Courage in Danger-A Blast from the Past

(Most of you readers know that I (Rusty) am a MK – missionary kid. I grew up in what was then Tanganyika, returning there as a missionary in 1956. The following is an unforgettable incident from those growing-up years.)

The mentally deranged man, who had been living at the station pastor’s village, came up the road toward our house on the mission station. He had already “visited” the outdoor kitchen of another missionary on the station and overturned all the cupboards there, chased out the workers and broken the dishes. Now he was coming our way.

Two missionary children (my sisters), oblivious of the problem, were climbing up in a tree near the path where he would pass. Maybe he didn’t see them; maybe he was fixated on what he would do when he arrived at our house.

Our house had a Dutch-door leading out to a walk-way that went into the outdoor kitchen. When he arrived, he entered the kitchen and turned over the cupboards, swept all the dishes onto the floor and tried to turn over the hot wood stove.

With a howl of pain from the heat of the stove, he made straight for the door of our house. My mother (Dad was away on safari, due back in a day or so) slammed the door closed. Nuwa, an African worker, was in the house with us. Together, he and Mother tried to talk to the man through the door. The top half of the Dutch-door was opened and together they tried to persuade the man to move on. With a “panga” (bush-knife or machete) he threatened them. He moved away a bit.

Mother went and got Dad’s old Enfield .303 rifle (no bullets!) and stepped outside. The man turned and saw her and came toward her. “Shoot me, shoot me”, he said. Mother quickly came back into the house, closing the door again.

Finally the man left, going back down the path he had come on. The station evangelist, who had heard what was going on, met him and tackled him. Others came to help tie him up. They delivered him to the area chief’s compound where he was kept for a couple days until Dad (who had a vehicle) could take him the 60 miles to town for possible treatment.

The trip to town proved very eventful. While shackled, the man asked to “relieve himself” as they were crossing a sand river. When he didn’t come back, Dad and the guards went looking for him and found him dead. The guard said, “Walya maseni” (he ate sand) which, I guess, was one way to say he killed himself.

For years afterwards this incident was recalled – the actions of the deranged man; the brave woman (my mother) who faced off with him; the African evangelist who subdued him; the trip my Father took with him to town. In it all, and looking back, we see God’s Hand of protection and give Him the praise due Him.

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