God’s Perfect Design

Our last day in Botswana; actually our flight leaves in the afternoon. The Bible translation workshop has been completed, and although I’m exhausted I feel more alive than ever. It’s as if God’s hand has physically moved among us for two weeks, and I’m in awe of the way he works. Our host, Jacob, has offered to take us on a drive out of town to a rocky hill where we can climb up to a famous cave.

As we cruise along, the sun rises on the dusty fields clothed in brown tufts of grass, with an occasional squat tree. It is an African panorama just like the storybooks. “This cave we are going to,” Jacob tells us, “Is famous because when Dr. David Livingstone came to our country to preach the gospel, he met with the chief of the village who lived below the cave. The chief listened to Livingstone’s story about God and how he had sent Jesus Christ to be our Savior, and when he was done, he told Livingstone, ‘It’s a good story. I like it. But I can’t believe it. We already have a god. He lives in that cave.’ And he pointed to the rock cave in the side of the hill where we are going. Then the chief told Livingstone, ‘The only way I could believe your God, is if you go up into that cave and come back out alive. Then I’ll know your God is the true God above any other. Livingstone looked at him and said,  ‘Very well. I will not only climb up into that cave, I will spend the night in there. And when I come back, you will know that my God is the true God, and that my gospel is the true way for man to come to God. The chief agreed, and off Livingstone went. Sure enough, when he came back the next day unharmed the chief accepted the gospel message and immediately became a Christian. Not only that, he used his influence over the community and soon most of them had also believed the gospel. These were the first converts in Botswana!” Jacob finishes the story, a note of pride in his voice
Then he adds, “This is my village; that chief was the chief of my tribe. Our people were the first to believe the gospel!”

“What!” I exclaim unable to suppress my excitement and surprise. “You mean to tell me that you and your family are the living fruit of Dr. Livingstone’s ministry here? And God’s plan more than one hundred years ago to prove himself more powerful than any god of that cave, has produced a harvest I’m witness to?”

Jacob nods with another chuckle. “Yes, it’s true. That’s how it happened.”

I sit back and watch as the glow of the morning sun brightens. An intersection and we turn left. Rocky hills crop up on the right, and then Jacob is easing the truck onto a dirt path. The cave, looms several hundred feet above us in the side of a huge rock outcropping near the top of one hill.

This is where God gave the gospel a foothold in Botswana. And now more than one hundred and fifty years later, our ministry of Bible translation is possible because of the legacy of Dr. David Livingstone. This cave, an enduring phenomenon of creation, is suddenly so much more. It is a marker to God’s faithfulness, a reminder that His Word runs through all the earth.

My mind flashes forward in time, as I try to imagine what God might have planned in the next one hundred and fifty years, and how our simple acts of obedience sown in the dusty soil of Africa might produce fruit for eternity.

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