he could explain to the gathered villagers about the missionary’s God.
Dad knew this was only just the beginning of a long dialogue that could last well over a week.

We had come well equipped for the long haul, so we settled down for the night. I snuggled on my camping mattress, listening intently to the sounds of the African bush permeating the darkness of the African night. The drifting smoke from the camp fire mingled with the calls of night animals enveloped me like a warm blanket. These night sounds held no terror for me as I loved the bush and no matter how primitive our camping conditions might be; this was home! I drifted off to sleep to the calls of a troop of Bush babies and the gentle musical hooting of an owl in a nearby tree.

The next morning after breakfast, we gathered at the appointed meeting place and the discussions began in earnest. Dad shared the simple truths of the Gospel in terms these primitive people could understand; he was well aware that we were the first “white-skins” most of the people had ever seen. It was imperative we win their trust, if they were to believe the message we were carrying.
Several days passed with the villagers gathering to “hear more” of the missionary’s words.

While the adults were hanging onto the words that Dad and Mom were sharing, the African children were totally intrigued with me! Not only did I have white skin but my hair was the color of “red hot embers”. Each morning, I would sit on a stool while Mom brushed my unruly curls and then braided my hair and without fail there would be a crowd of giggling children watching!

Finally the time arrived for us return to the Mission Station and Dad knew that he did not want to leave without a promise from the Chief, that he would grant us a piece of ground to build a small church on, for the new congregation to worship in. One of our mission-trained deacons was going to remain in the village and continue to minister to the villagers.
Dad requested a formal audience with the Chief and his advisors and presented his desire to build a church. The chief’s response took the wind out of Dad’s sails! He said he would be happy to allow a church to be built in his village PROVIDED Dad agreed to sell ME as a “child-bride” for his young son. He sweetened his offer by saying that he was willing to pay 350 head of cattle as the “Labola” (dowry) for me because of my FIERY RED HAIR. This represented a huge bride price……. An offer that normally would never be rejected………….now what was Dad to do?

Dad realized he was treading on ground where even angels fear to tread. If he rejected the chief’s offer out of hand it could result in hostilities that would fracture what little trust we had built with the Chief and villagers. On the other hand he was not about leave his five-year old red-head to be kept as a “child-bride’!
He sat silent for a while, asking God to give him the words of wisdom to answer the Chief’s offer. Then using a parable style picture that the Chief could relate to; Dad explained our western “customs of marriage versus the tribal customs” showing clearly that he would anger “our elders” if he agreed to the Chief’s offer.
God was in his reply as the Chief fully understood what Dad was attempting to explain. He bowed in respect to Dad’s desire to not betray the “white missionary’s” custom. The tension was immediately broken, smiles were breaking out on the faces of the listeners, hands were shaken and the Chief gave his official nod for a church building to be built and our deacon to hold church services.

The result of this visit was that the Chief, his family and most of the villagers accepted the teachings of the Word of God and a thriving church flourished in that place of darkness.
I am reminded of the Lord’s words to Peter:

Matthew 16:18-19 (NKJV) And I also say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it. And I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.”

It is amazing what unlikely events or things God will use to accomplish His plans for the life of His children! In Dad’s case, God used his feisty re-headed daughter to accomplish His Divine plan for the remote African village.
Let me encourage your hearts today. Never under-estimate what God can do in your life and what lengths He will go to, in answer to your prayers!

God’s Way of Escape -Part 2

Rhodesian hutch
Family Rhodesian Hutch
On Monday this week I posted our experience of laying Glyn’s Dad, Idris Davies, to his eternal rest in Zimbabwe. Today’s Nugget is the second part to that experience.
Through-out this heart-breaking time we experienced “God’s fingerprints” on everything we went through. His promises are so very true:
Psalm 5:11-12 (NKJV) “But let all those rejoice who put their trust in You; Let them ever shout for joy, because You defend them; Let those also who love Your name Be joyful in You. For You, O LORD, will bless the righteous; With favor You will surround him as with a shield.”

