Tag Archives: Lessons From the African Bush

Dusty Trails Along the River Bank

Elies on the move by Michael North Imagery

Photographer – Michael North Imagery (Used with permission)

Africa is such a land of contrasts. From barren dry deserts to rain forests; from rich farming land to rugged mountain ranges and rocky canyons; from mighty river courses, like the Zambezi, carving their way through the land to little unnamed streams.
From scrub bush and the grassy plains to untamed areas that soon will be the last refuge for wild animals to roam wild and free.
From modern cities teeming with people to remote primitive villages with its residents living exactly as their ancestors did, hundreds of years before them.

This vast land of contrasts embraces it all with such uniqueness that once you have breathed its air, soaked in the warmth of its sun or walked its trails; you are forever changed. For those of us who have been privileged to live and experience Africa; we carry its sights and sounds with us no matter where we wander and hold its memories close to our hearts.

Many of my readers know that my childhood years were spent growing up on Mission Stations and travelling with my parents to remote villages in the bush; where we spent many idyllic weeks in primitive camping.
This developed a love in me for the bush-veld and a huge appreciation for the wild life we encountered. To the trained eye and ear, the unspoiled bush is alive with the purest life and sounds that have not been touched by the trappings of modern civilization.
These are the memories that have stayed with me through the years. I have spent many hours walking the winding dusty trails created by the feet of countless wild game; the animals that have walked these paths, each leave their own messages to the observant eye!

Elephants are great trail blazers, creating paths through dense bush which eventually will lead the follower to a water source. Elephants have an amazing “internal compass” to search out water even in the driest of seasons. The matriarch will lead the herd of hot and thirsty elephants, sometimes for days in the dry seasons, to a water source with pin-point accuracy. She will do this year after year. This in turn opens a trail for other wild game to follow in their own search for the life giving water of these remote rivers and pools.

Not only do these bush trails lead to the cool refreshing wilderness waters but they provide a place of refuge from the heat of the day in the shade of trees, which have their roots tapped into the life giving water. The trees along the banks of the rivers in Rhodesia/Zimbabwe produce deep shade regardless of the arid conditions in the surrounding area.
I have watched in fascination as silently a herd of elephants will wend their way along the dusty, well-trodden trails to seek the deep shade of these trees during the heat of the day. Mothers will stand guard while the babies of the herd, nurse or sleep in total safety in this place of refuge.
It is a scene etched in my memory that brings back a deep appreciation for the rich heritage I experienced and a reminder of the many lessons I learned. The passage of time may change the environment around me but nothing can rob me of the call of the African bush and its “life lessons” it gave me! Those days that now seem so distant, helped to mold who I am and actually helped to deepen my personal walk with God. In the rugged wildness of the Rhodesian bush I was able to see the Hand of the Creator which only increased my love and devotion for Him!

The Prophet Jeremiah speaks of the individual who is like these trees growing along the river banks.

Jeremiah 17:7-8 (NKJV) “Blessed is the man who trusts in the LORD, And whose hope is the LORD. For he shall be like a tree planted by the waters, Which spreads out its roots by the river, And will not fear when heat comes; But its leaf will be green, And will not be anxious in the year of drought, Nor will cease from yielding fruit.”

The prophet Jeremiah was declaring the promise that as we allow our spiritual “roots” to grow deep into the “water of the Word” we will not faint or wither in the harsh heat of life’s trials.

Even the Psalmist David recognized the key to weathering the heat of the battles of life.

Psalm 46:1-4 (NKJV) “God is our refuge and strength, A very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, Even though the earth be removed, And though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea; Though its waters roar and be troubled, Though the mountains shake with its swelling. There is a river whose streams shall make glad the city of God, The holy place of the tabernacle of the Most High.”

GOD IS OUR REFUGE – “He HIDES us” from the attack of the enemy of our souls.
I have watched as the mother elephants will pull the young calves against them in the middle of the herd at the first sign of danger. So too when the enemy of our soul attacks, he cannot penetrate the impregnable defense that God surrounds his trusting child with.

GOD IS OUR STRENGTH – “He HELPS us”.
The elephant herd will become a force to reckon with if a predator gets too close to their babies.
If these wild “gentle giants” will defend their young which such coordinated ferocity, how much more will God come speedily to the cry of even His weakest child?

