Within no time scores of people from the area rushed to the vehicle to try to rescue us.
Published on: 03-29-2021
God used a variety of creative ways to reach the apostle Paul. First, He used a blinding flash of light and a loud voice to catch his attention on the road to Damascus. Next came the kind voice and healing touch of Ananias. At another time God used an earthquake while Paul and Silas were chained in a dungeon jail. Then there was the viper on the island of Malta and the dream voice that called to him in Troas.
If God had a special job for Paul to do, God did something that caught his attention and then sent him off on a new adventure.
He does the same today. When He needs us, He knows exactly how to get our attention and set us off on an adventure that will lead to the conversion of people He has prepared to accept His love!
The story of God’s flying tire reminds us that He knows when—and how—to find us. It happened at Chozo, a Zambian community approximately 100 kilometers (62 miles) from the border of Zambia and Angola. In 2015, the year that the Zambia Union Conference crossed the 1 million membership mark, Pastor Simui Akombwa was serving as Zambia Union Conference president.
“While the ratio of Adventists to the population of Zambia at that time was 14:1,” Akombwa remembers, “our North-Western membership was approximately 100:1. One could drive for 120 kilometers [85 miles] without seeing even one Adventist church building.”
Though the Adventist Church first came to this province in 1980, the work has grown slowly. Other Christian churches came here many years ago, and the conservative North-Western people look with suspicion upon churches that came later. The only exception to this is those who come to build institutions, such as schools and clinics!
“That year,” Pastor Akombwa says, “I felt called to visit churches in the North-Western province in the company of the local conference president. Using my personal Land Cruiser VX, we set out with our spouses (four of us in total) on a 10-day constituency visit to the Copperbelt Conference, one of the eight conferences and fields comprising the Zambia Union Conference.”
* * *
The 10 days went by quickly, including a visit to the farthest point in the conference, close to the border with Angola. The group had left Chavuma and were returning home to Lusaka when God called. Here’s how Pastor Akombwa remembers the moment.
“Just as we were going over a bridge at Chozo, we saw an automobile tire flying across the river under us and wondered where it had come from. Just then our vehicle tipped over to the left. That’s when we realized it was our own tire that we had seen flying away over the river! My colleague, the conference president, was driving at the time. In an effort to stop the vehicle from plunging over the bridge into the river below, he swung the vehicle to the right side. The vehicle swerved and almost plunged into the river. It spun 180 degrees until it was facing where we had just come from. Then it suddenly stopped. Everything happened in a split second, and we were in a heavy cloud of dust.
“Within no time scores of people from the area rushed to the vehicle to try to rescue us. To their amazement, they found all of us intact. They gathered around and asked us to come out of the vehicle and then stretched our arms to be sure we were safe. When they saw we had come through the accident safely, they broke into joyful singing. ‘Njambi njikwate kuli boko, Njambi njikahetee!’ they sang in Luvale, their native language. The words mean ‘God, hold me by the hand until I arrive home’ (that is, in heaven). After the joyful singing, several individuals from the group exclaimed: ‘This is truly the hand of God that could perform such a miracle, and we have been witnesses of what happened!’”
At the end of the singing, one of the older men in the crowd, who was obviously the headman of the village, asked the travelers who they were.
“We are ministers of the gospel,” Pastor Akombwa answered.
“From which denomination?” the headman asked.
“We are Seventh-day Adventists, followers of Jesus Christ.”
Hearing this answer, they all queued up and asked to be added to the register of the Seventh-day Adventist Church, a church where God saves His people from terrible accidents.
* * *
Akombwa affirmed the people of Chozo but told them that they could be accepted into membership only after studying the Seventh-day Adventist Bible doctrines and then being baptized.
“OK. We can do that. Please teach us,” the headman responded.
The pastors worked with the headman on planning dates for an evangelistic meeting and settled on returning in two months.
Let’s go back to Pastor Akombwa’s story.
“Having agreed on the meetings, we could now focus on our vehicle. The prodigal tire was located and brought back to us. Unbelievably, it was intact and still usable! After a struggle we finally got it back onto the axle, and then continued our trip home to Lusaka.”
True to their word, two months later the evangelistic team returned to Chozo and held a three-week evangelistic meeting. Even though the Seventh-day Adventist message was completely new to Chozo, more than 100 people accepted the message. Eighty-two precious souls, including the area headman, were baptized, and a new church was established.
The pastors, their wives, and the people of Chozo believe that the accident was a modern-day Macedonian call. “Come over to Chozo and help us,” God called as the tire flew away from the vehicle. Truly God is still looking for people to save, and if we surrender ourselves to Him, He knows exactly how to get our attention and set us off on an adventure that will lead to the conversion of people He has prepared to accept His love!