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Two Nights Ago in the African Bush

Dispatch Africa 2012:

Stuart, Johannes (yo-hawn), and I left a successful meeting with Dutch Reformed missionaries near the Mozambique/Swaziland border of far northeastern South Africa.  We drove for about an hour through the mountains as the sun set.  When we came down out of the mountains and drove along a remote road in the African bush on the eastern edge of the Kruger National Wildlife Refuge, one of the top safari ranges on the continent, the front left wheel made a loud crunching thump and then popped off its lugs and flew out into the roadside terrain.  Johannes was driving and managed to swing the steering wheel sharply to the left at that very moment, which put our vehicle halfway off the road and out of the way of any potential passing traffic.  In a split second we ground to a stop on 3 wheels and 1 hub.

No one was injured, but we were stranded on a roadside after dark, with no signs of a town or village in sight in either direction.  According to the GPS, we were about 25 miles from the nearest town, which was too far to walk in the starlit night.  As we stood around in the dark trying to assess the damage and chatting up our options and good fortune, we began to smell the scent of a larger animal.  Lions were known to be in the area, but the more likely concern was a roaming leopard.  We commiserated.  Just then, a car approached and slowed as it came over the rise.  It crept along for a hundred yards or so and then stopped.  I heard a thump coming from the direction of the vehicle, and then saw thin shadows pass in front of the headlights.  A tall skinny African had stepped out of the vehicle with both of his hands held behind his back and out of site.  As he began to shuffle across the road in our direction, leaning oddly to one side, something didn’t seem right.  So, I moved around Johannes, a smallish chap, to intercept whatever was about to happen next.

The man looked at us quizzically for a long moment and shouted something in the Afrikaans language that Johannes understood.  The man was offering help.  Johannes waved him off.  The man took another look or two at the three of us and left.  Johannes pulled his cell phone out of his pocket and it chirped as he dialed a number.  Within a couple of minutes, he informed Stuart and me that a wrecker was on the way.  In total, we waited about an hour in the dark before the wrecker driver arrived, hitched us up, and drove us to the next town, Lydenburg, where we would be bedded down for the night in a local hostel.  We checked-in, dropped our bags in the room, and made it to the café for a steak just 10 minutes before the kitchen closed.

Chomping down our steaks with laughter and camaraderie we couldn’t help but note how things could have gone very, very wrong that night.  The Lord protected us and provided for us, and we were very grateful, indeed.  Your prayers for protection and provision were heard loud and clear in the throne room.  Thanks for supporting us on our African adventure.  Looking forward with anticipation to what the Lord has in store for us tomorrow.  Praise to the Most High; praise His holy Name!

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