Following the funeral we met with the government official who was assigned to deal with Dad Davies Estate. We needed to make arrangements for all the legal paperwork, including the disposal of the contents of Dad’s home.
What a shock awaited us when we sat down with the official, firstly because he actually happened to be a close friend of ours from our teenage years in Rhodesia.
Secondly we were shaken to the core by the stunning news he shared with us.
Malcolm told us that the Zimbabwean government required him to “seal” the house from ANY family members and only he was allowed to enter the house and take inventory of its contents.
Once he completed his inventory, then government officials would hold a public auction and sell off the entire contents of the home, keeping the money in the corrupt government’s coffers!
None of this made any sense to us, as the house was filled with many family keepsakes that would mean nothing to a stranger; such as family pictures etc. Added to that there were legal documents, birth certificates, marriage certificate, death certificates etc. that Glyn really needed, as the surviving eldest son.
Exhaustion and grief had already invaded our emotions and now it seemed the hand of a cruel corrupt government was dealing us the final blow. Tears began to flow as the reality of the harsh facts began to register in our already numbed emotions.

Malcolm lovingly comforted us and told us to wipe our tears, as he had made “certain arrangements” with a farmer in Sinoia who was an elder in Dad Davies congregation.
He instructed us that he would “turn his back for three days”, to enable us to go into Dad’s home and retrieve documents and a few items that would fit in the trunk of our car. He warned us to be cautious what we took though, to prevent causing suspicion by the Zimbabwean officials at the Beit Bridge border crossing, when we crossed back into South Africa.
We already knew that these officials were ruthless and as corrupt as the government they were a part of. It was nothing for them to single out an innocent family returning home to South Africa and subject this family to hours are having everything in their vehicle pulled out and examined and then fine them heavily, on some “illicit trumped up charges”!
So we knew we would be skating on very thin ice when we crossed the border back into South Africa.
We picked up our two children from a friend’s home and headed to Sinoia and the farm of the church elder. When we arrived, Boet (name changed for the family’s protection), and his wife greeted us with open arms, as though we were longtime friends.
After getting us settled in the rooms we would sleep in, we had a refreshing cup of tea before heading to the sad task at hand, waiting for us in Dad’s home.
Boet suggested we leave the two children back on the farm, so they would not have to witness the heart wrenching experience that Glyn and I were about to be involved with.
He and his wife were the epitome of compassion doing everything they could think of to ease our pain. Word had spread among the farm workers of the reason for our visit and quickly several arrived at the farm house asking to take the two children out to see the lambs, calves and even horseback riding, to help demonstrate their concern and care for us. This proved to be a very wise move as the children had a wonderful time embraced by the loving care of the African workers.
Arriving at Dad’s home and stepping into the silent living room literally sucked the air out of me. I sat on the sofa that had a crocheted afghan lying over the back. I had crocheted it as a gift for my mother-in-law several years earlier. Everywhere we looked were tender memories of precious happy times we had spent together as a family. By now Glyn and I could not staunch the flow of tears at the great loss we were dealing with. Boet comforted us with his presence and then helped us re-focus on the task at hand. Glyn went into Dad’s office and began to collect all the legal documents he could find along with family Bibles, including Dad’s personal Bible with sermon notes between the pages. This was a treasure not to be lost!
While Glyn was sorting in the office, Boet walked with me from room to room to see if there were any personal items that we could carry in the limited space in our car.
I was not aware that in my numbed emotional state, I kept walking back to the dining room and running my hand over a tea wagon that had been hand-made in Britain and given to my In-laws as a wedding present. So it actually was an antique that held many memories.
Another item I kept going back to was a Rhodesian Oak Dining Room hutch that had belonged to my parents and then was given to Glyn’s parents, so it had been in both families’ history.
I kept saying over and over that I could not believe we were losing these family “treasures”.
The whole time Boet was a stalwart of compassion and help. Taking care of what to do with the two dogs and the faithful African couple who had been caring for Dad since Mom had passed away. Once we had finished all we could do we headed back to the farm. Boet suggested that we rest while his wife was preparing supper, which we welcomed as our exhaustion was now more than we could bear.
While we were resting Boet, quickly rounded up a group of his farm workers and big farm truck and returned to the house. They loaded the tea wagon and the hutch along with a large wooden crate filled with power tools that Glyn had given his Dad and secretly brought them back to the farm, unbeknown to us. During our visit with them he never let us know about his secret return to Dad’s house.
The out-pouring of love that Boet and his wife showered on us was a balm to our raw emotions.
After resting on the farm for one more day, we headed back to South Africa to resume our missionary duties; closing the door of that chapter of our lives, never hearing again what happened to the contents of Dad’s home. The corrupt government not only seized the contents of the family home but also froze all the funds and small inheritance Dad had left in his will. The small inheritance would be paid out over a period of 12 years and with the devaluation of the Zimbabwe dollar the money we received, did not even amount to “chunk change” many individuals carry in their pockets!
Our last journey through our beloved Rhodesia was a hard one. We kept passing familiar landmarks, African villages where we had ministered, places where we had stopped and had picnics with our children under the majestic Baobab trees. It seemed that tender memories a-waited us around every bend in the road! The sights and sounds of the African bush was seared deeply into our hearts, never to be forgotten.
As we approached the border crossing, we set our “hearts as a flint” determined to focus on the new ministry in Durban, South Africa that God had placed us in! No looking back but looking ahead on the path God was leading us!
Several months later we received a phone call from Swift Transport Company informing us they had a delivery to make. We had absolutely no idea what it was, so waited impatiently for the truck to arrive. Imagine our stunned amazement when we discovered the delivery was the dining room hutch and crate of tools! Hardly able to contain our excitement, we gently removed the packing from the hutch; only to find another surprise waiting for us. Inside the hutch was the disassembled tea wagon!
How could this be?
We saw on the shipping label the items had come from an unknown person living near Johannesburg, so we put in a phone call to try and unravel the mystery. The gentleman that answered explained that he and his wife had been members of the congregation that Dad Davies served and they had just immigrated to South Africa. They had to get permission from the Zimbabwean government for every item of furniture they took with them and they were not allowed DUPLICATES. When Boet knew they were leaving he asked if they had any of the items that he had taken from Dad’s house. They didn’t; so Boet asked them to transport these items with their furniture and then gave them the money to ship them to us in Durban! So all was not lost! God had been faithful to His promises!
Both our friend, Malcolm and the Rhodesian farmer risked their own lives out of a heart of compassion for us, who had become innocent victims of a very corrupt government.
They demonstrated the heart found in true Rhodesians and were a living testimony of the heart of the Lord.
Each time I dust the treasured tea wagon and the hutch my heart is filled with gratitude and I whisper a prayer that God would bless Malcom, Boet and his wife, for their acts of true compassion.
Tea wagon

