Guest / Limited Access /

As a kid, I loved Mission Sundays, when missionaries on furlough brought special reports in place of a sermon. Sometimes they wore exotic, foreign clothing; they almost always showed a tray of slides documenting their adventures. If they were from a dangerous enough land, the youth in our congregation would emerge from our Sunday stupor and listen intently.

There is one visit I've never forgotten. The missionaries were a married couple stationed in what appeared to be a particularly steamy jungle. I'm sure they gave a full report on churches planted or commitments made or translations begun. I don't remember much of that. What has always stayed with me is the story they shared about a snake.

One day, they told us, an enormous snake—much longer than a man—slithered its way right through their front door and into the kitchen of their simple home. Terrified, they ran outside and searched frantically for a local who might know what to do. A machete-wielding neighbor came to the rescue, calmly marching into their house and decapitating the snake with one clean chop.

The neighbor reemerged triumphant and assured the missionaries that the reptile had been defeated. But there was a catch, he warned: It was going to take a while for the snake to realize it was dead.

A snake's neurology and blood flow are such that it can take considerable time for it to stop moving even after decapitation. For the next several hours, the missionaries were forced to wait outside while the snake thrashed about, smashing furniture and flailing against walls and windows, wreaking havoc until its body finally understood that it no longer had a head.

Sweating in the heat, they had felt frustrated and a little sickened but also grateful that the ...

Subscriber access only You have reached the end of this Article Preview

To continue reading, subscribe now. Subscribers have full digital access.

Read These NextSee Our Latest
RecommendedA United Evangelical Response: The System Failed Eric Garner
A United Evangelical Response: The System Failed Eric Garner
What pastors, professors, and others are saying about the grand jury's decision not to indict.
TrendingPope Francis Learns What Rick Warren, Russell Moore, N. T. Wright Think about Marriage
Pope Francis Learns What Rick Warren, Russell Moore, N. T. Wright Think about Marriage
(UPDATED) Warren turns Vatican conference into 'revivalist meeting,' while Moore explains why marriage crosses theological boundaries.
Editor's PickSt. Nick, Patron of Pawn Shops
St. Nick, Patron of Pawn Shops
The little-known history of Christianity’s icon of generosity.
Comments
Christianity Today
Satan's a Goner
hide thisFebruary February

In the Magazine

February 2011

To continue reading, subscribe now for full print and digital access.