There are times in our lives that we need a REFUGE to run to. When the storms are merciless and the battle raging; we sometimes find our strength to fight on waning; it is then we have a place to run to……..our God is our refuge!
This does not mean that we stay hidden though; God is our refuge so that He can HELP us.
This is not just a place of “escape” for the child of God but a place of “rejuvenation”.

When life bombards us with events that overwhelm us, we seek God’s place of refuge where we will receive strength, courage and wisdom which empowers us to return to the thick of the battle with fresh resolve!
With God as our refuge we have nothing to fear in these troubled times. When we are firmly planted in the Word of God and surrounded by His impregnable love, we will be able to withstand the fiercest winds of adversity. Our confidence and strength lies in the creator of the Universe to keep us safe, despite the heat of adversity!

Learn the lessons from the trails in the African bush!
No matter what you are facing today, focus on the promise that God is your REFUGE and STRENGTH and He will help you weather your storms and times of testing!
Let me close with the beautiful words of this inspiring hymn:

TIL THE STORM PASSES BY, (songwriter THOMAS MOSIE LISTER)

In the dark of the midnight have I oft hid my face
While the storm howls above me, and there’s no hiding place
‘Mid the crash of the thunder, Precious Lord, hear my cry
Keep me safe till the storm passes by

Till the storm passes over, till the thunder sounds no more
Till the clouds roll forever from the sky
Hold me fast, let me stand in the hollow of Thy hand
Keep me safe till the storm passes by

Many times Satan whispered, “There is no need to try
For there’s no end of sorrow, there’s no hope by and by”
But I know Thou art with me, and tomorrow I’ll rise
Where the storms never darken the skies

When the long night has ended and the storms come no more
Let me stand in Thy presence on the bright peaceful shore
In that land where the tempest, never comes, Lord, may I
Dwell with Thee when the storm passes by

Till the storm passes over, till the thunder sounds no more
Till the clouds roll forever from the sky
Hold me fast, let me stand in the hollow of Thy hand
Keep me safe till the storm passes by

Integrity Challenged

AFRICAN hut

A typical hut in an African Village

Our house in Hartley, Rhodesia was a hive of activity as Glyn prepared to take a trip to the very remote village of Sahai in the Gokwe Tribal Trust land. It was late September 1970, the dry season still had its grip on the parched land; but it was the best time to travel to this remote area, as roads to it were nonexistent. I would not be accompanying him on this trip as it was going to be a rough journey nd I was expecting our first son.

Earlier in the month at our Quarterly conference an elder who ministered in the Gokwe area came to Glyn saying that the villagers in Sahai had expressed to him that a missionary had never visited their village. They asked if the “Mfundisi” (missionary) would come, visit and teach them about his God. During the meeting Glyn shared with the African ministers present, his plans to visit this unreached village. Immediately three ministers indicated they wanted to accompany him. Pastor Chigabadzira, Pastor Mpokatera and Pastor Chakanuka would travel with Glyn along with Richard Llongwe who lived with us and helped us where ever he could.

The Daihatsu truck was loaded to the max with everything the men would need for the journey as there would not be any convenience stores or petrol (gas) stations once they left the small town of Gokwe Center. The road deteriorated fast and eventually was nothing but a dusty, bone rattling, bush track. At one point they came to a dry river bed that was very sandy and it would be easy for the truck to become stuck. So they lightened the load by all the men getting out except for Glyn; then he gingerly drove across the river bed picking his way between deep sand and river washed rocks.

After they crossed the river they encountered groups of people walking; women with babies on their backs and loads on their heads and men carrying bundles of blankets. They stopped and asked where the people were going and discovered that the word had spread that the white Mfundisi was going to visit Sahai and teach about his God!

Finally after a very long exhausting day the village came into view. Mud huts with thatched roofs were dotted in a haphazard fashion across the landscape. The trees consisted of scrub bush, what little grass was left was dry and brown. Scrawny dogs started barking setting up the alarm that visitors had arrived. Glyn subsequently discovered that this village had only ever been visited by a white man forty years before; when a District Commissioner had visited. So anyone younger than 40 to 45 years old did not even know what a white man looked like! The children that had been playing in the dirt outside the huts ran in terror when Glyn got out of the truck. He must have seemed like a ghost to them.

It wasn’t very long and Chief Nenynka along with his counsel of elders arrived to welcome the “Mfundisi” and the three African Pastors. Once the customary greetings were completed the Chief explained that two huts had been prepared for the guests. One hut would accommodate the three African Pastors and the other was for Glyn to sleep in. Richard would make his bed on the back of the truck to protect their supplies.
The smell of the evening fires filled the air as the villagers prepared their evening meal. Great anticipation filled the air, as the Chief had declared that the whole village would gather that evening and listen to the Mfundisi tell them about his God.