Family hand-made British tea cart

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

God’s Way of Escape – Part 1

(Warren Hills Cementary, Zimbabwe – the final resting place of Dad Davies & our son, Gary Anthony)

This past week-end we had our Missions Convention at the church we attend – Battlefield Assembly of God. Our hearts were deeply stirred and Glyn and I were both filled with a longing to return to our beloved Africa, the land where we poured out our lives to bring the Good News of God’s love to those who had never heard the Gospel message.

Some might question why in my writings I speak of a country, towns and cities whose names no longer exist. The answer is simple, my friends; I was born, grew up, married and bore our children in Rhodesia NOT Zimbabwe. My feet did not walk the dusty paths of the new names given to places well-loved and known to me by different names. So for the sake of accuracy and being faithful to the events of that era, I do not use the modern names of my homeland and the land of our calling.
The rugged wild beauty of the Rhodesian bush, along with its rocky granite kopjies and daunting escarpments are beyond compare. The distinctive sounds along with the unique scents of the bush had a way of seeping into one’s very being. Those of us who have been blessed to live in Rhodesia will never erase its images from our minds and hearts. A certain sound, a particular scent will instantly bring back a rush of nostalgic memories, so tangible that it would seem they could be touched and embraced all over again!

For this Nugget I want to fast forward to many years later in our journey in Africa. Rhodesia and all of it memories had become a chapter in the history of a changing nation. It was now called Zimbabwe, all the familiar landmarks, towns and villages had new names; the year was 1984 and it was early May. Our years of serving in Rhodesia had come to a close and we had accepted a post to be missionary educators running a Bible College in Durban South Africa.
Glyn’s parents had remained in Rhodesia, living in Bulawayo. While there his mother passed away in May of 1982. After her death Dad Davies moved to the rural town of Sinoia where he served as the senior Pastor of a congregation.
Glyn and I were very familiar with this rural town as it had been part of our District and Glyn had built a church for our African congregation in that town.

