Kenneth Miller

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Kept By The Power of God

“They’re going to kill us! They’re going to kill us!” Joshua’s voice shrills from the back seat, high with fear. My own adrenaline is racing with fear and shock. We are in a nightmare; the kind of horrible nightmare that brings a rush of relief when one finally wakes up.

But in this case there is no waking up because we are already very wide-awake and the nightmarish events unfolding around us are only too real. It is shortly after one P.M. on November 6, 2000. We are being pursued by a fanatical mob armed with clubs, machetes, and stones.

This is Africa, a land of fickle emotions, where just a small spark can ignite mob frenzy and where gruesome machete murders are not uncommon. It seems quite possible that Joshua’s worst fears will soon be realized-- unless we can outrun our pursuers.

As we speed along the narrow track in our 4-wheel drive Toyota Pajero, I am praying some of the most desperate prayers of my life. “God help us! God show me where to go!” I am acutely conscious that the lives of Joshua Otieno and Gene Beachy as well as my own depend on finding a way out of this trap.

When we arrived in Kenya with our five children in the fall of 2000 for a four-month stint as temporary replacement missionaries under Amish Mennonite Aid, the possibility of this sort of disaster did not enter our minds. We were too busy enjoying that exciting time known as “The Honeymoon.” Those first few weeks in Kenya were hectic, but deeply satisfying.

Now, six weeks after our arrival on the mission field, I am discovering how helpless I really am.

Glass crumbles from shattered windows (broken in the initial encounter) as we bounce along. I am squinting at the landscape of the Kano Plain with one good eye, desperately looking for a way of escape. But the terrain all looks the same; flat, monotonous plain, dotted with patches of scrubby growth through which we are now dodging. For the moment we are safe. We are far ahead of the deadly mob. We are singing “Jesus Keep Me Near the Cross.”

But any temporary illusions of safety soon vanish in the harsh African sunshine as we enter a vast open area-the rice fields south of Ahero. We are perhaps one and one fourth miles ahead of the mob, but one or two miles from the nearest road with no idea how to get there. We are lost, plain and simple, in the worst of circumstances.

“Follow the trees, maybe they’ll lead us to Leila!” Gene implores. Far in the distance is a row of trees. If we can just reach those trees, maybe we’ll find a track leading to the main Nairobi road. I aim for the trees.

We are now following what seems to be a natural pathway along the northern perimeter of the rice fields. On the right side are the bumpy rice fields with the main Nairobi road perhaps two miles on the other side. On the left side is the vast interior of the Kano plains stretching 12-15 miles to the Nandi Hills.

Suddenly, our forward progress is arrested by what seems to be a dry riverbed. I stop our trusty Nissan and peer down over the bank.

To our rear, large numbers of black figures can be seen running our way. “They’re coming! Cross over to the other side!” Joshua shouts.

But I look down into the depression ahead and the banks on either side look dangerously steep and there are mounds of earth in the middle. I am afraid an attempt at crossing here may end up in disaster; a stuck vehicle in the middle of a vast open area with nowhere to hide. I am in no shape to attempt a foot race.

So, with a natural barrier in front, and with hordes of angry men to our rear, we bow our heads and turn to our Sovereign God, who has ever been a very Present Help in time of trouble. I have never prayed more sincerely in all my life. There is no pretense, there are no high-sounding phrases, no unnecessary words. It is the prayer of drowning Peter, “LORD SAVE ME!”

“Dear God, you know we are lost with no idea how to get out of here. The mob is coming. Please show us what to do!”

I open my eyes and look up across the riverbed and what I see in the distance nearly “freezes my blood.” On the other side of the river I see more black figures gathering. “Dear God! We are trapped!”

Believing it would be suicidal to try to cross and face the gathering crowd on the other side, I turn the vehicle around and head back in the direction we had come from, desperately looking for a pathway through the rice fields, now to our left. But there was none.

We were now heading directly toward the main mob and the distance between us is closing rapidly. People seem to be fanning toward us from front and rear. Our options are becoming more limited by the second.

