I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. John 15:5
Yesterday we read the testimony of Kefa Sampangi in Uganda when he was threatened with death by Idi Amin’s goon squad. The story continues:
“Father in heaven,” I prayed, “you who have forgiven men in the past, forgive these men also. Do not let them perish in their sins but bring them into yourself.”
It was a simple prayer, prayed in deep fear. But God looked beyond my fears and when I lifted my head, the men standing in front of me were not the same men who had followed me into the vestry. Something had changed in their faces.
It was the tall one who spoke first. His voice was bold but there was no contempt in his words, “You have helped us,” he said, “and we will help you. We will speak to the rest of our company and they will leave you alone. Do not fear for your life. It is in our hands and you will be protected.”
I was too astonished to reply. The tall one only motioned for the others to leave. He himself stepped to the doorway and then he turned to speak one last time. “I saw widows and orphans in your congregation,” he said. “I saw them singing and giving praise. Why are they happy when death is so near?”
It was still difficult to speak but I answered him. “Because they are loved by God. He has given them life, and will give life to those they loved, because they died in Him.”
His question seemed strange to me, but he did not stay to explain. He only shook his head in perplexity and walked out the door. I stared at the open door of the vestry for several moments and then sat down on a nearby straw mat chair. My knees were no longer strong and I could feel my whole body tremble. I could not think clearly. Less than ten minutes before, I had considered myself a dead man. Even though I was surrounded by 7,000 people there was no human being to whom I could appeal. I could not ask the elders to pray, I could not appeal to the mercy of the Nubian killers. My mouth had frozen and I had no clever words to speak. In that moment, with death so near, it was not my sermon that gave me courage, or an idea from Scripture. It was Jesus Christ, the living Lord.
RESPONSE: Today I will walk in the power of the living Lord and not in my own strength or courage.
PRAYER: Lord, help me realize that You are my sufficiency. Without You, I can do nothing.
1. F. Kefa Sempangi, A Distant Grief, Glendale, CA: G/L Publications, 1979, pp.120-121.