Index Page   The Lord Took Me

 

Am I Serving the Lord Jesus?

Throwing the reins over the horse’s head and arranging them neatly on the robe (which was wrapped in a khaki cloth), I mounted the saddle. Picking his way surefootedly along the narrow mountain trail Arax slowly descended to the first kraal along the wayside. There I stopped for a few minutes to greet the proud headman of the kraal. I enquired after the well being of his children and his two wives and of the condition of the ‘amabela’ (millet). ‘All right,’ he answered politely but cautiously. ‘All right, we still live a little. Only the children have umkhuhlane.’ This matter of ‘umkhuhlane’ ( a slight indisposition), he added prudently according to custom, so that the witchdoctors would not become jealous. And a man could not afford to incur their wrath; their charms are deadly. The white man needs no such precautions – he and his children are always well.

A quick glance at my watch interrupted the conversation. I had to press on. The congregation in the next village would be waiting for the baptismal service and for Holy Communion. But before parting I quickly asked the headman ‘When will you believe? When will you let yourself be baptised?’ ‘Do you see my two wives?’ he answered. ‘What shall I do with them if I get baptised?’ Then, he turned round and began calling the boys to fetch the cattle; it was already milking time. ‘All right, stay well,’ I said. ‘Go well,’ replied the Zulu and went to meet the speckled cows with that amazingly graceful stride of the African in Zululand.

A little uneasy at heart I continued my journey. I always felt somewhat uncomfortable on the infrequent occasions when I had plucked up enough courage to ask a heathen when he was going to be baptised. Whenever I did so my approach was reluctant and halting, like one who fears the consequences, yet shrinks from not doing it. No, the heart was not in the question. No doubt about that. You can’t light a fire with an icicle.

My way led through a ravine, then over the next mountain range, followed by another descent into the valley. The chapel, built from hewn stone, stood on the broad mountain slope on the far side of the valley.

As Arax carried me slowly up the winding path, Samuel, the overseer, was beating the length of rail dangling in the tree to announce to the Christians that the ‘Umfundisi’ is coming and that the service will soon be starting. Although people started moving towards the Church in response to the bell, the service would not start until the elders (who had already assembled) had given their report to the congregation. I knew that several things would have to be discussed. Much business always accumulates in the out stations and one must be able to listen patiently.