Finally, I turn the wheel hard to the left, and in a desperate attempt to reach the main Nairobi road begin to bounce across the rice fields. It is the roughest ride of our lives, “seat to ceiling” as Gene describes it later. I am wrestling with the wheel, trying to avoid the worst of the bumps and glancing out the window now and then to observe the progress of the main mob, now to our right.

We cover perhaps half mile in this fashion when we strike a raised embankment, a levee used to manipulate the flow of water in the rice fields. The rear axle lodges against the top of this obstacle and we shudder to a halt. I desperately race the engine and ram the gears from forward to reverse in an attempt to rock the vehicle loose, but it is no use. The howling mob, with machetes upraised is now just a few hundred yards away and I know it is all over.

“Gene are you ready to die?” “Yes”, he replies, quietly but with assurance “Joshua are you ready?” “Yes, Pastor Ken,” came the fearful reply.

We exit the vehicle knowing it is futile to run. We kneel in the dirt side by side with bowed heads and commit our lives to God. Only He can save us now.

The pounding feet come close and the blows begin fall. The first blows are quite painful but then-- a merciful numbness. Gene and Joshua are both struck on the skull with pongas, the African machete that can split a human skull wide open like a watermelon. (Machete slashes that had cut right through the metal hood of the vehicle were found later.)

It should have been over in five minutes.

How did we manage to get ourselves into such a desperate situation in the first place and how is it possible that we are alive today and able to tell this story?

That is the rest of the story.

It is a story of the grace and mercy of a Sovereign God Who is never in a hurry but Who is always on time.

It is the very same story that is being written today in the lives of people who in complete helplessness reach out to ALMIGHTY GOD and are amazed to discover what happens when faith links human impotence to DIVINE OMNIPOTENCE. For a number of years, ugly but absurd rumors about the AMA mission churches had been circulated by a few people. Things like: “These white people and their churches are devil worshippers who steal children and suck their blood.” “The missionaries get people to come to church by filling their shoes with money.” There were even death threats. But political smears are not uncommon in Kenya and so far it had been all bark and not much bite.

In the weeks leading up to the Nov. 6th incident, some people in the Okana area were becoming decidedly unfriendly, and the ugly rumors surfaced once again. A young man named Gilbert who lived in the Okana area had just started attending the mission church. He was the first and only son in the family compound to show interest in the mission church, and his clan was strongly opposed. To make matters worse, Gilbert invited church members to his home for a Bible study. A virulent backlash resulted. Tribal jealousies run deep in Africa and the fact that we were helping a poor widow lady in the Okana area build a house may have contributed to the ill feelings.

At any rate on Nov. 5th, which was a Sunday, Gilbert and another Okana brother Gordon, came to church with heavy hearts. During testimony time after the message Gordon and Gilbert spoke about the uproar in Okana village. “During a counsel meeting in the Okana area,” they said, “Two chiefs publicly voiced their opposition to the devil worshippers’ Bible study at Gilbert’s house and declared they would have him arrested for hosting it.” There was a long discussion that Sunday about these matters. People were very supportive of Gilbert and shared many words of encouragement with him. I read some verses from the Beatitudes regarding the Christian’s attitude in the midst of persecution, never dreaming I would need them the following day. We concluded that we should be willing to endure persecution and that Gilbert in particular should “…endure hardness as a good soldier of Jesus Christ.” In closing we sang—in rousing African fashion—a verse of “Onward Christian Soldiers.” The next day was Monday, November 6th, and I got out of bed that morning with no inkling of the trials God would allow us to experience that day.

We were not quite finished with family time, as I remember, when there was a knock at the door. “Tom Mboya has been gored by a bull, and must be taken to the hospital immediately!” was the message. Visions of a gory mess spilling from a human torso filled my mind as Gene Beachy and I prepared to leave. We threw on a wheel chair just in case it would be of use. Joshua Otieno, who happened to be at the compound that morning, got into the vehicle with us.

