Whirlwind

2015 November 5

Dear friends and family,

We have been intending to share a few stories with you that happened before we left for the States. Let me try to remember some of the details...

Three lay evangelists who had attended our two-month laymen Bible training program earlier this year returned to their villages near the town of Fianga to work. They were equipped with fresh ideas and tools to continue their evangelism work, and two of them were especially active. Working in cooperation with the local pastor, these men prepared friends and relatives for baptism and the pastor invited me to be a part of the baptism ceremony.

The drive to Fianga is on about 100 miles of sandy, dirt roads and I get an early start. A friend of mine decides to travel with me and I am glad, since this is only the second time I have driven this route. I snack on a few dried apples and some other food as I drive.

About 5 area churches are joining together this Sabbath for a joint baptism. Arriving in the courtyard of the school where we are going to hold the church service, I am greeted by many cheerful people. I park the Land Cruiser under the skimpy shade of a young Neem tree. I deliver a sermon and appeal to the people to be faithful to God and the truth that they know.

Then the people begin the walk toward the river. It is about two or three kilometers to the river and it is a very hot day. I load the church officials, the old, and the lame into the Land Cruiser and drive through the bush and pick my way around dozens of thorn bushes to get to the river.

Upon arrival at the river, I park the vehicle a little distance from the shore and the pastor and a Bible worker go out into the river and choose an appropriate site to perform the baptism. While they are taking their time with that, I noticed a distant dust devil that was larger than normal, and photographed it with our Land Cruiser in the foreground. Then the dust devil disappeared, and I thought nothing more of it for a while.

Nearby, a group of fishermen and their families are resting under the shade of a grass-and-sticks shelter they built. They are curious about what we are planning on doing in the water without boats or nets. Our group starts singing and members start escorting the candidates out into the water to be baptized. It is a wonderful scene. Our Bible workers are especially happy to see souls that they have led to Jesus now choosing to be baptized.

The group of fishermen, on the other hand, thought it was amusing that we Christians were dunking people under the water and bringing them back to shore. Not understanding the significance of this solemn ceremony, they were laughing and making a joke of the whole thing. Although I could not understand their language, I imagined they were mocking us something like, "Those silly church people, they keep putting the people under the water and bringing them back again. What do they think they are trying to accomplish?" To make matters worse, our church group was also becoming more boisterous.

Suddenly, I hear the startling sound of a mighty rushing wind close behind me. I turn around and see a large dust devil arriving just off the front end of our Land Cruiser! Within seconds, it picks up clouds of dust and grass. As it moves closer to the fishermen's shade shelter, it picks up buckets and clothes and hurls them into the air and every which direction. Adults run for cover as the kids scream with the thrill of the wind. I am glad that the bucket that whizzed past me missed my head by a few feet. The dust devil strikes the shade shelter and collapses one end of it. Roof grass that had been carefully tied and rolled in bundles for sale at the market is strewn around the beach. Clothing and buckets are thrown into the river. Then, as quickly as it arrived, the dust devil moved on across the river.

I run over to the shelter where several adults are lying under the grass and roof supports. They assure me that nobody is hurt, and I return to watch the remainder of the baptisms.

And now, the fishermen have a different attitude. No longer are they laughing at us. No longer are they mocking us. No longer do they wear happy faces. They begin walking around in a more serious mood, collecting their buckets and clothing. One man gets in his boat and poles out into the water to retrieve his shirt and to look for other belongings. The others quietly begin straightening the rolls of grass.

Meanwhile, we finished the baptisms without further derangement.

I believe that God displays a sense of humor sometimes, and that He effectively dealt with our situation in a humorous way. Nobody was hurt, but they got the message. And a number of us left the river joyful for the baptisms and chuckling at our surprising deliverance from the mockers.

You can check out the short video clip at YouTube here:
https://youtu.be/JS6kgJ8sn4M

Please pray for the newly baptized members, that they will be faithful. Please also pray that our Bible workers will be good leaders and encourage the church members to disciple the new members. And please be praying that we will receive the funding we need to order the container of literature from South Korea. We believe that now is the time to shower the place with truth!

(Follow the progress of our needs here:
http://deserttreeministry.org/howtohelp_finance.html )

In His service,
Jonathan and Melody and Gideon Dietrich

P.S. On the way back home, after sundown, one of the thorns that my front right tire acquired while driving off-road through thorn-bush land came dislodged and the air escaped. Thankfully, I had a spare tire and was able to replace it and get home without much more delay.