As dusk began to fall a large bonfire was started in an open area; a few chairs were put out for the Chief, his councilmen and the visitors. The rest of the villagers brought grass mats and sat on the ground. Richard lit a hurricane lantern and brought it to Glyn so he would have a semblance of light to read the scriptures. All eyes were riveted on him as he began to unfold the simple truth of the Gospel message.

At one point while Glyn was preaching a scorpion ran out of the shadows, attracted by the flickering of the fire. Without hesitation it plunged straight into the fire. The villagers were so mesmerized by Glyn’s explanation about Jesus who loved them enough to die for them, that they did not stir when the scorpion rushed to its sudden death. These villagers were accustomed to bondage and fear of their heathen Gods; now to be told that they could worship a God who forgives and loves them unconditionally was hard to comprehend.
The night was growing late so Pastor Mpokatera announced that they should all go to their huts and think deeply what they heard; the discussion would continue in the morning.

Glyn was bone weary and was more than ready to crawl into his sleeping bag in the hut. Richard had kindly put the hurricane lantern on a bare table in the mud hut for Glyn. Before settling down for the night Glyn decided to make sure Richard was comfortable. As he stepped outside he noticed an African woman sitting on the ground beside the door of his hut. He greeted her and asked what she wanted but she simply dropped her head and remained quiet. Thinking she did not understand him, he asked Richard why she was there. Richard smiled and simple said, “Mfundisi it is this people’s custom to supply an important visitor with a woman for the night, to provide for his needs!” The reality of the situation dawned on Glyn; he was walking a fine line of offending the Chief by not accepting this “so-called honor” yet on the other hand he was not about to compromise his convictions and his relationship with the Lord; let alone his red-headed wife!

He walked over to the hut where the three African Pastors were sleeping; the four men discussed the best way to handle the situation. Pastor Mpokatera was the most fluent in the dialect, he would go tell the woman her services were not needed. Then he would go to the Chief’s hut and explain to him as diplomatically as possible that the Mfundisi appreciated Chief Nenynka honor; but this was not part of the Mfundisi’s custom and he needed to follow the ways of his own people and his God. Thankfully the Chief graciously understood and the matter was closed!

The next morning a great meeting was held, the truth of the Gospel was shared and many indicated they wanted to follow Jesus and his teachings, turning away from their heathen gods. The visit to this remote village had borne fruit and a new church in that village was birthed.

There is a lesson each one of us can take from this experience Glyn had. As children of God who love and serve Him, the one thing we need to guard and protect with all our strength is our integrity. If we lose our integrity by giving into temptation we will become like that scorpion, burned by the flame of selfish desires.

King David was known as the “a man after God’s own heart” but because of selfish choices he was denied the privilege of building the temple. He paid a high consequence for indulging himself in his own desires.
My challenge to my readers today is the time has come that those who love and serve God to stand tall and not be ashamed to be accounted as a righteous individual in a debased and immoral generation!

The Apostle Paul teaches this principle in Romans 1:16-17 (NKJV)
“For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek.
For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, “The just shall live by faith.”

Monkeys & a Witchdoctor

 

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Rufaro Mission staff walking to African village.

MONKEYS & A WITCHDOCTOR WITH A COMMON AGENDA  

In a previous Nuggets, I have recounted how poisonous snakes were a constant problem at Rufaro Mission in Rhodesia. The Mission house was built at the base of a rocky granite kopjie (hill) which was a haven for scorpions and snakes; added to that there was a large orchard plus the house was flanked on one side by tall Gum Trees (Eucalyptus) and a row of Evergreen trees on the other side. Not only did this natural landscape provide shelter for a large assortment of “creepy crawlies”, some harmless, some deadly and some ugly; it also provided a safe environment for a resident troop of monkeys. As a child, though thoroughly fascinated by scorpions and snakes, my parents taught me to respect them, keep my distance and let an adult dispatch them with a heavy stick or dose of lead from a trusty shot gun! 