Tom was and his lovely wife Gorety live on the outskirts of Okana. To reach their house we must drive East from the mission compound about seven miles and turn left onto the dirt road at the Okana stage (bus station). After two or three miles of bumpy road we park the vehicle in the shade of trees beside the road and begin the hike back to Tom’s house. It’s a walk of about a mile with the most interesting feature being a swamp that can either be walked through in dry weather (easy) or walked across on a rickety bridge in wet weather. (Much more exciting.) Upon reaching his house we discovered to my great relief that the wound was not as bad as we had feared, “just” a severe muscle wound in the left thigh. Walking for him was very painful so we sat him in the rather rickety wheel chair and pushed him down the path and across the fields toward the vehicle. The going was a bit tough and brought flashes of pain to Tom’s face as we bumped along as carefully as we could. After hobbling across the swamp on foot he finally slumped into the vehicle with great relief.

Arriving at the hospital in Ahero at around 9:30, I soon learned that the health care system in Kenya is not what we have come to expect here in the U.S. Dear Tom had to wait a long time for treatment. While he waited, Gene, Joshua and I had to run hither and yon to buy supplies for dressing the wound. We had to supply syringes, the sutures for stitching and rubber gloves. Finally when we thought we had collected all the necessary materials, the nurse informed me they still lacked razor blades. So I had to make yet another trip to a nearby shop to purchase some. Needless to say I was a bit frustrated with the Kenyan health care system. At around 12:00 pm we were finally leaving the hospital. By this time Tom was walking with even more difficulty. I tried to think of a way to get Tom home across the swamp and over the fields. (The wheelchair was coming apart and virtually useless.) I thought of trying to hire a bike and have someone push him back.

I also remembered that Tom had mentioned there is a way to his house using an interior route that bypasses the swamp. We finally decided that was the best option. Around 12:15 we found ourselves turning off the main dirt road onto a grassy lane near the Okana Nursery School. This is not far from Gilbert’s house—the center of the Okana controversy. A feeling of unease came over me when I saw it was not a well-traveled route, but I reasoned we needed to get Tom home somehow. We soon met two men who were walking and I asked Tom to request permission from them to proceed further. “No problem,” they assured us.

So we drove on, but my feelings of apprehension never completely left, especially when the track faded out and we were trying to follow tire marks on the grass. Once we lost the tracks but Tom get us reoriented and soon we were at his house. I walked the short distance with him to his house and went over the instructions for treating the wound and taking the medication. Around 12:45, the three of us, Joshua, Gene and I we were ready for the journey home. As we began driving back, the same apprehensions returned. Would we be able to find our way out of this sensitive area with its maze of tracks and trails? But I felt fairly confident that with Joshua riding along we could find our way. We made it about halfway without trouble , even across the area where the trail was hardly visible. But somewhere we missed a crucial right turn. About 150 yards farther, we realized what must have happened. But since we were very near a house we decided to ask for directions. So Joshua got out and talked with the lady of the house and she directed us to go a little farther and then turn right.

This led us toward another house and the people there pointed us in the same westerly route toward the main dirt road. After reaching a dead end at the end of a field we backtracked just a little and squeezed through a narrow place in a hedgerow onto a well-traveled track. As we turned left onto the track, we saw a group of ladies at a well. Joshua got out and called to them across the distance. They responded to us in a high-pitched, excited tone of voice. “Strange,” I thought. “Why are these ladies so excited?”

It was probably just as well that neither Gene nor I could understand what was being trumpeted across the fields by those ladies. “KAJINJA!!”, they shouted, “KAJINJA!!” It was an alarm cry. Roughly translated it means, “THE CHILD KIDNAPPERS ; THE BLOOD-SUCKERS ARE HERE!!”

