DELIVERED FROM THE BASUTO RAIDERS
While visiting some South African missions, the writer met the daughter of one of the pioneer missionary families of Africa—Mother Jeffrey, mother of E. W. H. Jeffrey, superintendent of the Seventh-day Adventist Kafirland Missions. Mother Jeffrey could tell many a story of the early days of African missions.
Her father was William Shepstone, of the Wesleyan Society, one of those men of God whose work on the frontiers, in the early colonial times, forms a bright chapter in the history of South Africa.
One providence of those times was recounted by Mother Jeffrey. We reproduce the story from notes of her narrative:
“My father had a station near the border of Basutoland. Trouble had broken out, and the Basutos were trying to drive back the white settlers. My father was active in working for peace. Sekonyele, chief of one party of the Basutos, said to his chiefs, ‘We must kill the missionary first. We shall never get on until we have driven out the mission. Then we shall be able to do something.’
“Everything was prepared for the raid upon the mission station. Friendly Basutos brought word to my father, that he and his family must flee for their lives, as that day the war party was coming to kill them.
“But the missionary could not flee. Even that very day a little girl had been born to the mission family.
The mother could not travel. They could not escape by flight. All the missionary could do was to put his family under the protection of God and await His merciful providences.
“That afternoon the Basutos came over the border, riding down upon the mission. But as they rode on, Sekonyele’s horse fell. It was pulled up, but stumbled again and again. And many of the horses of the war party kept falling and stumbling as they tried to come along. So remarkable and unusual was it that Sekonyele became afraid. He called to his chiefs, saying, ‘The great God is against us today. It is not good to try to kill this missionary. Let us go back.’ And he called off his people; and back the war party swept, over the border again, into Basutoland. The missionary family was saved.
“A little time afterward, the chief said to my father:
‘Your God protected you that day. We would have killed every man, woman, and child when we came if we had been able to reach you then. Your God surely helped you.’
“Then the Basutos learned why it was that my father and mother could not flee from them at the time—that the birth of the baby girl had held them at the mission. They were so convinced that God had turned them back on account of this, that they gave a name to the girl, after their own custom. They called her Ma-Sekonyele, that is, the mother of Sekonyele; ‘for,’
they said, ‘this baby was Sekonyele’s mother that day.
She would not let him come, and turned him back. She shall be called
“So my father and mother knew that God had indeed protected them in their helplessness; they had borne a witness to those wild Basutos, that He was with the missionaries.”
And to us this story bears witness yet again to the reality of the ministry of heavenly angels in these modern times, and to the ever-watchful providence of the living God.