By Melody Rittenour
I went to the Friday night meeting knowing that we should be praying because Pastor Mtenzi was going to make a serious call. Before he went up to preach he told me he was scared. I asked him why and he said,
“I don’t know exactly, I’m just scared.” I told him that I would pray for him.
Close to three hundred people attended the meeting, with over a hundred kids sitting behind the screen or in front of it. Pastor Mtenzi had an extra long sermon teaching people the importance of Sabbath observance. At the end he made a powerful call and people began to come forward. The Bible workers started busily writing down the names of these people. For awhile the choir was singing as pastor Mtenzi continued to call people forward.
Suddenly, toward the end of all the excitement, I heard a loud, “bang, bang” sound. That scared me. What was that? “Maybe it’s guns?” I thought! People started running out of the building. A serious call had just been made, one that sometimes makes people, and especially Satan, get mad! “What was that noise? Maybe it’s rocks? I thought.” I got down on my knees. This would be safer–especially if it was guns.
April Mosier got down on her knees too. I started praying for God’s protection. Bang! Another loud noise pierced the air. By this time I thought it was probably rocks being thrown on the tin roof; at least that’s what it sounded like. Then someone told April it was rocks. Now, I was pretty sure I knew what the noise was, but even if it was rocks that didn’t necessarily mean safety! April was scared too and put her arm around me as we knelt there. We both decided to just stay down on our knees next to the equipment and pray. Thoughts were going through my mind about missionaries who had suffered for their faith and even died. I also thought, “if God wants to keep me safe, He will. We are here doing God’s work so this is the safest place for me to be.”
As we crouched next to the projector and PA system someone told us the stone thrower had been caught. Off to one side I saw an excited group of people carrying a young boy of about 11 years of age. As the guilty boy thrashed around trying to get away, I thought, “They probably will beat him.” In Africa, sometimes accused thieves are burned to death right on the spot by angry crowds. I hoped the boy would be okay.
As we drove home that night Pastor Mtenzi filled us in on the rest of the story. The small boy had been hiding under a tree at the back of the church. After he threw the first couple rocks, a Bible worker caught him, and immediately brought him to Pastor Mtenzi, saying,
“This is the guilty boy, he threw the rocks. We want to beat him, to teach him a lesson!” Pastor Mtenzi told them clearly,
“No, do not beat him. Let him go. You will ruin the meeting and the message presented if you beat him.” When they let the boy go he said he had been sent by the pastor of another church to disrupt the meetings. As it turned out, we weren’t in danger, but it sure made me pray earnestly!
During the ride home that night, I contemplated our numerous blessings. Of coarse He kept us safe, but perhaps what blessed me most was being pushed to a deeper level of prayer and faith. This makes me ask myself,
“If I would just pray with more sincerity and earnestness all the time I wonder what would happen?”
When I pray to the God of heaven, I want to learn to pray more earnestly. The verse comes to mind that says,
“Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.” Hebrews 4:16. This “grace to help in time of need” can go much deeper then mere safety. It can go to the depths of the heart. We can come boldly to the throne of grace for help in every problem we have.
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At the end of this evangelistic series 46 people gave their hearts to Jesus and were baptized. One of these converts has a story worth hearing.
Eugenie is an old lady in poor health. She lives in a hut very close to the church where the evangelistic series was held. In June of 2008 Eugenie had listened from her hut to an evangelistic series held at this same location. At that time Eugenie didn’t want to accept the truth and she didn’t want to go to the meetings. But now, when she listened again to our repeated meetings the seed of truth was awakened in her heart. Now, although walking was difficult for her, she was seen almost every night at the meetings. Eugenie decided to give her heart to Jesus and be baptized.At the river she continued to have courage and with special help in and out of the river she was baptized. Then we went back to church to give Bibles to those who had been baptized. Most people in Congo have never had a Bible. Eugenie along with the others who were baptized, were overjoyed to receive a Bible of very own.