Amunte sighed heavily as he watched the sun set over the mountain peaks of his home, a sign that another day had ended and what waited for him tomorrow was far beyond his control. For three agonizing weeks he had watched his people fade into the darkness with twisted bodies and cries of mercy. A fever had entered the camp, and as chief, Amunte was looked upon for protection and guidance. He had begged the gods for mercy and followed the ancient traditions of his people by cutting himself and offering the blood to the god Takounti, the god of health. He had ordered his people to bring their idols to the center of the camp where daily they worshipped for hours and interceded on behalf of those who were sick and those whose souls had entered the Lakatani; the halfway dimension between earth and eternal paradise. He refused to eat, but the more he prayed, the more his people faded into darkness. Exhausted, Amunte fell to his knees and cried.
Adam woke early that morning to the savory smells of coffee brewing. He yawned and stretched and quietly tiptoed to the kitchen, careful not to wake his wife Sarah who had been up most of the night with a stomach ache. Their trip had been long and exhausting and now they had to not only adjust to the drastic time change, but also to the cultural difference between their American home and the indigenous tribes that surrounded their new environment. Entering the kitchen, Adam smiled as he saw that his new friend Meoni was already fixing a hearty breakfast for her new guests. Meoni and her husband, Paueri had happily agreed to host Adam and Sarah who had come to their country to minister to the local tribes and share the good news of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Meoni was gentle and kind and would still cry tears of joy when she would tell others of her testimony of how God had saved her life by sending missionaries who told her the good news.
“Good morning, Adam.” Meoni said.
“Good morning, Meoni.” Adam Responded.
“Your wife, she sleeps?”
“She may sleep a little longer than usual, she was not feeling well last night” Adam said instinctively placing his hand on his stomach.
“Ah, I give her something, she feel like dancing” Meoni said smiling.
“She will be happy about that.”
“And where is Paueri?”
“Paueri is working”
Adam’s eyes widened. It was barely light outside and Paueri had already had his breakfast and was working. He laughed to himself about the jokes that he had heard about how Americans were lazy.
Later that day, Adam and Sarah went into the larger city of Nookpi to buy supplies and food. They marveled at the sights they saw and were introduced to a British reporter named James who had been stationed there for years and was a great resource for the many questions they had about the region. He spoke with them candidly about the many tribes and said that most were friendly and open, but there were a few who wanted very little to do with the outside world. Sarah felt a stirring in her spirit as James spoke of a tribe located in the mountain region of Bagali. They had had very little contact with the outside world, and though he had heard of two tribe members who had left the camp, most people had never seen them.
“Adam, we’re supposed to find that tribe.” Sarah said adamantly.
“Sarah, we don’t know anything about them, they live in the mountains and we don’t have access to a vehicle that would make it up there anyway.”
Suddenly, like manna from heaven, a green jeep drove in front of them with a very large “for sale” sign displayed in the back window. Adam and Sarah looked at one another incredulously.
“Okay, okay, we’ll look into it. Adam said.
It had been two days since Amunte slept and he felt his body weaken. Two more of his people had died in the middle of the night and he was sure that it would not be long before the fever would ravage his already weakened body. A grandmother in his tribe had been trying to speak with him for two days. She was hysterically shouting and following Amunte around with a green beetle clutched in her hand. Amunte had assumed that the fever had taken her mind and ordered her to stay far away from him. Following the tribes customs, she had no choice but to obey Amunte. Amunte retreated to his hut and once again began his daily rituals of praying to the god Takounti. He sat for hours and heard nothing. Suddenly, as quietly as a gentle breeze, Amunte heard a voice. Frightened, Amunte jumped to his feet. He had never heard the voice before and it was spoken in a place Amunte had never known. It was not an audible voice but a gentle almost loving whisper in the deepest recesses of his heart. Amunte knew that it was not Takounti, but whoever it was only spoke six words. They were spoken with such authority and gentleness that it made him shiver with awe.
“I am the one true God.”
Reluctantly, yet curious, Amante whispered, “Speak to me again.”
“I am the one true God, worship only me.”
“Who are you? Please, tell me your name”
“I am the one true God, worship only me.”
Amunte sat down as sense of peace flooded his entire body. Strength that had left his body suddenly entered and for the first time in three weeks he began to smile as tears of joy streamed down his face. He knew then what he must do for the sake of his people. Courageously he ordered everyone in the tribe to bring their idols to the center of the camp where they would be burned and ordered everyone to worship the one true God. Amunte knew that he would never be the same.
Adam and Sarah made their way up the mountain region of Bagali. They had found a translator for the tribe and agreed to go with them to the camp though he did not promise that they would be open to anything they had to say. Adam was still in a state of shock at recent purchase of the green jeep that had seen better days. He looked over at Sarah who had not slept in two days and marveled at how beautiful she looked. She had always had such a beautiful spirit and the more she decreased and allowed him to decrease, the more beautiful she became. They had always thanked God for their bond and their common vision for ministering to the indigenous people and today was no different. Adam had learned to always listen carefully when his wife believed she had heard from the Lord. He had never seen her more adamant about what God had spoke to her about this remote tribe and though both of them were admittedly afraid, they both had a peace they had never known. Scouts had given Adam and Sarah a general area of where the tribe was located but could not tell them the exact location. Once again, Adam and Sarah found themselves trusting in the Spirit of God to guide them. Adam could see smoke rising in the distance and wondered if they should see that as a sign.
“Where there’s smoke there is fire.” Sarah said.
“Yeah, well, fire is not necessarily my idea of a good time. Haven’t you ever seen those old silent movies about cannibals?” Adam said nervously laughing.
“Let’s just follow the smoke and see where it leads us.”
Amunte stood with his eyes towards the heavens. He was smiling and laughing, almost ready to dance. All of his people who were sick had miraculously recovered, even those who were hours from death. They were eating and walking around as if nothing had ever happened. Most of all, Amunte had changed. He felt lighter, freer. The sky seemed bluer and the mountains around him seemed bigger. He felt like a child again and he wanted to shout. He had even sat down and listened to the grandmother with the beetle still clutched in her hand. What she had told him made him happier than he ever imagined he could be. Smiling, he looked over to see her running from her hut holding the beetle high above her head. A very strange sound had entered the camp and he looked up to see everyone but the grandmother run from it. Frightened, he grabbed his arrow and cautiously moved toward the sound. Slowly entering the camp was a large green cart with four wheels. Amunte fell to his knees as he watched the grandmother throw herself upon it as it had came to a stop. The people inside looked frightened and shocked and he recognized one as a fellow tribesmen. The grandmother was shouting over and over.
“Tell us! Tell us!”
Amunte walked slowly to the light colored man who had stepped out of the cart.
Amunte spoke. “She is happy. She has prayed and the one true God has spoke to her. He told her that a cart with four wheels the exact color of that beetle would enter our camp and tell us his name.”
“His name?” Adam questioned.
“Yes, please, can you tell us the name of the one true God?”
Adam stood shocked and bewildered. With tears welling up in his eyes he spoke,
“Jesus, his name is Jesus.”