God’s grace and protection are often things we take for granted – then appreciate in retrospect. I guess that is my confession for things that happened during our 35+ missionary years in Tanzania and Kenya.
I had to attend a medical board meeting at KolaNdoto, about 75 miles by road from where we lived in Mwanza. It was to be a 1-day meeting and, as expected, the return was after sundown. Several missionary nurses from the hospital asked to ‘hitch’ a ride on the return to Mwanza. The Land Rover was a SWB (Short Wheel Base) vehicle and now had four people in it. Fortunately only personal belongings were the loads.
About 8 miles from Kola Ndoto, along the main road, was a small ‘town’ called Maganzo. Being close to the Mwadui diamond mines, with a mix of peoples, shady characters, vice and unfulfilled expectations, it was a place where crime abounded. No one in their right mind would visit the town much after dark! We weren’t going to visit – just pass by at 50 mph on the road.
Just as we cleared the town, a vehicle pulled out up ahead and went up in the same direction we were going. As I got closer to it and could see it better through the dust, I saw it was a lorry (truck) full of men in the back. As I got closer, it pulled off the road, stopped and most of the men jumped down and swarmed out onto the road, trying to stop us. No way was I going to stop at that time of night! I knew they were not seeking help; I was certain they were up to ‘no good’.
And I was right! Though I had to go off the road to miss the men, as I drove by I saw the men running and getting back into the lorry. Its headlights came back on and it came fast up the road following us, obviously trying to catch us.
I stepped on the gas. My passengers questioned why I was going so fast on that bumpy dirt road but I didn’t want to let them know there may be danger behind us. The lorry got closer and closer and, on that narrow road, I wove from side to side to keep it from coming alongside.
Up ahead, through the dark of the night and some dust, I saw some flickering tail lights. Good, a truck going the same direction. I could pass it and in that way get ahead of the pursuing truck with its load of men. It was a big Scania truck.
The threat behind us was getting closer to our vehicle. On a fairly straight stretch of road I quickly drove off the road, bounced across the drainage ditch alongside the road, pulled ahead of the Scania, bounced back across the ditch, pulled back in front of it and drove ahead. This left the pursuing lorry now behind the Scania -and in no way could it pass it.
The road made a slight turn to the right. In my rear-view mirror (left-hand drive vehicle!!) I saw the pursuing lorry stop, drive off the road and turn around and go back the way it had come as it was chasing us. By now my passengers, having been thrown around quite a bit by the way I had been driving, were quite vocal – about my driving! Since we were now clear of the perceived danger, I told them what had been going on for the last few minutes. Silence!
Then, with one voice, they broke out in a song of thanksgiving to the Lord. They all knew of the reputation of that town; knew of police actions there because of robberies, hijacking – and worse – and knew that our Lord had protected – had even used that Scania truck as a bloc against those pursuing us who no doubt had intended evil.