Stories are powerful. They are memorable. They inspire and move us, and they are meant for sharing. In this month’s Global View I would like to share with you an incredible story told to me by Pastor Geoffrey Mbwana, a general vice president here at the General Conference. It’s about a small group of Adventist youth who heard God calling them to reach people living in a very difficult and dangerous area. Despite the risks, these precious young people put their trust in the Lord and said, “I will go!” But before moving ahead, they spent much time in prayer, pleading for God to guide them. I believe you will be amazed and inspired by how God answered their prayers.
A RISKY MISSION
Along Tanzania’s Indian Ocean coast lies a town of more than 8,000 inhabitants. The town is predominantly of a non-Christian faith, with more than 99 percent of its inhabitants belonging to that faith. It is known to be a highly superstitious town, causing many people to fear the town and its people.
Several attempts were made over the years to introduce the townspeople to the three angels’ messages, but none was successful. In the year 2000, however, a group of young people from Adventist churches in a city some kilometers away dared to conduct an evangelistic series in this town. With some simple preparation they went to the town and rented a place to stay. Knowing the work before them was delicate and risky, they decided to spend two weeks in earnest prayer, pleading for God’s intervention for the salvation of the people there.
Amazingly, a few days later they received permission from the town government to hold religious meetings. It then became public knowledge that young Adventists would be conducting meetings.
The young people continued to pray earnestly, choosing to have their special prayer times early in the morning by the seashore, before the people of the town were awake.
FIRE BY THE SEA
The young Adventists faithfully met by the sea every morning before dawn, crying to the Lord on behalf of the townspeople and for the meetings. One morning, unbeknownst to them, a few young people were sent by the town elders to go and kill these young Adventists before they started their meetings in town. They had learned that the Adventist youth started their day with prayers by the sea at 5:00 in the morning, and decided that would be the best place and time to kill them.
So one morning the would-be killers went to the shore and found the Adventist youth kneeling in earnest prayer by the sea. As they approached, ready to kill, the attackers saw a wall of fire surrounding the Adventist youth. They were shocked and dared not attack. Terrified, they ran away.
The Adventist young people went on with their plans and started the meetings. But the elders of the city were determined to stop them. They sent their youth to steal equipment and furniture that were being used for the meeting in an open area. But one night when they approached the place where the equipment was kept, the would-be thieves saw a very tall man wearing a white gown, holding a shining sword, and walking around the equipment. They again failed to execute their wicked plan.
Finally the elders in the city said to their youth, “You are cowards and don’t know how to do these things! We will take matters into our own hands and destroy these Adventist young people!”
Soon after, as the meetings were going on in the open area, two elderly people dressed in full traditional regalia walked through the crowd, heading toward the front, where one of the young Adventists was preaching.
But before they reached the front, the town elders started running and jumping, screaming, “We’re burning! We’re burning!” They rushed toward the preacher, but then went out behind him.
Interestingly, while no one saw any flames, the attackers acted as though they were on fire. Later these same leaders explained how they wanted to attack the preacher, but saw a wall of fire surrounding him.
NO MAGIC POWER
After this, the young men of the town approached the Adventist young people, inquiring about the superstitious powers they were using to protect themselves against the attacks. The Adventist youth told them they didn’t believe in superstition and would have nothing to do with it. Then they asked the young men why they thought they were using some sort of magic as protection, and the town youth explained what they had seen when they had tried to destroy them.
The Adventists happily explained that they serve the living God of heaven and have the protection of divine angels sent by God. It became a big story all across that town and surrounding towns, and in the end many people were baptized. When the news of these miracles spread into the neighboring areas, a journalist came and reported the story in a nationwide newspaper.
Even though working in this area continues to be challenging, there are now three organized churches in that town, with a total membership of nearly 200 people. Several of these youth became powerful lay evangelists, and two of them became pastors.
A WALL OF FIRE
Friends, we are told that the Lord is, indeed, like a wall of fire. In Zechariah 2:5 we read this beautiful description of how the Lord takes care of His own: “ ‘For I,’ says the Lord, ‘will be a wall of fire all around her, and I will be the glory in her midst.’ ”
Affirming this wall of fire protection, we read in the book The Sanctified Life, “God smiles upon the humble and lowly ones who follow closely in the footsteps of the Master. Angels are attracted to them, and love to linger about their path. They may be passed by as unworthy of notice by those who claim exalted attainments and who delight in making prominent their good works, but heavenly angels bend lovingly over them and are as a wall of fire round about them.”¹
And elsewhere Ellen White offers this beautiful insight: “We must seek to separate sin from us, relying upon the merits of the blood of Christ; and then in the day of affliction, when the enemy presses us, we shall walk among the angels. They will be like a wall of fire about us; and we shall one day walk with them in the city of God.”²
May we, just as those dear young people by the seaside did, put our trust fully in the Lord and be willing to say “I will go” wherever He may lead.
¹ Ellen G. White, The Sanctified Life (Washington, D.C.: Review and Herald Pub. Assn., 1937), p. 13. ² Ellen G. White, In Heavenly Places (Washington, D.C.: Review and Herald Pub. Assn., 1967), p. 30.
President of the Worldwide Seventh-day Adventist Church •
Ted N. C. Wilson is president of the worldwide Seventh-day Adventist Church. Additional articles and commentaries are available from the president’s office on Twitter: @pastortedwilson and on Facebook: @Pastor Ted Wilson.