Footsteps. Muffled unintelligible chatter. The lock forbade the intruder’s immediate entrance. Ambokile thought quickly and climbed out the window. Hearing the noise of the door bursting open, he had no choice. It was certain death to consider any other option. His life was once again in God’s hands. Bwana! Nipe msaada!
Ambokile was the son of the Ikanga, the tribal witch doctor. As the firstborn of his father’s many wives, he was the one to carry on his father’s craft. Knowing no other life, he was honored to accept his iniquitous vocation—that is, however, until he met Pastor Otto.
Pastor Otto was commissioned to start a church in this remote African village. Ambokile vividly remembered the day he arrived. There was a commotion. A white man dared to walk in their midst unprotected—unescorted. No weapons, no native guide, no backpack full of tricks. He simply walked through the village with nothing but a book clutched in his hand. No white man from the West ever survived more than a few days—his father and the trial chiefs saw to that. This man’s fate was sealed.
Each morning before the sun fully rose, there he was…Pastor Otto standing on a rock telling about a “God” the Msambi people knew nothing of. His speech was perfect. He captured Ambokile’s attention. Never before had he met a white man who spoke with such a perfect native tongue.
One night shortly after Pastor Otto arrived, Ambokile waited until after dark and sought him out. Assuming he’d find him in a tent or under a lean-to fast asleep, he soon learned more than he ever expected. There he was—Pastor Otto, on his knees with arms raised toward the sky and tears running down his face, talking to a “God” he called “Father”. He will never forget the words he uttered:
Baba yetu uliye mginguni,
Jina lako litu kuzwe
Ufalme wako uje
Mapenzi yako yatimizwe
Hapa duniani kamahuko mbinibuni
Utupe leo riziki yetu
Kama sisi nasi tuwasamehevyo wadeni yetu
Na usitutie majarabuni
Lakini utuokoe na yule mwovu
Kwa kuwa ufalme ni wako
Ambokile had never heard such words—“Our Father, which art in heaven, hallowed be Your name...” Words of worship bathed in deep adoration. Fluid love surrounded this man like a pool of pure water from a fresh mountain spring. No longer able to contain himself, Ambokile interrupted. Curiosity led to new life that night—a life of destiny. Called out, set apart, and separated from all he ever knew. Jesus was his Master, his Lord, his Savior.
Ambokile’s father, the Inkanga, cursed his son—no longer was he welcome in his village. Meeting Pastor Otto face to face and hearing his words about God and the gift of salvation was a sacrificial encounter. It cost Pastor Otto his life; it cost Ambokile everything but his mortal soul.
Learning very quickly that life depended solely on God, Ambokile devoured every word in the Bible Pastor Otto gave him…a gift he treasured more than life itself. Although exiled from his people, he continued to battle the forces of evil—the shetani—day and night on his knees.
In the midnight hours he could hear the echo of his father’s voice as the name of his beloved Savior hissed past demonic lips. “Jeeesusss! My son is cursed and he will die!” The thick presence of evil this night was familiar. Sleep eluded him yet peace engulfed him. He was safe in his Father’s arms.
With Bible clutchced in hand, Ambokile jumped three stories down to a dirt road. Out of nowhere appeared a truck. The door swung open. The driver motioned for him to get in. Breathing a quick prayer, God provided yet another means of escape.
As the driver began to question him, Ambokile silently prayed for the right words, not wanting to miss an opportunity to share Jesus with his rescuer.
“I am a Christian. I am pursued by evil. My father, the Ikanga of the Msambi people, pledged to take my life. I will not easily succumb to his pursuit. I find refuge in my God.”
The driver stopped the truck and looked deep into Ambokile’s eyes. “I am Pastor Otto's son. The Lord sent me to take you away from here to a place where you will be safe. You have been found faithful in the eyes of the Lord.”
*The Lord's Prayer in Swahili
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