“There’s a hog-tied man in the boot of my car!” That is a sentence I never thought I would say as a missionary. In fact, I don’t think any missionary would ever think they would be uttering those words. But one sunny day, I ended up in that exact predicament, and it showed me once again, that as a missionary, we ought to expect the unexpected.
One day in the village of Mochudi, our friend, and fellow missionary, Jenna, offered to babysit our two babies so my husband and I could go out on a much-needed date. We kissed our babes goodbye, and went to the city for the day. Poor Jenna did not have a relaxing and peaceful day. As she was playing with our kids, she noticed a man walk onto our property. He was talking loudly to himself, and was clearly drunk and out of his mind. He made his way onto our verandah, sat down to make himself at home, and continued talking in drunken gibberish. Suddenly, this man jumped up and headed for the front door of our house. Jenna (full of the Holy Spirit and wisdom) ran to the door and latched the deadbolt as soon as he began to turn the door handle.
Jenna immediately went into full protective mode and called the police, some church members, and neighbours. The church members and neighbours came, but the police never made it. After some time, persuasion, and listening to a drunk man’s demands, our friends finally got him to vacate our property. As that day ended, we all thanked God for protection, and for Jenna’s wisdom in those scary moments. But our time with this man was not finished.
The next day, Tyler was away, Jenna was in her flat at the back of our property, and I heard our gate open. I looked out the window, and saw a strange man, stumbling across our yard, heading straight for the front door. I knew that we were not safe, but a sudden calmness came over me. I ran to all the doors in our house and made sure everything was locked, and the kids were safe in their rooms. I called Jenna, and told her not to panic, but to lock up and stay inside.
We began to call for help once more. We phoned the police; they didn’t come. But once again, our neighbours and our church friends came. This time, the man was much more agitated. He was violent, angry, drunk, and seemed quite out of his natural mind. Once help arrived, Jenna and I went outside to try to intervene on what was becoming a very tense situation. As we stepped outside, we saw this man on the ground as our neighbours were tying him up. I felt like this was quite an extreme way of dealing with the situation, and tried to intervene, but was told that this man was crazy and needed to be taken back to the mental ward, where he had recently been a patient.
To see a man helpless, on the ground, being bound with rope was more that I felt I could bear. Jenna and I felt helpless. What could we do? We did the only thing we knew how. We began to pray. I stepped between the man and some of our angry neighbours with such calmness, and I watched as the peace of God came over us. It was one of those moments where I knew God was with me. I felt fully protected, and was filled with such boldness, clear thinking, and a calm spirit. The consensus from our neighbours was that the police would not come, so we needed to transport him to the police station on our own. In that moment, I don’t recall even a hint of fear or nerves. There was a man, clearly in need of help, and that was why we were there. We were there to help the helpless.
I arranged for a church mother to watch my kids while our neighbours lifted this man into the back of my car. Jenna and I sat in the front, in complete disbelief, and one of our neighbours went with us in case of language issues or other unforeseen circumstances. As we drove away from my house, I looked at Jenna, and said, “There’s a hog-tied man in the boot of my car.” In that moment, I remember thinking, “I sure didn’t learn this in mission’s training.”
I don’t share this story to discuss mental health issues, demonic work, or alcoholism. I share this because over the years of missionary work, I have learned that we need to be able to deal with the unexpected things as they come. There’s no way that our mission’s trainers could have known this exact situation would happen. And if they are reading this, they might even say that we did almost everything wrong! But there is one thing I know that we did right; we prayed. I believe that sometimes we face the unexpected, odd, and sometimes frightening experiences so that we are brought to a place of desperation for God. He is the only one who knew exactly what was happening in that man’s mind and heart in that moment. And when we turned to God and prayed, He did His work. He brought peace, authority, clear thinking, and wisdom. That situation should have rattled us to our core. We shouldn’t have been able to sleep; we should have been filled with fear every time our gate squeaked open. But we weren’t. God covered us in ways we could never have expected.
If you go on the mission field, prepare to be surprised by situations. Prepare to encounter what you think is impossible. Prepare to be put in the midst of situations where you don’t know the way out. How do you prepare for such unexpected things? Your preparation begins now, as you work your 9-5 job, as you shop for groceries, as you pick up your kids from school. Position yourself now to encounter the unexpected things. Are you praying for God to direct you, guide your conversations, and prompt you to engage others? That’s where your training begins. Go!
“May he [God] equip you with all you need for doing his will. May he produce in you, through the power of Jesus Christ, every good thing that is pleasing to him. All glory to him forever and ever! Amen.”