Previous Challenge Entry (Level 1 – Beginner)
Topic: South America (02/05/09)
- TITLE: Hanging in the Balance
By Ruth Ann Moore
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Menacing shrieks assaulted us as the men edged closer and closer. I instinctively reached for my husband; flailing fingers grasping for the comfort of his hand. With the crocodile infested, Casiquiares River behind us, and the warriors lining the clearing and embankment before us, there was no escape.
“We mean you no harm,” my husband called out in a clear voice, using the dialect of a neighboring Yanomano tribe. Still the warriors maintained their guarded approach, unheeding our words.
A flash of movement caught our attention from the land above the clearing. As we turned we saw a warrior fall to the waters below, his body disappearing into its inky depths. My husband tore from my grasp, and plunged into the churning river after the fallen man. The remaining warriors screamed in excitement, and charged towards me and the water’s edge. Time and sound became faint to my senses as I took in both the Indians hostile advance and the place where my husband’s body had disappeared from sight; my heart’s cry rocketing heavenward, with words I could not utter.
Moments etched themselves in painstaking finality. Then, in a rush of spray, my husband’s head and upper-torso burst forth from the clutches of the river, his lungs burning for air. Against him he pulled the body of the Indian man, his form unmoving. Blood gushed from the wound on his head and was now mixing with the flowing current; an invitation for predators couched within.
“The bag!” My husband called, pulling me from my terror.
Courage, I didn’t know I possessed, drove me forward as I reached for the water-proof satchel at the front of our boat, and hurried past spears and machetes, to help with the injured man. I dumped its contents haphazardly on the silt shore, then grabbed the first aid kit, while my husband administered CPR. The voices around us continued as we worked desperately to save the injured man’s life. Before long he coughed and sputtered, draining the fluid from his lungs. We eased back on our heels, giving him space to recover, only to be met by the other warriors’ weapons within inches of our bodies.
From the trees emerged an elder of the tribe. Speaking his command to the people, they moved aside, giving way for his step. He looked straight at my husband, and then to our scattered belongings on the ground; his severe face not betraying his emotion. Using his own finely pointed spear, he reached out and touched the one item which defined our mission. In our disbelief he then said in stilted English, “Bible”.
In the months to come, as we learned the language, the elder told us his story. As a child, he was rescued from certain death by a lone missionary; who intern would lose his own life. Not, however, before the man had given the lad his Bible, and taught him that one word. That missionary’s faithfulness and sacrifice effectively tilled the spiritual ground in preparation for us to plant seeds of the gospel. Together, we are reaping the harvest; with many lives saved unto eternity. It has taught us that one must never let their duty to the Lord fall, as there are always souls hanging in the balance.
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