March 6, 2006
In January, three years ago, I wrote to you about a man named Abraham who lived in a small farming village called CHILONGA in Zambia. Abraham is a brother-in-law to one of our Methodist pastors, Pastor Royd. Royd mentioned to me just before Christmas in 2003 that Abraham tried to commit suicide two times. I was told, he was 50 years old and "He's deeply depressed". Royd explained that at the age of 22 Abraham lost the use of his legs due to polio or a stroke of some kind. This kind a situation often is thought of as the work of sorcery and family relatives. He said Abraham was living in a small African mud-nut with his 80 years old mother and two older brothers. However, part of his depression was because his two brothers died that year unexpectedly.
So, while Sandy, Nathan and I were away in South Africa for our Christmas celebration that year, God put a burden on my heart for Abraham. I just could not get away from thinking about him and wondering what could be done to help him.
As soon as we got back to Zambia I talked with Pastor Royd and we felt that one of the PET handicap bikes we build might help relieve Abraham’s depression (PET for- Personal Energy Transportation). So, we got a PET and went to find him. CHILONGA village is deep in the bush about 90km from the New Life Center. January is right in the middle of rainy season. All I’ll say about that is, after getting stuck for the fourth time, “No good deed goes unpunished”.
Once we found this little farming village we also found Abraham’s hut. We were invited in to sit down by Abraham’s mother. It was your standard small, dark, drippy hut. It was still raining outside. After visiting a bit, I started to talk with Abraham personally, just trying to minister to him. He was just sitting on a mat next to mother with a blanket around him. I was saying all the right stuff; that God loved him and that I loved him, but after a bit he asked this question, "If God loves me, why would God take my brothers, who were strong and healthy, and leave me here? I can't even help my old mother?” It was one of those unexpected moments and one of the saddest situations I have ever seen or been in. To be honest, it left me speechless. All I could hear the Lord saying was, PRAY- PRAY RIGHT NOW.
So I obeyed and prayed. That prayer was short, sweet, and to the point. I prayed, “Lord you have had this dear man on my heart for weeks, and you brought us out here on this wet, muddy day. It’s time you do something. Break this spirit of depression and do something special to bring hope back into Abraham’s life…. In Jesus name, Amen”.
Royd and I got up and went outside to get the PET off the vehicle. However, before we could even get it down Abraham’s mother called us back saying “come quickly…. Miracle-miracle!”. As we went back into the hut there was Abraham standing on his feet! They were getting him dressed to bring outside. As they started to lift him up to put on his pants, he just stood up! "It’s a miracle", they all said! This was the first time in twenty-eight years he had stood on his feet! I love watching God work!! His mother and other family members just started praising God!
Abraham did not walk that day, but you could see our Lord was at work. We brought him outside and put him in the PET. Daylight revealed how weak he had become down through the years. But he had no trouble using that PET. The smile on his face said everything! I said to him, “The next time I see you I believe you’ll be walking”.
Now, it’s three years later, March 2006. Pastor Royd’s brother also lives in the CHILONGA village. He too is a Methodist pastor. He has been asking me to come back and preach at some point. He has been sending reports to Royd that Abraham is walking all over the place and not even using the PET anymore. I have wanted to visit with Abraham and see for myself for some time, but the opportunity never presented itself. As I have been praying about this the Lord said, “Go now”. So this past Sunday, Royd and I went back to CHILONGA.
Guess what, it’s rainy season again. Guess what, God still has His sense of humor. I guess He feels I do my best in the mud. Anyway…
As we got to the CHILONGA UMC it was completely empty. Not one person. I’m standing inside this little African chapel and it was leaking, even all over me. I was starting to have some bad thoughts about God and His sense of humor. I hope you know it’s okay to fight and argue with God. You never win, but it’s okay.
After 30 minutes or so had passed the pastor finally showed up. He asked, “Didn’t you get my message not to come today? It’s too rainy and muddy to come out on a day like this”. Those bad thoughts and a few choice word where coming back. However, that’s normally when God whispers in my ear and His Spirit tells me what to do. I simply said, “The Lord sent me”.
He turned around, went outside to the back of the church, and started banging on an old truck wheel-hub. That was the church bell. We went back inside and sat down. In about another 30 minutes, one by one, the church filled up. I would say there was 80 to 90 people ended up coming. However, NO Abraham. We started the service, sang a few songs, made a few announcements and the pastor turned the service over to me.
Royd translated the service into Bemba for me. He always does a great job. Royd and I have become real close down through the years. He is a real brother that loves our Lord.
The message was “What’s so special about Jesus”. It’s all based on why Jesus and not John the Baptist, or the Apostle Paul, or even Abraham, or any of the other prophets or known gods at that time. Why Jesus? AND what did Jesus mean, in Mathew 27, when he said, “My God- my God, why have you forsaken me”? AND what was so significant about that veil being ripped from the top to the bottom?
I’m tempted to write out the whole message for you, but it would be best if you just came to Africa on a wet muddy day to get the real powerful affect. The good news is, God did come and visit with us and the true message of Jesus’ birth, death and resurrection was spoken to a people that really need the Lord.
To my surprise, at some point as I was speaking, Abraham had slipped in the church and was sitting right up front. As I came to the end of the message I was compelled to ask, “Is there someone here today that wants to make this Jesus Lord of his or her life? You come right now and I will pray with you and lead you through a time of confession with Jesus.”
I no sooner said those words, and Abraham jumped up and walked right up to me and laid his head on my shoulder. He was crying and shaking. I put my arms around him and just hugged him. I felt like a father holding his son.
As we stood there I asked, “Is there anyone else?”, but no one moved. They just stared at us. Someone started to sing a soft song and all bowed their heads. As Abraham and I started to pray I looked into his eyes and I could see that his dear precious mind was still fighting some depression. I asked him, “Did you understand what was said in the message?” He said, with a clear loud voice, “YES”. Royd was standing there too and I asked him to lead, in Bemba, a prayer of confession. I really wanted Abraham to know what he was asking from God. As Abraham repeated each word all I could do was cry with joy. I think everyone in the church felt the same way. You could see Jesus in every corner of that little chapel.
After Royd and Abraham had finish praying, I asked him if he wanted something else from God. He said, “Pray again that God would completely heal me”. I knew he meant his depression. As I laid my hand on him the words came so easy. “He that had started a good work in you will see it to the end”. I could just feel the Holy Spirit move in his body. I love God, He is so faithful to keep everyone of His promises.
As I was praying others started to come, asking us to pray for healing too. Mothers brought their babies. Young ladies asked for healing in their marriages. Older folks asked for the pain in their bodies to go away. Even the pastor asked for God to give him a more effective ministry.
I just believe God did so many wonderful things on Sunday. I just wonder if even those raindrops weren’t the cleansing Holy Spirit Himself.
Moments with God,
UMC Missionary- Zambia, March 2006
Foot note... Abraham went home to Jesus in 2009. I traveled to Chilonga for another Sunday service on March 25 2012. His mother is still living and say to me, “I’m so happy because I’m going to see him again in heaven!”.