 

The monkeys on the other hand were a source of great entertainment for me but a trial of patience for my Dad. I loved to watch their precision agility as they leaped from the lofty top of one Gum tree to another. They made their presence known with their noisy chatter which worked to their disadvantage. One of their prime motives for their daily foray to the Mission was to steal the drying maize (corn) cobs, spread out in the blazing sun on the flat part of the Mission house’s galvanized iron roof. The troop would perch in the upper branches waiting for the right opportunity, when it seemed no one was around; then with lightning speed they would leap onto the roof grab a maize cob and race back to the safety of the upper branches of the Gum trees, with their ill-gotten trophy.

As much fun as this was for me to watch I knew I needed to alert Dad the monkeys were stealing cobs from the roof. A couple of well-placed shots would send the troop scampering from the trees and up onto their favorite boulders on the Kopjie while they screeched insults back at us. As long as we were drying the cobs, to be could be ground into “mealie meal”; the monkeys would make a daily stop at the Mission to engage in their troublesome agenda.

We had another regular visitor to the Mission but this one came under the cover of darkness. On the other side of the Kopjie was a village in which resided a female witchdoctor who had a strangle hold on the villagers. The presence of our family and the Mission church and school that we were running was slowly causing her control to weaken. So, like the troop of monkeys she had a malicious agenda when she would silently slip into the Mission compound during the dark hours of the night.

 

Week after week the sinister evidence of her visits, such as a chickens claws, snake skins or worse still, the severed head of a snake, would be found in the morning outside the door of her victim. Her intent was to cause fear in the hearts of the African staff, hoping they would abandon their posts and disrupt the running of the Mission.

 

Some of the staff wanted Dad to go the village and confront the witchdoctor as her presence was very disturbing plus she seemed to be getting braver in her acts of sabotage and they feared that one of these nightly forays would result in someone being poisoned.

 

Dad called the staff together and explained to them that “fighting” with the witchdoctor would only cause her to become more aggressive. Then Dad told the staff that it was time to put into action the teaching that Jesus gave concerning how to deal with our enemies. He read the following scripture to the staff:

 

Matthew 5:43-45 (NKJV) “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’  But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven; for He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.”

 

Dad explained that acts of love would win more people from the village than words of anger. After this meeting, once a week a group of staff along with my mother and of course this little red-headed tag-along; would make the four-mile walk through the bush to the village, bearing gifts of blankets and clothing. They would gather the children teaching them Bible lessons and songs.

 

It wasn’t long before adults began to drift from their huts listening to the teachings of a God of love. The witchdoctor never made an appearance but we knew she could hear every word spoken and sung from the dark regions of her foreboding hut.  

 

Several months passed, more and more villagers were openly attending our Sunday services. Then one never to be forgotten Sunday; the Witchdoctor strode into the gathered congregation as Dad was finishing his sermon.

 

The congregation cringed in terror!

 

Had she come to curse the missionary publicly?

 

Did she intend to make an example of the villagers who had disobeyed her command to stay away from the Mission?

 

Silenced reigned; all eyes were fixed on this sinister ambassador of terror.

 

She raised her hand, pointing at Dad and then she broke the palpable silence. She said that she had, for several months, seen the kindness and gentleness that the missionaries and the African staff had shown to the villagers and now she too wanted to know more about “this God of love”!  Added to that she held up a large bag filled with all her paraphernalia that WERE THE TOOLS OF HER TRADE, announcing that she wanted Dad to make a big fire and burn them and then she wanted to be baptized in water before the congregation as a demonstration of her sincerity. The congregation sang and danced for joy as item after item of the tools of her witchcraft were thrown into the fire.

 

Then we walked to our small dam where Dad and one of the deacons would baptize her in water. Before entering the water, she requested that Dad cut off the copper amulets and symbols of her witchcraft that filled both arms to the elbow joints. Dad sent Tubeho to get wire-cutters from the tool shed and snip by snip these trappings of her trade fell to the ground.

 

I shall never forget that day. I had witnessed the love of God winning a battle against forces of evil!

 

It was a great day of rejoicing at Rufaro Mission.

 

POWERFUL PROTECTOR

Charging elephant - photographer unknown

Charging elephant – photographer unknown

POWERFUL PROTECTOR

My voice has been silent for many weeks on my Blog. Many of you know that this past month my husband and I have been traversing some very turbulent waters. Glyn contacted a debilitating bacteria and we have had to fight hard for his life. This Blog will give you an insight into the emotional roller coaster ride we have experienced and continue to be on!

A Pastor friend posted this scripture verse on his Face Book page today.

