Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: The Family Home (05/29/08)
TITLE: Reluctant House Guests
By Angela M. Baker-Bridge
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“There’s a service tonight with a small group. You’ve got time for a nap, if that’s what you’re asking.”
“Good,” he muttered, shuffling toward our bedroom.
I wanted to join him, but still had to finalize the evening’s arrangements. Before leaving for our mission trip, we agreed to squeeze as many services into the schedule as possible; not realizing the toll 100-degree weather without air conditioning would take on us.
Walking to the missionary’s office, I wiped perspiration from my brow as I prayed. “Lord, help me overcome this weariness.”
“Your driver picks you up 7PM as distance is not far.” Our interpreter grinned. He was such a positive man, a true blessing to us.
7PM came and went, then 7:30, 8:00, and 8:30. Our driver never showed. Tired, we decided to call it a night and headed to our rooms. My husband loosened his tie as our van’s horn blasted outside.
“No way. What time is it?” he asked.
Looking at my watch, I couldn’t believe it was 9PM. Rushing to the entryway, I saw our interpreter. “Your driver came to take you,” he explained, still grinning.
“Isn’t it too late?” My voice pleaded.
“Oh no! Our people never miss chance to hear American preacher’s sent by God.” He waved his hand toward the door. Quickly I gathered our group, my Bible, and my music. We loaded the van and left.
“So, where is the church we’re visiting tonight?” my husband asked the driver.
“Oh, no church, pastor sir.”
“Are we meeting in some other building?”
“Oh, no building, pastor sir.”
Laughing, I thought it was time I explained. “A Bible school student will be planting a new church several villages from here. We’re meeting in his family’s home.” I could hear moaning throughout the van.
Abruptly our driver turned off the pavement onto a dirt road. The farther he drove on that bumpy path, the darker it became. We found ourselves in an area without electricity. Occasionally a flickering lantern glowed inside one of the many grass-roofed mud huts we passed. It felt as if we were going as far from civilization as possible. The hush in the van was unnerving.
Finally, the van stopped in the middle of nowhere. “What’s wrong?” I asked.
“Now we walk,” announced the driver.
Reaching for my flashlight, I realized in my rush, I left the bag of flashlights in the entryway. For a group of ten people, we only had one gas lantern. “Stay in a tight huddle,” I instructed everyone.
“Oh, no huddle madam, straight line through rice paddy.”
Slowly, in pitch darkness, we made our way on the narrow mud path through the rice fields, following our guide with the lantern, like a line of circus elephants, holding on the best we could to whoever was in front of us. The slightest slip of our feet to the right or left would mean falling into murky waters.
When I thought nothing else could be more frightening, I heard the faint rhythm of drums beating. The longer we walked, the louder the drums. My heart pounded faster and faster as I realized where I’d heard that sound before, in every movie depicting cannibal tribes I’d ever seen. The air became heavy with the smell of burning wood, the fire’s glow faintly visible on the horizon. Finally close enough to distinguish shapes against the soft light; I recognized a fence of wooden stakes surrounding the village. My breathing became shallow, fearing the unknown.
Silently I prayed, “Lord did you bring us here to be slaughtered?” I fought back tears.
Moments later, our host greeted us at the end of the path. He escorted us to a row of folding chairs near his hut. He placed our lantern, the only light, on a table. Due to the hour, we started the service immediately. Before preaching, my husband announced his Bible text. What followed was the loudest rustling of pages I’ve ever heard. Startled, I strained to see its source. My eyes adjusting, I discovered people sitting on the ground, in trees, crowded on roofs, and in neighboring huts. They had waited hours for us.
We almost didn’t go, reluctant just to minister in a family’s home in a remote uncivilized village, three hours late. Yet, I encountered a God there* who is not restricted to church buildings, fancy homes, electricity, or our schedule.
*"For where two or three come together in my name, there am I with them." Matthew 18:19-21 (NIV)
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