Days flew by as we were busy with our leadership and teaching duties at Covenant Bible College, in Durban South Africa. Then early on the morning on May 6th. 1984, an urgent call came, that no-one want to hear; telling us that Dad Davies had passed away from complications after surgery.

Sadly we loaded our car, took the children out of school and set out for the long three day journey from Durban, South Africa to Harare, Zimbabwe (known to us as Salisbury). The deeper we drove in Zimbabwe the more shocked we were at how the country we remembered had changed. Signs of poverty seemed to be the norm; gone were the maize fields, in their place farmland lay desolate and uncared for. Farms that during our day raised large herds of cattle now lay in ruins with no signs of livestock of any kind. We were shaken and saddened by what we saw.

After the funeral service and burial at the Warren Hills Cemetery, we lingered saying our earthly farewell. You see, in that sacred place not only was it the final resting place of Glyn’s father but also of our infant son who was laid to rest there, in 1974. We did not sorrow though, as those without hope, as we drew comfort in the knowledge that in God’s eternal time we would be reunited as a family in heaven. Finally we made our way back to Harare, where we were staying with friends who lived in the suburb of Borrowdale.
Glyn knew the roads well and decided to take a shortcut that would take us down the road of what used to be Prime Minister, Ian Smith’s residence during the days when Rhodesia was our home. We came to the intersection that would turn onto the road we were seeking when suddenly we were confronted by military men armed to the teeth with AK47 rifles pointed at us.
We were confused, to our knowledge we had done nothing wrong, we had not run a red light or more to the point transgressed to the level that deserved a posse of zealous soldiers surrounding our car with rifles cocked and ready!

Our vehicle had South African plates so it was evident to our captors that we must be visitors, yet this did not seem to make any difference. The leader and spokesman of the group poked at Glyn’s window and indicated that he open it. He demanded to know where we were going. Glyn responded that we were visitors staying with friends in Borrowdale. The men chattered amongst themselves for a few minutes in the local dialect, Shona; knowing the language, we quickly discovered we were in grave danger. They were trying to decide whether to shoot us!
The soldiers were totally unaware that we understood Shona from our years of being missionaries in Rhodesia, they thought they had the upper hand!

I was so thankful that we had not taken our two children with us to the graveside service, as it was not looking good for our safety. Quietly I prayed asking the Lord to help us.
The leader marched back to the car with hostility oozing out of his swaggering steps. He demanded we explain why we were trying to drive down this particular road, as this road was closed to the public. It was now the road where President Mugabe’s palatial Mansion stood.
He told us their instructions were to “shoot on sight” if any uninvited individual drove down that road. Things were looking bleak and grim for us, tensions were rising, the men were flexing their muscles and we had no defense or way of escape. Would God hear our prayers and rescue us from our now aggressive captures?

Glyn remained was amazingly calm; he looked the leader in the eyes and swiftly stopped speaking in English and switched into the Shona dialect, telling the leader that we had travelled three days from South Africa to bury his father. He explained that we were just returning from the graveside and now were trying to reach the house of friends, so that we could sorrow with our children!
Instantly the soldiers’ demeanor dramatically changed, it was as though they had been punched in the stomach and all their bravado had melted away.
What had changed?
What had caused these soldiers to lower their rifles?
The answer was that Glyn had tapped into our knowledge of Africans their deep rooted custom of respecting the passing of an elder!
The leader attitude changed and he instructed us not to go down this road, directing us to turn around and take different route – God had heard our cries for help and prepared a way of escape!

As we drove a different route to the suburb of Borrowdale, thanking God for our miraculous escape from certain death. God reminded me of a precious scripture that we both hold in our hearts and stood upon, during our years as missionaries and right up to today!

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.

God’s Blueprint

Rufaro Mission church completed 1953

(Opening Day of the Rufaro Mission church, built by my Dad, Willard Wilson)

Genesis 6:14-16 (NKJV) “Make yourself an ark of gopher wood; make rooms in the ark, and cover it inside and outside with pitch. And this is how you shall make it: The length of the ark shall be three hundred cubits, its width fifty cubits, and its height thirty cubits.
You shall make a window for the ark, and you shall finish it to a cubit from above; and set the door of the ark in its side. You shall make it with lower, second, and third decks.”

