MEETING THE HOTTENTOT HERD BOY
IN THE DESERT
The story of South African missions contributes yet another incident, showing how, in a thing most trivial in itself, God’s providence was revealed and recognized to His glory. In 1827 Barnabas Shaw, accompanied by a Mr. Munting and a native, was traveling across barren regions in the northwestern part of Cape Colony. The party became bewildered and lost,
and were without water. Mr. Shaw says:
“It was a trying season; and, in this dilemma, I opened my Bible and read the account of Hagar in the wilderness. This seemed to encourage us to trust in divine Providence; and we had not proceeded far when I discovered several bullocks at a distance. Our hopes were now raised. We ascended the top of a hill, hallooing as loud as we were able and waving our hats;
but there was no person to answer us. And to our great sorrow, the oxen disappeared; and we saw them no more.
“This circumstance greatly depressed us; and the wilderness became more solitary than before. While thus dejected, I again saw some distant objects, which proved to be a flock of sheep and goats. By this time my strength had completely failed; and I fell to the ground, faint and helpless. My African boy, William, was also quite exhausted. Mr. Munting, being the strongest, pushed forward till he came up with a Hottentot in charge of the flock, who informed him that the farmer’s house we were seeking was at no great distance.
“The man went at once to inform his master of his discovery. The kind-hearted Boer, Mr. Engelbrecht, sent horses to convey us to his place; and we were thus mercifully delivered from our perilous position.
“When we reached the farmer’s place, he exclaimed, ‘It is the Lord who has wonderfully delivered you this day. In the morning, when I arose, it was my intention to send my sheep to the northward; but the Hottentot had taken them away to the southward. I therefore reserved my orders for tomorrow. But had the sheep been sent to the north, instead of the direction in which you found them, nothing could have saved you from perishing, as you were going into a country where there is no water and which is destitute of inhabitants. The Lord kept me asleep half an hour longer than usual this morning to save your lives.’
“On hearing this, Mr. Munting cried out, ‘The Lord has delivered us!’ And, engaged as long as he lived in the world, he kept the eighth of January as a day of thanksgiving to God; and surely I may sing with the
“ ‘Through hidden dangers, toils, and death,
He gently cleared my way.’ ”
The Missionary World Encyclopedia, p. 362.
Happier, and truer far, was the simple faith of the Dutch farmer who recognized God’s providence over-turning his own plan for the day than the attitude of mind that shuts God and His angels and His divine
providence away from human affairs, unless it may be in the great experiences.