Sometimes you hear a story of God that stops you literally dead in your tracks. This is such a story told by Jon Witt.
Last year in the area of Kambwali, some 30km south of Nchelenge, Northern Zambia and close to the border of the Democratic Republic of Congo, children were mysteriously dying at a school. Nobody knew what was causing the sickness, 17 children in all died. It seemed to be some kind of disease that gave haemorrhaging and violent stomach pain. The disease was fatal.
People in rural Africa, quite rightly believe that mysticism and witchcraft has power and is not load of rubbish. Confronted with this situation, many believed that the chief of the area wanted to gain more power and had bewitched the children, to demonstrate his power. At this a mob rose against the chief, and went to his place to beat him. There was one other group that the mob rose against and this was the group that my organisation Dignity, had helped Augustine to create for the community. The groups study the Bible, pray and work for the good of the community. They seek to bring together many from different groups and reach out to those who are ostracised. Earlier in 2010, the crime zone of the village had dropped dramatically in response to the conversion to Jesus of many criminals in the area due to the activity of the group.
As people paid more attention to the Life! group, it caused opposition from church groups that see them as a threat and often they are branded satanists, simply for wanting to help. As such it seemed to some of the people in the village that this “new” group could be satanic and be causing the deaths at the school.
At that time Jo Hardy who works with Dignity was visiting the area with Augustine, a community activist. As part of their visit, prayer was held, and I don’t think Jo was aware of everything that was going on. That’s not a lack of observation, it can be difficult to piece everything together when working through translators.
The bottom line is this – they prayed in the morning and those that died before they prayed were the last children to die of the unidentified deadly disease. No child or adult has died since. People in the area, have literally referred to Augustine, Jo and some of the group as “gods”, when they saw in the days afterwards the answer to prayer. The funny and humbling thing is that Jo does not know anything about it (maybe she does now!)
The very much relieved chief has ordered all his representatives to talk to the group in Kambwali to look at starting groups in many more areas, simply because God has defended His people, His honour, and more than that, stopped the needless death of children from a merciless disease
This amazing story reminds of one of the greatest leaders in the history of the Church, Paul and his visit to Lystra.
“In Lystra there sat a man who was lame. He had been that way from birth and had never walked. He listened to Paul as he was speaking. Paul looked directly at him, saw that he had faith to be healed and called out, “Stand up on your feet!” At that, the man jumped up and began to walk. When the crowd saw what Paul had done, they shouted in the Lycaonian language, “The gods have come down to us in human form!” Acts 14:8-11