Someone carelessly bumped into my arm, and the bag which I was holding fell from my grasp, and the letter which I had hastily stuffed into it spilled out on the ground. I quickly snatched them up. My eyes fell upon the often-read lines that one of my sisters was coming to meet me when my boat arrived in American after its long voyage from Africa just after the end of World War II.
From behind me I heard a voice calling my name. I turned around, searching the faces, and I saw a gloved hand waving above the heads of the milling crowd. I stopped and wearily leaned against the wall of an old trade store. I didn’t know whether that was Sarah, Ruth, or Hope that was there to meet me. Suddenly, the crowd thinned, and a young lady with a simple hat and dress looked around. Her eyes lit up with recognition when she saw me. She looked familiar, but oh, how much she had changed. A smile broke across her face, and she stopped a few steps away from me. I stared, stunned, this couldn’t be my sister Hope. Had I really been gone that long? Tears sprang to my eyes, this was indeed my baby sister that I hadn’t seen since she was a little girl.
“Hope,” I said, smiling through my tears, “it’s so good to see you again.” I dropped my bag and she ran into my arms and hugged me. We cried, holding each other, not caring about time or what other people thought. I released her and looked her in the face. “Oh Hope, you’ve grown so much.”
“I’m sorry I didn’t recognize you at first.” she said.
“Oh Faith, that’s ok, I look a lot older now. I’m so very glad that you’re home. You have to tell me about all your adventures, your letters seemed so short.”
I replied, “Do you know where we could sit down? I’m exhausted, and it looks like a storm is coming.”
“Sure, just down this road is a little Tea Shop. Come on, let’s go!”
“Now for your story please.” she said, after we were seated and had ordered our tea. “Well, where should I begin?” I asked.
“At the beginning of course.” Hope said.
“On the second of May, 1905, a baby was born to…”
“Not the very beginning!” she cut it. “I’m twenty-five years old now, you shouldn’t tease me.” Even as she said this, I could tell that she didn’t mind much at all. “I mean, you know, Faith, everything that happened while you were there!”
“Let’s see,” I replied, “what year was that?”
“I don’t need the date Faith, if I want the dates I can just look it up in your journal.”
“Ok, you want a long story, right?”
“Yes, of course!”
I was trying hard not to laugh at my sister, so I was relieved when the tea arrived. It gave me some time to look more serious.
“You still haven’t told me your story.” my sister finally reminded me. I drained the last bit of my tea from my cup and began. “After a long sea voyage, I finally reached the Port town of Quelinane in Mozambique. The missionary’s son met me there, and took me to the Mission Station. His name was Joseph, and he had a sister named Grace. I stayed there one year. After that, I felt like God was calling me to a different part of Africa, so I packed my bags and headed inland to work with the Smith Family, but I was not prepared for that trip.”
~ Mozambique Africa, 1925 ~
“What do you mean you can’t take me across the river right now?” I asked a young man standing beside his boat. I wasn’t fluent in the Native language yet, but I definitely understood what he was saying. He was the third fisherman I had spoken to that day, and they all said the same thing, that they couldn’t take me across the mighty Zambezi river because of hippos. The hippopotamus is the most deadly animal in Africa because they attack and kill people that venture into their territory. These dangerous herbivores had claimed this section of the river as theirs. As I walked back to camp, I felt disappointed. This was the fifth major set-back since I had started my journey. How was I going to get to the Smith’s village if I couldn’t even get across the river? This seemed impossible.
Impossible…wait…no, possible…what was the verse had that word in it? Oh yes, “…with God, all things are possible.” That’s right, Matthew 19:26. God had called me to Africa, and I knew He would get me to where He wanted me to go.
That night, even though mosquitoes buzzed around me, and nocturnal animals shook the trees and made noises outside my tent, I slept peacefully, knowing that God had it all under control. God was faithful, and he sent a brave little man named Numba.
~ 2 Years Later, Mozambique Africa, 1927 ~
“Where did you get these letters?” I asked, speaking to a runner who had just arrived. “From Numba,” He replied. “she gave me to give you.” I smiled, because in Africa “he” and “she” are often switched.
“Thank you, thank you very much!” I almost shouted. As quickly as I could, I ran to my favorite enormous Baobab tree just outside the village limits. It was a hot, humid day, and I was thankful for the shade inside the hollowed-out middle of the tree. My hands were sweaty from the humidity, and from teaching three classes in a row. The mail had come. Faithful Numba had done it again, he’d paddled across the treacherous Zambezi river, then traveled one hundred and fifty miles, all the way to the Missions Station and back, just to pick up my mail. I remembered back to the first time I had met Numba.
God had sent him, I knew, because no one else would take me across the Zambezi River because of their fear, no one but Numba. He’d not only rowed me across, but he’d also drawn me a map, and he’d been the first person to listen to me share the gospel. He’d also been the first person to receive Jesus as his Savior. Right away, he began to tell others. His wife, his children, and anyone else who would stand still. Numba and two ladies were my only converts so far, but I could tell God was using them all.
Cholwe, a nineteen year old girl, had been kicked out of her home and family when she started telling others that she was a Christian. She still had faith though, that one day, God would allow her to witness to them. Risha had been shunned by all her friends when she had begun to tell them about Jesus, but she never stopped. I helped the Smiths start a free school in the church building for the children of the village, and Monday through Friday it was packed, but on Sunday very few people would come. This was mainly because the Witch Doctor and the Chief didn’t like the “White people’s God.” They couldn’t control Him, so they didn’t want anyone to believe in Him. Thankfully, they were just men, and God was a lot bigger and way more powerful than them.
