About 12 miles from the station on which we lived was an unregistered “bush primary school” – a school for grades 1 to 4, with a teacher who lived on the plot of land. And, the “bush school” was also a “bush church”. It was at a place called Nkonze.
The teacher was an evangelist of the African church. “Barnaba” (Barnabas) by name. I had general oversight of the school and often visited. Since I was helping the local African pastor, I spent many a Sunday there, preaching, encouraging the folks from the area who came to the Sunday services – and eating good Sukuma meals prepared graciously by Barnaba’s wife.
Preaching time one Sunday. I was well into my message on the Fall in the Book of Genesis. It was a hot day, almost noon and the schoolroom/church was hot inside. There were windows only on one side, the door was at the opposite end from where Barnaba and I were sitting. There were 2 long poles (pillars) in the middle of the room holding up the grass roof.
And against one of the poles was a young lad, sitting on the dirt floor and leaning back. Either the heat or boredom had taken over and he was sound asleep.
He woke up. The first thing he saw was the grass roof since his head was bent backwards. And, the second thing he saw was a snake making its way though the pole rafters.
SNAKE! he yelled. And it dropped to the floor. The whole congregation moved for the one doorway. Some jumped out the windows. Barnaba and I were left sitting in the end, not moving, as the snake slithered around the floor. There was nothing we could do.
Finally it found the door and went out – out where the congregation had gone. The real timid ones scattered further; a couple brave ones found rocks and pounded the snake to death.
All were now happy. Someone found a hoe, dug a deep hole, threw the dead snake in and buried it. Calm restored. But no one would come in for me to finish the message. After all, where there is one snake, there is sure to be another!
My message for that day. The temptation of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. Talk about a living example of the “…that old serpent, the Devil… .” who disrupts all facets of life. I suggested to Barnaba that the next Sunday he needs to preach about what God has provide to redeem us from the actions of “the Snake”.
And, I enjoyed another good African meal!