Psalm 116:7-8 (NKJV) Return to your rest, O my soul, For the LORD has dealt bountifully with you. For You have delivered my soul from death, My eyes from tears, And my feet from falling.

When I read his post I messaged him that these two verses summarize the events that have unfolded over the past month in our own personal journey. We have experienced moments of ecstatic joy only to get broadsided yet again and find ourselves plunging into the depths of despair. Glyn’s physical battle with the debilitating CDIF bacteria literally knocked our world off its orbit! Through all the eruptions of emotions, exhaustion, fears and tears that have become our daily onslaughts; one thing remains steadfast…….God’s powerful promises to us.

Having spent years in Africa; we have been privileged to watch firsthand the daily battle between “predator and prey” and experience the ebb and flow of death and life being played out in the African bush. Predators such as adult lions, leopards and cheetah have mastered their art of seeking out and catching their prey. There are certain of the “big game” that these master predators have learned to respect though; one of them is the majestic “gentle giants” of the bush……the adult elephants.

A pride of lions will only go after the sick or small babies of an elephant herd. Should they happen upon a baby or juvenile elephant that has strayed or lagged behind the formidable protection of the herd, they will take the opportunity to come in for the kill, using stealth and speed to spring on their unsuspecting prey.

More often than not, it does not end well for the pride of lions, even though they are armed with claw and teeth which their prey, a baby elephant in this case, has nothing to defend itself with. At the first swat of the dominant lion’s claws, the elephant will begin squealing loudly for his or her mother. Only in isolated cases is the mother elephant ever out of ear-shot of her baby. Upon hearing that cry for help ten thousand pounds of muscle and sinew will explode out of the bush with such speed that it boggles the mind to see an animal of this size move so fast. Every nerve in her massive body will be at fever pitch to reach her baby before the predators succeed in their mission. Her trumpeting rises to a crescendo that is capable of making the blood run cold and the fury of her attack is hard to comprehend. With one swing of her powerful trunk she will send a full grown 300 pound lion flying and then with a swift jab of her deadly tusks she will disembowel her victim. Her screams of defiance and protection bring other members of the elephant herd into the fray. By now the remaining members of the lion pride will hastily retreat into the bush, knowing that they had chosen the wrong prey! Once the mother elephant knows her baby is safe she gently will guide the little one back into the protection of the herd.

I trust by now you are seeing where I am going with this Nugget. God comes swiftly in answer to the cry of his children, to protect them, succor them and sustain them against the attack of the enemy.

At this juncture let put to rest the protestations of those who thrive on theological debates! I am NOT saying that God is a woman!

I am merely painting a picture of the intense protection & caring a mother elephant has for her young to show that God’s concern for His children is even greater! I am attempting to give you a visual “plumb-line” to focus on!

In the midst of the darkest hour and deepest time of testing God mercy becomes a tower of strength and He will bring good out of the direst of attacks from the enemy of our souls.

You may ask………..what about the persecuted church?

What about countless ones in this troubled time that we live; who are dying for their faith?

Does God not care about them? Does God merely have his “favorites” that He protects?

Let my answer reverberate down the halls of time……. NO………ABSOLUTELY NO.

God hears our cry and as we see in Psalm 116:7-8 He deals bountifully with us according to His Divine knowledge and Will.

He will do what is BEST FOR HIS CHILDREN.

For the child of God there is no bad outcome.

If God comes to our aid and delivers us, we put the enemy to flight.

If God in His infinite mercy takes us home to Glory, our earthly suffering is over and our eternal reward awaits us.

So either way, my friends, the child of God wins!

YES – God, in His mercy HAS sustained us.

Through this time of testing He has preserved and protected us.

He has delivered my soul from death, My eyes from tears, And my feet from falling!

BLESSED BE THE NAME OF THE LORD!

Elephant Size Thirst

Crossing River by Michael North Imagery (Used with permission)

Crossing River by Michael North Imagery
(Used with permission)

ELEPHANT SIZE THIRST

I am sure you are familiar with the lament…… “Water, water everywhere and not a drop to drink!”

The western nations of this world are blessed to have fresh clean water in abundance and going thirsty is not one of their major issues. However, there are many third world countries where clean water is scarce. Contaminated and diseased water is a major problem and, sickness and death often result.

Have you ever found yourself with a thirst so intense that you could not focus on anything else?

