Thursday, March 29, 2007

Adventures In Africa! – Part III

Standing behind us were about 20 of Edouard’s church folks, along with a bunch of neighborhood children. When they heard what had happened, almost on cue, they all fell to the ground and started weeping, wailing and mourning. None of us had ever seen anything like it. I turned to my right and shined my flashlight to see small children as young as four and five years fall to the ground and start rolling, writhing and shrieking. They tore their clothing, they put dust on their heads and they wailed! It was the eeriest sound any of us have ever heard. And it grew louder because in Africa, they mourn as a village and the whole village began running to their house to mourn with them. Edouard and David said, “Let’s go!” and we ran in the opposite direction as everyone else so we could go to the hospital and pray for the baby to be raised from the dead. We had been preaching Matthew 10:7-8 all week and our Gospel commands, “Raise the dead”. Now, the pastor’s son had died. What else were we to do?

We ran up the alley and as we ran the sound grew louder and louder. More people had joined in the mourning and you could hear the sound all the way up the alley. We ran to the street and hailed a couple of cabs, split up and headed off to the hospital, about a 20 minute ride away. I was in the cab with Edouard, David and his worship leader. We prayed in the Spirit and without flinching, Edouard looks at us and says, “We will give the baby back to his mother”. We arrived at the hospital and raced to the infant ward where John Wesley had been earlier in the day. He wasn’t there. Another baby had taken his place. We asked some hospital employees where he would be and they told us that he would be in the morgue, but to get into the morgue we would need the death certificate number that they gave to Edouard’s wife. We ran outside, recharged our pre-paid cell phones at a local merchant and called his wife, getting the information we needed. The morgue was just behind the hospital so we took off at a brisk pace to go see the baby.


A MESS IN THE MORGUE
The morgue is a large rectangular concrete block building with entrances at either end. The entrances are iron gates that they unlock to let you in and lock as you come in. Edouard showed the attendant his id and told him that he was here to see the baby. They unlocked the big iron gate and let us in. The attendant was very surprised to see eight of us (4 of us white guys and Edouard plus three of his guys). In Congo, they are very distrustful of whites. In the past, whites (or “Mondeli” in Lingala) have conquered and cheated them for years, so you can understand the bias. He went to the giant freezer in the morgue, opened the door and walked in to open a pull out drawer. Several of us piled in behind him and we had never seen so much death! Dead bodies were everywhere! The freezer was totally full, the drawers were overfilled and there were even dead people on the floor. The attendant opened the drawer, made for one child and there were 4 little bundles in there. We couldn’t see John Wesley because they had bundled him up. The attendant compared the number Edouard had to the number on one of the bundles and confirmed that indeed this was his child.

This is where it got interesting.

Edouard told the attendant that he would like to bless his child and this is part of his religion. He also told him that all of us were pastors and could we please have a few moments with the baby. The attendant shook his head no and quickly slammed the drawer with John Wesley shut saying “No!” Edouard appealed to him as a father but the guy would not relent. He led us out of the freezer and was beginning to shut the door when David stood in front of the door and told him that no, he could not close it and would they please give us a moment with the baby!

After this, it was all a blur. The attendants became very agitated very quickly and started arguing with Edouard and David. Edouard, obviously hot because they wouldn’t allow him to see his child just couldn’t walk away. I also believe that because David was white, his act of not allowing them to close the door sent them into the stratosphere. Out of nowhere some guy in a Circuit City shirt showed up and jumped right in the argument. He actually started getting physical, pushing and shoving Edouard and getting right in David’s face. With the little French I know, I could understand that he was telling them that all he wanted to do was see his child. They threatened that they would call the police. A few minutes later all of the attendants walked out of the morgue, locked the iron gate behind them (locking us in) and called the police.

One of Edouard’s guys was our interpreter and he was so happy to communicate with us in English that he always had this dumb grin on his face, no matter what news that he would convey to us. I asked him what they were saying to the police over the phone and with that dumb grin on his face, he told me that they were telling the police we were destroying the place and causing anarchy. They also told the police that we were violent and that we had come to the Congo to cause trouble. They hung up the phone and assured us that the police would be there to remove us by force and take us to jail. I asked Edouard I this was true and he said that yes, they would come in, beat us and take us to jail. He also said that if the Captain was a wicked man, we would be in a great deal of trouble, but if the Captain was a true Christian, we would be ok. We started praying fervently for a true Christian!