This had only taken a minute to run through my head while I had been staring at the letters in my hand. I looked at the address of the first one. It was from my older sister Sarah. The second was from my mother, and the last two were from some of my supporting churches. Those faithful little churches had sacrificed to send me this money. I thanked the Lord almost every time I ate for those people who sent me money so I could buy food. I also prayed, asking the Lord that He would remind those people to be praying for me.
I opened the first two letters. Sarah wanted to know how my project was going, using the Bible to teach English. My mother asked how her idea of slipping Bible stories into the History Lessons was working. The letters ended with sweet reminders that my family back home was praying for me. This was a bright spot in the long months of hard work and when things got tough. This is what I looked forward to, news from my family, and I treasured each letter. These communications from home, and looking forward to heaven was a blessing and an encouragement.
I knew I had much to learn, but by God’s Grace, my little school was making a difference in those little children’s lives, thanks to the English classes using Bible verses, and true stories from the Bible in their History class. Even the adults were seeing how those new Christians, who they disliked, were not afraid of evil spirit or charms, and when everyone shunned them, they still tried to witness to them. People were starting to see that whatever these believers had, changed them, and now instead of hating them, they were beginning to be curious.
~ 10 Years Later, Mozambique Africa, 1937 ~
I jumped down from the wagon seat, looking around. “Do you like it?” asked a blond-haired young man that came up behind me.
“Yes, I do.” I replied. I looked over at a small concrete block house with a tin roof. It was clean and had a fresh coat of whitewash. My eyes moved on further, to a long building made of burnt mud brick and thatch for the roof.
“The church building and our house are perfect!” I exclaimed, spinning around and giving him a hug. “Thank you, Tim.”
“You needed a house to clean,” he said. “Plus, I couldn’t stand that thatch, it was full of parachuting bugs that kept dropping from the ceiling.”
“Just think,” I said, trying to get his mind off creeping critters, “I’ve only been here twelve years, and look what God has given us. A school, a clinic, and best of all, the little band of Christians, the church! That church that I’ve been praying for since I arrived to help your family.”
“Yes, God has given us all this, and six happy years of marriage together. What a blessing that the War never reached us here.”
“True, but the Spiritual war is always raging around us. I hope He’ll give us many more years together.” I said, quietly.
~ 8 Years Later, America, 1945 ~
“And He did.” I said to Hope. “God gave us fourteen years together to serve Him. Then one day, Tim came down with a high fever, and got very sick. He had Malaria, and though we tried everything we could to save his life, we sadly had to say goodbye to each other on this earth, and God took him to Heaven.”
“The church is still there, pastored by Numba, and the school is still going, thanks to Risha and Cholwe. I’ll be going back as soon as I get my health up a notch. There are many other villages all around our village that Numba and his brother Dunbu have been trying to reach.”
“Your story doesn’t have a happy ending.” Hope sighed, staring through the window, as she watched the dripping cars driving by. “Your husband died, you had no children, your health is bad, and it’s hard over there. Can’t you just stay home?”
I was silent as I tried to think of an answer to Hope’s questions. Then a verse, which I had often quoted during difficult times, came to the front of my mind, and then I began to share it with her.
“In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.”
“That’s what Jesus said in John 16:33.” I said to my sister. “Hope, God never promised that this world would be easy, in fact, He said that there would be tribulations or trials here. But God is saying that we should be joyful, because He’s overcome the world. When Jesus died on the cross, He overcame Satan, who is the called the “prince of this world” three times in the book of John, and paid the price for our sins. He has made a way so those who repent and believe on Him can be reconciled to God."
Hope continued to stare out the window. I glanced towards it, and saw the fog that was hindering the view. “You know,” I said, “our perspective on life is sometimes wrong. It’s like we’re seeing life through a clouded glass. We can’s see angels, demons, or God. We can’t always see why things happen or don’t happen, but when we get to Heaven, the view will then be clear.”
“I know, but can’t you just tell people here at home?” Hope replied.
“God loved the world so much, He sent His Son to die for us, and has made an escape for us, and conquered sins power and hold on us. Even though there are trials, troubles, and problems in this world, it’s just a short bit of time before Eternity, which His children will spend in Heaven, and that’s why we need to tell others about what He’s done. That’s why we go to difficult and dangerous places, because there’s people there that haven’t heard and need to know about His love, and we need to show it by caring enough to go.”
Hope looked me straight in the eye, and said, “Faith, God has been calling me to go back with you to Africa. I’ve been pushing it away, because I wanted to stay here, where it’s safe and I’d be close to mom and dad, but because of what you said, I can’t resist Him any longer. We’ll go back as a team, Faith and Hope, to share God’s Love.”
“Hope, I never could have asked you, but I’m so glad God has given me someone again to work together with.”
Thank you Lord, I thought.
~ Ending ~
And they did go back, just six months later. Those two ladies made an impact for God in Africa. Faith worked among her beloved people forty more years, then went to her blessed Heavenly Home above, that she had been looking forward to for so long. Hope married a missionary going to the Congo, and lived to be ninety-two. She never went back to America, her home was Africa. In all her long life, she never regretted the time she chose to obey God’s will and go. These two faithful missionaries and their lives are imaginary, but there are many people all over the world just like them, who willing have gone to far away countries to share God’s Good News of Salvation. They encounter dangers and hardships, yet still joyfully obey God’s Command to Go. God may not send you to a foreign country, but it is still our duty, if we are a Believer, to tell others about the Righteousness of God, and how to be made right with Him through the saving Blood of Jesus Christ.