I have experienced intense thirst while living in Rhodesia. (Zimbabwe)

Sitting on the banks of the great Limpopo River, cooling off after a bone jarring journey over rough bush roads, thirst would be upper most in our minds. Seeing a herd of Springbok prancing on dainty legs heading down to the river for water was a beautiful scene, yet it only made us more aware of our own desire for a long cool drink of water.

Then a family of elephant silently appeared through the bush and headed for the river. The matriarch was leading them with confidence as she “knew” about this abundant water source. These majestic “gentle giants” have a level of intelligence that Wild Life experts still have not totally tapped into. They walk miles from one end of their territory to another in search of food and water. The Matriarch is the leader, teacher and role model for the family group. She sets the tone, mood and sense of security through her body language and vocalization to each member under her watchful eye. They even have the ability to use infrasonic sounds, which are sounds emitted below the human hearing range, in long distance communication with other herds of elephants.

Another mark of their intelligence is they have a great capacity to remember, places, smells, sounds and situations where they were either fearful or comforted.  Also their sense of smell is one their life saving attributes. Depending on which Wild Life expert you glean your information from; elephants can smell water three to twelves miles away! The Matriarch even knows what dry river beds will have water under the dry sands that they can dig for and during seasons of severe drought this knowledge saves her family, especially the babies in the herd, from certain death. Water is vital to their well-being as an adult elephant will drink about 225 liters (56 gallons) of water per day and this can sometimes be drunk during a single visit. Each trunkful may amount to between 4 and 8 liters (1 to2 gallons).

Sitting on the banks of the Limpopo feasting our eyes on the scene unfolding before us only added to our desire to throw caution to the wind and plunge into the cooling water splashing and drinking to our heart’s content.  This would have been a serious lapse in judgment if we had followed our impulse.

We had drinking water with us but had to be very frugal not to waste one drop and only drink when necessary.

Canvass water bag

Canvass water bag

Many Rhodesians from the early years would carry canvass water bags, filled with pure drinking water. One or two of the canvass bags would be hung on the front of the vehicle which had the effect of making the water extremely cool and refreshing. Whenever we travelled in the bush it was vital we carry enough drinking water for our journey or the ability to purify river water; as the African heat will dehydrate the human body very quickly.

God created us with a thirst for water being one of our strongest desires, for without it, we cannot live.

I think the Psalmist might have been sitting beside a bubbling stream watching a deer quietly stepping out of the shadows to reach the thirst quenching water, when he penned these words:

Psalm 42:1-2 “As the deer pants for the water brooks, so pants my soul for You, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God.”

The Psalmist wrote of his soul thirsting for God, “for the living God.”

See the beautiful picture the Psalmist has painted for his readers.

He uses the deer as an illustration to describe how he longs for his God. As this animal is parched to the point of panting for the water, it sounds as if the deer is about to faint from thirst. The water gives the deer life again as he drinks it in to quench his thirsting body. Instinctively, the animal knows that he will die without water. The Psalmist expresses his desire for the living God the same way, knowing that he will die without God as his source of life.

Have you ever had that kind of desire for God? Has your soul ever longed for the Lord to the point of thirsting after Him, and panting after Him?

Once you have tasted of His living water, you will thirst for Jesus so intensely that all you will want is to be with Him, to see Him face-to-face.

We need to become like the Matriarch elephant who “KNEW” the source of the life giving water for her family.

God is our source to quench that inner longing thirst for eternal life, joy and peace. Drink long and deep from His fountain of life today.

John 7:37-38 (NKJV) “On the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried out, saying, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink. He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.”

Distant Drums

African village beating the drums.

African village beating the drums.

DISTANT DRUMS

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 Massa 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.

Hot Springs And Helicopters

Rhodesians Air Force Helicopters - Hot Springs September 1976

Rhodesians Air Force Helicopters – Hot Springs September 1976

HOT SPRINGS AND HELICOPTERS 

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 you 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 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!

Rhodesian Air Force Alouette Helicopters -Hot Springs. Sept. 1976

Rhodesian Air Force Alouette Helicopters -Hot Springs. Sept. 1976

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’. The leader of the group explained that they had received a tip that a group of terrorists were hiding somewhere in the bush near 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 is able to deliver each one of us.

Psalm 121:1-8 (NKJV)

1 I will lift up my eyes to the hills– From whence comes my help?

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

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

4 Behold, He who keeps Israel Shall neither slumber nor sleep.

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

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

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

8 The LORD shall preserve your going out and your coming in From this time forth, and even forevermore.