Noah will always be a sterling example of total obedience to God’s commands, when he followed God’s instructions in building the ark.
Have you ever found yourself in the situation where the work that God has called you to do, is something you would never have become involved in by YOUR choice?
This is the situation Noah finds himself in.
There are lessons to be learned from his example.

My Dad could relate to Noah’s daunting task that God lay before him.
When I was about 5 years old, we moved from the mission station where I was born, to Rufaro (the name means “joyful”) mission station.
The mission house was in terrible disrepair. Before we could sleep our first night in the house Dad and Mom had to clear out a whole nest of bats that were living in the rafters of the house!
There were no luxuries of modern life, but not once did we, as a family, consider that we were suffering or under privileged!
Quite the opposite; each day brought its own challenges which my parents had to wrestle with; but for me, it brought so many places to explore and develop my love for life in the African bush, with all the creepy crawlies that were my daily companions!

The mission station needed a church building that would be big enough to hold the crowds that would attend our annual district conferences plus other special large gatherings.
Dad contacted a team of Master builders in the town of Fort Victoria, which was about 45 miles away. He explained that he wanted to build a church made from cement blocks in a semi-triangle shape with specific dimensions to hold a large crowd; but he did not want the rafters to be resting on any pillars in the center of the building, as he wanted the congregation, who would be sitting on roughly hewn backless benches or on the cement floor, to be able to see the platform without pillars barring their view. There would be no ceiling, just the open rafters and the roof would be galvanized iron sheets.

Once the builders heard the description and size of what Dad wanted to build, they told him that there was no possible way to hold the weight of the rafters without load bearing pillars.
Dad returned to the mission, frustrated but determined to find a solution even though the “experts” told him it was impossible.
That night, when we had family prayer time, we took the problem to the Lord and Dad asked God to help him find an answer.

In the middle of the night Dad woke up as though someone had tapped him on the shoulder, immediately he began to visualize how the rafters could be bolted together to a large steel plate.
Dad felt strongly that the Lord was giving him the blueprint!
He quickly jumped out of bed, lit a hurricane lantern, (we had no electricity), went into the office and began to feverishly write down the dimensions, length of rafters, size and thickness of the steel plate etc. as the figures came to his mind.
The next morning he drove back to Fort Victoria, met with the builders and showed them his diagrams. The men were stunned; in all their combined years of building experience they had never seen anything like this. After much head scratching the “experts” agreed that Dad’s blueprint, which God had given him in the night, would actually work!
Dad returned to the mission station and with help from African volunteers, he built that church. The building was completed over 60 years ago! Glyn and I have preached many sermons under those rafters and the church is still being used today for the preaching of the Gospel!

Noah found himself in a similar predicament but in accordance to the divine command he obeyed and crossed every “t” and dotted every “I”.
Think about it – Noah was commissioned by God to build a large ship, the likes of which had never been heard of before! How easy it would have been for him to tell God that he and his sons were not shipbuilders by any stretch of the imagination! Added to that they would need a very large body of water to launch a vessel of that magnitude and there was no such body of water where Noah was to build the Ark!
Yet, Noah did not raise the slightest objection and went to work immediately. Implicitly, he obey God’s blueprint and built the Ark to divine specifications.
The whole time he and his sons were building the Ark, people living in that area must have scoffed and laughed at him until he became the object of cruel jokes and taunts.
But Noah, kept working and obeying the command of the Lord.

Genesis 6:22 (NKJV) “Thus Noah did; according to all that God commanded him, so he did.”

What lesson can we learn from Noah’s example?
The answer is that God’s commands are His enabling’s!
When God asks a task of us, He always will provide the strength, knowledge and ability to complete it!
Do you struggle with the task before you that God has lead you into? Do not fear or become discouraged!
Remember Noah, remember my Dad, Willard Wilson and countless other soldiers of the Cross that have stepped out in faith trusting God to provide Divine guidance and provision!
Yes, God’s promise of knowledge and provision is still in the Book!
1 Thessalonians 5:24 (NKJV) “He who calls you is faithful, who also will do it. “