I got our little pre-paid cell and sent my wife back home a frantic text massage saying, “Pray, under arrest”. Here at home they sent out the word and instantly we had a bunch of folks praying fervently for our deliverance. We were praying in the Spirit and asking God to bail us out. On the plane ride over to the Congo I had read an amazing book by Brother Yun called, The Heavenly Man. It’s about 400 pages of graphic descriptions of being tortured in third world prisons for the Gospel. As we sat there awaiting our beating and imprisonment I thought, “That’s why God had me read that book, to prepare me for this… gee, thanks God!” All we could do was pray in the Spirit and think about our families back home.

I grabbed Edouard by the shoulders, looked him in the eye and told him what the Lord was giving me which was the Proverb, “A gentle answer turns away wrath”. An armed guy showed up and he was carrying an AK-47. He asked the morgue attendants waiting outside what was going on and through the gate they were pointing at Edouard and David, explaining the story. What unnerved us all is that when he pointed at David, he did so with the barrel of his gun! He also assured us that we would be beaten and sent to jail. We were scared. That was by far the longest 30-40 minutes of our lives.


DELIVERANCE?
A couple of police vehicles raced into the morgue parking lot. They were like big army trucks with benches in the bed of the trucks. They were filled with police officers. They were decked out in all black jumpsuits and were sporting nightsticks and AK-47’s. They were angry. When they jumped off the truck they were expecting an angry mob destroying the place and were prepared for a fight. At that point we thanked God that they had locked us in behind an iron gate because if that gate was standing open, we would have bled. They raced up to the gate and stopped. They looked at all of us standing there on the other side of the gate and did a double take. They were expecting crazed anarchists and instead they found a bunch of doves! They looked us over and stepped back to interview the attendants. After a few minutes they ordered us out of the morgue and into the back of the trucks.

They had their guns on us the whole way.

We climbed into the back of the trucks and they started asking some questions through an interpreter. They wanted to know if what we had done was legal in our country. We assured them that yes, we had been with the family many times to the morgue. He couldn’t believe it and ran off fuming. He came back a few minutes later and told us that what we have done is illegal! As we later found out, we had broken the law by trespassing in the morgue and what we deserved was a beating by the police, imprisonment, a trial and jail time.

After more conversation the Captain came back to us in the truck and simply said, “We will not beat you”. We thanked him profusely, “Merci Mingi” (Thank you very much!) He came back and said that they do not have a problem with us and if they had, we would have been beaten and handcuffed face down in the back of the truck. Then he said, “Even though I wear the uniform in the outside, I am just like you underneath, I am a Christian too!” We thanked God and breathed a sigh of relief. We would be ok. He explained that we would be taken to the chief to explain the situation.

Just as we started to relax a bit, another truck pulled into the parking lot. This was an army truck and the men inside were all in camouflage and armed with AK-47’s. Without a word they kicked the police off the truck and commandeered the vehicle, securing us inside. They stood at either end of the truck bed and there were two guys in the middle. They had their guns trained on us and I actually looked down the barrel of an AK-47. Nathan had a rifle barrel jabbed in his side. They sped us away from the hospital and the now friendly police into the darkness.

Where were we going and what would they do to us?


4 comments:

MaryAnn M said...

wow

Robert said...

Could you please release part 4 today? I don't think I can wait until tomorrow to read what happened! Be Blessed Our God is awesome

Anonymous said...

I am with Robert. You can't keep us in suspense like this. You must go ahead and release the rest of the story today. I will see you tomorrow in Newnan but I can't wait that long. God is great!

vanessa said...

I know It probably should nor be funny, but U was laughing. This is incredible. Thank God for the Holy Ghost. I am praying with you guys.

God is doing a serious work there. Something truly amazing is going to come out of this. Not that its not already amazing.