But I drove on, unaware of any danger. Now I was confident we would be at the main road in short order. The direction was right and the track was well traveled. I felt quite sure we would come out to the road very near the place we had entered. But the track led up to a compound with a group of houses clustered inside. I drove up to the gate, not realizing at first that it was the entrance to a compound. (What I did not realize was that the main track apparently veered off the to the right around the compound and intersected with the main dirt road scarcely a hundred yards away.) As we drew near the gate, suddenly a man carrying a ponga, (machete) crossed the road right in front of us. Several more men with pongas appeared on the right. I stopped the vehicle.

Their faces were angry, almost demonic, with pure hatred oozing their eyes. CRASH! I was stunned to see rocks crashing toward us into the windshield and windows. “Dear God, what is happening!?” It was not hard to see we were in extreme danger. We were partly inside the compound gate. Straight ahead perhaps 150 feet away behind the houses was the opposite wall of the compound, a shrubby hedge. For a crazy moment I thought of trying to escape by crashing through the hedge on the other side, but I could not see what lay beyond. More men were running now, angry men, shouting and throwing rocks; brandishing clubs and pongas. I sat behind the wheel with glass shattering around me, frozen in shock. What should I do? Turn around somehow and go back? GO BACK WHERE? “Talk to them.” “I must talk to them,” the thought was urgent. I began to open the door. “Pastor Ken, don’t get out!!” Joshua shouted, (if my memory serves me correctly.) But I got out and faced the men and spread out my open hands to them in what I hoped was a gesture of peace. “Peace,” I said desperately. “Peace. We are here in peace. We are only trying to find our way to the road. Can you please take us to the road.” But trying to calm down this frenzy was like trying to calm down a tornado. Meanwhile Peter Odep was washing His clothes a few hundred feet away and meanwhile a Loving Father in Heaven was about to demonstrate once again that He is never in a hurry but always on time.

They’re killing someone!” thought Peter Odep as he races toward the neighbor’s compound. A man yanks open the back passenger door and begins to pull Gene out of the vehicle. “I’m going to kill you!” he spits in his face. Gene focuses on his eyes, those burning eyes. “No, don’t kill us,” Gene begs him. “Please help us!” In a pivotal moment the man inexplicably releases Gene. Back in the vehicle Gene sees me outside. My attempt at dialogue has not gone very well. and I’m surrounded by shouting, shoving men. I am stumbling, staggering, trying to fend off blows. One man is brandishing a ponga above my head and Gene sees him trying to find an opening. Expecting the death blow to fall at any moment Gene is thinking “It’s all over for Ken.” Peter Odep rushes over and with a burst of strength shoves the man away. “GET INTO THE VEHICLE” he shouts at me. “LEAVE!” Somehow, by the grace of God, I make it back inside and ram the Safari in reverse.

In a hail of stones we are leaving the scene. “LEFT, TURN LEFT,” Peter shouts. I don’t hear Peter and neither does Gene. (Perhaps he was speaking in Luo.) Joshua understands, but fearing a trap, orders, “Go direct, go direct!” I aim the vehicle straight down the track and we roar out of the compound and pass right by the escape route to the left. Peter sees us miss the turn and thinks to himself, “These people are going to get killed now!” He begins to run after us, praying for strength.

Our nightmarish ride has begun. We are crying out to God. People are streaming after us now, arming themselves with whatever weapons they can find, pongas, stones, clubs. The events are spinning out of control and I feel dazed, utterly helpless and very afraid. But our Sovereign God, whose eye is on the sparrow, is completely in control of the situation and His hand is over us at every turn. Finally, we have reached the end. We are kneeling in the grass, the Safari is stuck in the rice field behind us, and the bloodthirsty mob is just a few yards away. But at that moment an amazing sense of peace comes over me. It is the supernatural Presence of A Loving Father who has ever been a very present help in time of trouble.

The blows begin to fall and we know it is all over. We commit our souls to God. I am trying to focus on the person of Jesus, my Saviour who has promised to take me Home. Meanwhile Peter Odep is running with all his might , praying for strength to deliver us. But others have reached the scene ahead of him and the grisly work has begun. Peter looks out ahead and sees the three of us on the ground with two men standing over us, pongas raised high, in the very act of bringing down what may well have been the final blows. Something tells Peter what he must do.

