It was a dark, cold winter's night.A storm was brewing within and without. The clouds clashed with a mighty roar as the staccato of machine-gun fire rent the air.
Cries for mercy, trembling and whimpering spread contagiously through the cringing mass. Fear is terribly contagious. As hands clasped in the dark and lips mumbled prayers, it moved like a serpent coiling around the hearts of the strongest.
Lightning streaked the sky, silhouetting the little church, accentuating its littleness. Huddled in here were about fifty Christians.
The year was 1947. A turbulent time for this country. It had been torn in two, creating another new nation. Communal riots blazed through the northern sector, leaving charred houses and corpses in its wake; turning friends into foes; building up " narrow domestic walls " that changed neighbours into enemies.
A day preceding the outburst of violence in this small village, a rumour broke out that the Christians were in favour of the division and many were opting to migrate. They were viewed with suspicion as many were converts. The call went out - Attack them.
Pastor Massey received this news with outward calm. He knew his parish was made up mainly of converts; many of them in the fledgling stage of their faith. Panic had already gripped the residents of the Christian Compound.
The church bell that afternoon, tolled ominously, as it called for an emergency meeting. As the church began to fill up, Pastor Massey sat alone in the vestry, a great weight on his shoulders. His congregation depended on him to guide them. What should he do ? How was he going to lead them through this terribly dangerous situation ? Would his ministry stand this test ? He bowed his head and began to pray; fervently begging God to direct him.
Moments later, the Pastor took his place at the pulpit. As he stood there he exuded confidence and strength.
" If God be for us who can be against us," he began. He spoke with great urgency and conviction. He reminded them of Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego in the fiery furnace - Daniel 3: 22-25. And then he assured them with God's promise in Joshua 1:5 - " No man shall be able to stand before you all the days of your life; as I was with Moses, so I will be with you. I will not leave you nor forsake you--"
" What are we going to do ?" asked an Elder.
" We will gather here and pray. The Lord has directed me to do this. Have faith in Him."
That night, barely fifty people sought shelter in the church. This worried the Pastor but there was nothing he could do. The door was shut and bolted, and a great silence descended within.
Somewhere a child whimpered and was hushed by its mother. Pastor Massey began to pray in a whisper and one by one each member joined to form a prayer-chain. All of a sudden the quiet was broken by the clash of thunder and the rattle of machine-guns. Screams tore the air as people fell to bullets and swords.
And then there came a distinct smell of kerosene. Pastor Massey knew in his heart that the church was being torched. With a loud shout of " Hallelujah," he began to pray loudly and as their prayers stormed heaven, an orange glow could be seen through the windows.
The prayers didn't stop, only now it was interspersed with the screams of the children. Everyone gathered closer into a tight circle and held hands. Never for a moment did their lips cease to call on the Lord.
Then the heavens burst with a deafening roar, as it sent down a deluge. The rain poured in torrents. In a matter of minutes the water had risen to the threshold of the church. The fire was doused.
The faithful group led by Pastor Massey, emerged from the church in the morning and saw the carnage. The story of their miraculous deliverance spread like wildfire through the village. The awesome power of God had been witnessed that day.
The hostility against the Christians was quelled. All Christians were asked to mark their houses with white flags. And no harm came to these homes. If only the others had listened to Pastor Massey. They had chosen to rely on themselves and had perished. The only survivors were those who had forsaken their Lord, to join the perpetrators and instigators.
Pastor Massey's congregation grew day by day as peace finally returned to the little village; and to the church its prodigal survivors.
Ref: Holy Bible, New King James Version
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