In The Fire
Angels may be commissioned to deliver us. Or they may not be. Of one thing we can be certain. Our God is well able to duplicate any miracle of Daniel’s day—even that of the blazing furnace. In fact He has already demonstrated that ability—literally—in our day!
It is from Pastor John—whose real name I am not using –that we learn of the thrilling story of a local pastor who was in charge of two of our districts in a country that I will not identify. There was fighting back and forth between the tribes, and it was a terrible situation. Pastor John had tried to get into the area to visit the local district pastor, for he knew that things were going rough. Once he got as far as the river that bordered the district—and he got that far only by traveling in the company of armed soldiers. But as they came up to the river, they saw that the bridge had been blown up in the tribal fighting and there was no way to get across. It was only a few weeks later that this story came out.
This dedicated local pastor, with his wife and children, was living in a little village. Many of his church members had fled into the jungle, for at that time the witch doctor had taken control of the area. And the witch doctor had decreed that anyone who refused to bow down to the native idols and sacrifice a chicken, anyone who retained any respect for a religion brought by a white man, anyone who dared to call himself a Christian must be killed. Orders had gone out that the people must revert to their old pagan worship with its ceremonies.
The pastor knew all this. It was because of this order that many of his people had taken refuge deep in the jungle and built little shelters there.
Once again he was advised to leave the village and join a little group of thirty-five or forty of his members in the jungle. But he still had seventy or eighty members in the village and felt he could not go.
Then one evening the report came that the witch doctors and their mobs were in a neighboring village four or five kilometers away. The pastor called his members together and told them to feel free to leave, but he felt that he must stay. “Oh, but your house will be destroyed! Our church will be burned!”
They knew, and he knew, how easily those thatched-roof buildings would burn.
Later that evening two friends who were not Christians came and told him, “They are going to destroy this church and this house sometime to night! Please, please leave! Flee into the jungle!”
He said he would pray about it and that if he felt impressed to leave he would leave. If not, he would remain.
He called his wife and four children together, and they prayed. They prayed often that night. About midnight there was a hammering on the door and a vicious barking order, “Open the door or we will burn down your house!”
Again he gathered his little family, and there in the middle of the living room floor they quoted some of the Bible promises that meant so much to them.
The shouts increased outside, “Come out here!” We’ll give you one more chance—or we’ll destroy you and your house!” But as he prayed, he felt he should remain where he was.
They heard the order outside, “Set it alight!” And soon they could hear the crackling of the dry thatched roof. Choking smoke and flames surrounded them. Then at the side window there was a hammering sound as the window was chopped open with axes. Two of the soldiers were standing there. They could see the pastor on his knees with his wife and children, praying. They sneered and threw one of the axes at the pastor, wounding his leg, slightly. But he continued to pray. The roof was now totally ignited.
It was four weeks later that Pastor John was finally able to get into the area. He followed the little footpath eight miles out into the jungle, where a little Adventist village had been established. As he entered the little settlement, the pastor came running and threw his arms around him. Pastor John knew him well. They had grown up together. But he could hardly recognize him now as the neat, representatively dressed man he knew him to be. Here he was in tattered clothes that he had not been able to replace because of the fighting. He was a pathetic figure. But as he threw his arms around his old friend, he told him the rest of the story.
He said, “That night, as my home was being burned, with the witch doctors and their fierce killers surrounding it, everything we had going up in smoke, we were praying. And as we prayed we saw two figures much brighter than the flames come in that window. And they lifted us out of that room and brought us out here to the jungle!”
Ministering angels! And everything was all right!
But there was more. After the house was burned down, with only smoldering ashes and charred timbers left, the witch doctor ordered his men to bring out the bodies—the six bodies of that little family, that had dared to defy his order. His men went in-–the two who had stood at the window and seen them on their knees, who testified that they were right there in the middle of the room. But now there was only a smoldering mass of half- burned grass and jungle poles. They pulled the poles out and dug away the ashes. But they could find no bodies—no charred corpses to prove that they had been able to destroy this family that so defiantly trusted in an unseen God!
Three years after that experience one of the witch doctors became a humble follower of the Lord Jesus Christ because of what he had seen that night—the amazing manifestation of the love of God for His people and His power to deliver them by means of angels who excel in strength!
M. L. Lloyd