Putting on one last burst of speed, Peter leaps onto the two men from behind wrapping an arm around each. The three crash to the ground together with Peter in the middle. Peter stabs one elbow to the left and the other to the right ramming both men in skull, putting both out of commission.

Although vastly outnumbered, Peter somehow fights off the attackers and they back away. We huddle together on the ground. It is an awful scene. Blood is pouring from a deep gash on Joshua’s skull and flowing down his face onto his shirt. Gene has also been slashed on his head with a ponga and the blood is flowing freely. His shirt is in tatters from the abuse. I have lesser injuries from a blow to the right eye in the initial encounter and from several minor blows to the head. We are bruised, battered and bloody, but we are still alive by the grace of God!

Someone finds a short length of rope from the Safari and our hands are bound together, linked in a common bond of helplessness.. I feel my wallet slip out of my hip pocket. Someone points to my watch. I slip it off and toss it to a lucky African. Later I feel the shoes slip off my feet. Feeling I might as well die giving things away, I remove my suspenders and toss them away too. We huddle around Peter like chicks around a mother hen. I look into his face and ask, “Will they kill us?” He looked at me and replied with an assurance that belied our desperate situation, “They won’t kill you. Everything will be O.K..” We look up at the circle of faces. Many faces are angry, twisted in hate. Others are merely scornful, mocking. Still others are curious; even indifferent. Perhaps 150-200 people are surrounding us.

The noise inside the circle ranges from a steady roar to a frenzied thunder. Sitting there inside that circle of death I am as helpless as a baby. I glance from time to time to the Safari which is now being looted. “What if I could break lose, fire up the engine, rock her loose, blast out of here and save us all? The hopeless fantasy playing through my mind comes to an abrupt end as I heard the sound of escaping air and realize they are now releasing the air from the tires.

The reality hits me. These folks really do mean business. We will not escape. We know our only hope is for outside help to arrive in time. I am praying that somehow word will get to the police in time. But it seems there will not be much time. In a dull sort of way I observe that a blanket has been thrown onto our laps and that a fire is burning in the grass just a short distance away. Why is there a fire burning on a hot day in this place, of all places? The awful possibility lingers on the fringes of Gene’s mind. Joshua endures the horror of hearing the people discuss various options for our execution one of which involves the fire ready in the grass nearby.

I decide to follow the Apostle Paul’s example and make an appeal to our citizenship. “Americans! We are Americans,” I said, fervently hoping to see some response of respect. But they are rocking the Safari from side to side as if to test something. Now it becomes obvious that the air has been released only on one side and the vehicle is tilting heavily to the right. Now they are pulling us to our feet and we are forced to sit on the low side, the vehicle tilting rather ominously in our direction.

It feels good to me to be able to sit in the shade with my back to the vehicle with only half a circle to worry about. Gene however realizes the implications immediately and Joshua hears the plan being discussed in Luo. “We’ll push the vehicle over… and set it on fire,” they were saying. It was a great idea, a simple and painless way to dispose of these devil worshippers without even getting their hands dirty.

But in the nick of time our sovereign God sends Ongudi Oula. He is accordian player who is well liked and respected by the Okana people. Somehow he persuades the crowd to move us away and once again we find ourselves seated on the grass in the harsh African sunshine while our fate is being decided. Children, curious and innocent, move to the inside of the circle. We sing to the children. We sing “Jesus Loves Me” and “My God Is So Big” with the motions. Don’t ask how we can do that. It isn’t us at all, it is the grace of God “supplying our need according to His riches in glory” at a time we are utterly helpless. Joshua, poor tortured man, hears another plan being discussed. This time the method of execution is the “African necklace”, a tire stripped around the victims neck and set ablaze. Somehow this plan is never carried out either.Our feelings oscillate between hopeful tension and fearful tension. But underneath everything is a calm assurance that whether we live or die, all is well. After what seems like an eternity, but what is actually only about an hour and ten minutes, I see the crowd parting to make way for a man who seems to carry some authority. He has a sheaf of papers under is arm. My hopes soar. Here is our saviour I think to myself. Surely he has the authority to stop this madness. I crawl to him and look up at him like the beggar I was.

