Be on the Lookout for "God Incidences"

The wrong road led to a wonderful witness.
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Some people mistakenly refer to inexplicable, uncanny, timely, and/or especially appropriate happenings as coincidences. But Christians need to recognize them as God incidences. Deuteronomy 4:9 backs this idea, "Only be careful, and watch yourselves closely so that you do not forget the things your eyes have seen or let them fade from your heart as long as you live. Teach them to your children and to their children after them."

Hopefully, reading about the following "God incident" will help you become attuned to such incidences in your own life.

Our son David and his wife Myriam are missionaries in Angola, Africa. He went there to serve as a pastor and Myriam as a medical doctor.

Life in the town of Luena, which is located in eastern Angola, is much like what you would see in a National Geographic magazine. All of Angola is slowly recovering from a 27-year civil war, which started when the Portuguese left the country. The war was between two major parties over who would take the reins of leadership in Angola. The war finally ended in 2001, but there are still remnants of bombed airplanes and abandoned tanks sitting around Luena. Minefields in the surrounding area are still being cleared to make the fields usable again. Within the city, electricity is available for only a few hours a day. Having a generator is definitely a gift, as long as it functions without need of repair. Water comes unfiltered from a river. Luena looks like it could have been a beautiful city at one time; on its outskirts, you see grass huts and a more primitive lifestyle.

With that bit of background, let me get to the God incident.

Shortly after arriving, David and Sebastian, a doctor who worked in the clinic with Myriam, were on their way to purchase some lumber that would be used to remodel the clinic. What passes for lumber there looks very different from what you would see at your neighborhood Home Depot. Their lumber consists of long, reasonably straight branches that have been cut from nearby trees, often used in the construction of roofs.

David and Sebastian were traveling to a certain village where Sebastian had arranged to get the needed lumber. Although Sebastian had directions to the village, neither he nor David had ever been there. As they traveled into the bush, it kept getting thicker and thicker until they came to a small group of huts at the end of the dirt road. Curious people came out to take a look at two white men in a white vehicle in this isolated location. David asked Sebastian if this was the place, to which Sebastian answered no. They were lost.

Sebastian greeted the people, explaining their situation as best as he could. The people assured David and Sebastian that they had some recently cut lumber.

As they were on their way to get the lumber with the village men, David asked if they had a church in their village. The men said that there was a Catholic church in a distant village, but that it was too far for them to walk to and so no one attended. David and Sebastian tried in their limited Chokwe language to ask if they knew about God. Silence followed. Then they repeated the question, saying "Zambi," the Chokwe word for God, and to this the men shook their heads. Then they asked them if they knew about Jesus. After some discussion among themselves, the men said they didn't know this Jesus. David and Sebastian again tried in their limited Chokwe to tell them about who Jesus is and why we all need him. After picking up the lumber, they prayed with the men and took them back to their village. A burden remained in David's heart for the village that had no Christian witness.

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