“Please save us, I plead with him.” “We were only here on a medical emergency and were attacked by mistake. We love the people of Africa and are here to help them.” But the man-- who is actually the village councilor--does not seem to understand. Raising his arm he hushes the crowd. “Thank God he is going to call them off!!” But we are in for a cruel surprise. Instead of stopping the violence he incites it further. “Why have you delayed?” he says in Luo. “Why have you not finished your task?” After he finishes his little speech, we have no question which side he is on. A roar of approval erupts from the crowd and the blows begin to fall again as the councilors’ words take effect The end seems very near once again.

Sooner or later we knew the vehicle would be torched. A sinking feeling grabs my stomach as I observe smoke rising from the rear of the Safari. I feel sick. “There goes at least $10,000.00.” But we are still alive, at least for the moment. After the counselor had finished his speech, the crowd erupted again in a frenzy of violence and the ordeal seemed very close to its conclusion. But amazingly, the beating tapered off and Pete Odep was once again left standing guard over his pitiful charges.

Now we are sitting in the grass, contemplating our fate as the mission vehicle burns in front of our eyes, belching black smoke toward the sky. A feeling of dread lingers in my mind. I decide if we are thrown in alive I will do everything in my power to burst out the other side. I’d rather die running than burning.Without warning we are being pulled to our feet. They are pulling us toward the vehicle leaving no doubts about their intentions. We are about to be thrown into the fire.

At that moment I am thinking of Missionary Staines and his two sons who had been incinerated inside their vehicle in Orissa State, India, nearly two years before. “Dear God, are we going to die like that?”

Meanwhile, God was moving pieces on his intergalactic chess board.

One of those pieces was Puis, a believer who lived near the spot where we had turned around. After seeing us get bogged down in the rice fields he rushed off by bike to the Ahero police station, but an unsympathetic officer rebuffed his pleas for help. Leaving a message with Gordon, Puis raced back to the scene. Gordon desperately tried to call the mission compound, but the phones were down. Grabbing public transport, Gordon headed for the mission compound, 12 miles away, where Merle Beachy and Mark Keupfer were both preparing to leave on business. Bursting through the compound gates, Gordon arrived in the nick of time. (Merle and Mark should both have been gone by then, but were providentially delayed by a phone call and a flat tire.)

Together with Gordon, Mark and Merle raced back to Okana. Stopping at the District office, their pleas for help also fell on deaf ears. Further on they picked up Joshua’s wife who reported that that the men were bleeding badly because they had been slashed. Merle’s pleading, praying heart sank, his worst fears were being realized. Knowing that to venture into such a violent scene alone would be suicidal, they decided to make another attempt to get help. Rushing into the Ahero police station where Puce had earlier been turned down, Merle and Mark pleaded for help. Finally, four policemen policemen armed with AK-47’s piled in and they headed for the scene. Meanwhile back in the middle of the raging mob, the Sovereign hand of God was still at work.

As we are being jerked toward the burning vehicle we all instinctively dig in our heels and hold back. Peter, who apparently had been momentarily distracted, sees the commotion and rushes over. He kindly (from our end at least) makes arrangements for us to sit back down in the grass. A short time later, the vehicle explodes in a mass of flames. People push and shove to get away. Our funeral pyre is now too hot to approach and it is burning without human fuel, thank God.

We sit and wait in the harsh African sunshine, absolutely helpless, and completely dependant on the mercy and grace of a Loving Father in Heaven. (Actually, I doubt if we were any more dependent on the grace of God than we are on ordinary days, we were simply aware of our need more than ever before.)

Mothers push to the front of the crowd and join in the abuse. (Since they thought we were kidnapping their children, they felt justified in their actions.) A mother lays a butcher knife against Joshua’s ear and seems to be preparing to cut it off when Peter pushes here away.

Meanwhile, Mark Kuepfer is trying to coax every last bit of horse- power out of his red Cruiser as he and Merle along with Gordon and the policemen race to the scene. Upon reaching the general area, they are met by two believers on a bicycle who throw themselves into the dirt and begin to wail the death wail. Merle’s worst fears are confirmed. It is now a matter of rescuing the bodies--one of which is his own 17 year old son.

They round a corner and see the smoke and flames of the burning Safari far off in the distance. Bouncing across the rice fields they eventually get stuck on one of the levies. Bursting out of the vehicle they begin to sprint across the remaining distance, the policeman galloping like antelopes ahead of Merle and Mark.

We are sitting in the crowd, which is rapidly becoming very violent once again. I am thinking, “This can’t last forever. This man (Peter) can’t hold off the people much longer. Soon he’ll have to run to save his own hide.” I am trying to concentrate on my Saviour who is able to save to the uttermost.

Suddenly, a stir goes threw the crowd. I look up and notice that everyone is looking in one direction. I follow their gaze and see, with a dull sense of relief, that it is Mark’s red vehicle. Gene sees it too and never in his life has a vehicle appeared so welcome. Moments later we see figures dressed in brown leaping across the fields and to our amazement the crowd flees in panic, leaving us alone with the hiss of the burning Safari in the background, a testimony to the narrowness of our escape. Merle can hardly believe his eyes as three ghostly figures slowly rise up from the ground near the burning vehicle. Now we are hugging our rescuers--the tears mingling with the blood.

Puis, a big man with a tender heart, has come to help save us. Crying like a baby, he picks me up around the torso and starts to carry me to the vehicle. I am finally able to persuade him that walking is better, so he swings me back down and I make it the rest of the way on foot.

We are taken to the Ahga Khan hospital in Kisumu where the medical care was very adequate. After x-rays have determined there are no broken bones or internal injuries, we are released around 6:30 only 5 ½ hours after the beginning of the ordeal. It was glorious to be reunited with my family again. We gathered around the couch in the living room and poured out our thanks to God. That evening after a wonderful hot bath I walked to my children’s bedsides again and again, just looking at their faces—asleep, innocent and beautiful. GOD IS SO GOOD!

The emotional trauma was not easy. For a long time I struggled with fear, remorse and doubt. The second night after the incident, Joshua’s wife Lillian was awakened by Joshua’s excited voice. “Lillian, did you see the light?” “No,” Lillian replied. “What was it?” Here is Joshua’s story.

A beautiful brilliant white light came into the room during the night and hovered near the ceiling. Little lights emanated from all around the big light. A powerful melodious voice resonated from within the light. “I am Jesus,” the voice said, “And I have sent my three servants to show that I am the Son of God.” And then the room was dark. What comfort this story brought to our hearts!

Several distinct impressions from the incident remain.

To face death and be at peace is an incredible privilege made possible by the work of Christ. As we were waiting for death to come in the middle of the frenzied mob, I began to evaluate my standing before God. In my mind I saw God the Father and I knew I would soon stand before Him to give account for my life. But I was not afraid. I had a distinct impression of Christ standing between God and I, and as I feebly looked to Christ, peace flooded my soul. Blessed Jesus!

Also we should not think of our miraculous deliverance as an ultimate demonstration of God’s grace. To be Kept By The Power of God for 1 ½ hours inside a lynching mob is marvelous indeed. But something much more marvelous is happening in the lives of countless people all over the world every day.

To be Kept By The Power of God even for a single day in the midst of a demonic sinful world—now that is the ultimate demonstration of the wonderful keeping grace of God! At the close of this story, we as a family along with Merle Beachys would like to thank all of God’s people everywhere who were praying for us during this traumatic time. We felt the prayers of the saints in overwhelming ways and we are deeply grateful. Please continue to pray for Merle's family--specifically for Gene--as they carry on the work in Africa.

Submitted by Chester Weaver

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