Focus Article – Blessing of a Breakdown (Sabbath Recorder, Jan 2016)


I was in a small seven passenger van headed to church one Sabbath morning in early October of last year when the engine stalled and we coasted to a stop on the left-hand side of the road. This was the safer and appropriate side of the road because they drive on the left in Uganda. I had warned Johnmark Camenga before we left that we could lay out a schedule of where we planned to go, but delays, long conversations, and mechanical failures
would likely require us to be flexible.

Even still, I had to remind myself to be patient as we stood on the roadside hoping someone would stop to assist us. It may just be me, but I like it when a plan comes together, and I can begin to feel frustrated when things do not go the way I had in mind. I tried to orient myself to the present moment as I took in our rural surroundings.

20160111_02Meanwhile, we became the object of curiosity for a small number of children who lived in the tin roofed dirt houses interspersed along the two-lane ribbon of blacktop bisecting the parched countryside. I began to wonder if a providential plan involving them was the reason we had been delayed. The kids did not speak much English, nor was their language the same as that of our hosts, so communicating with them would be a substantial challenge. However, their more English literate parents from the nearest home became emboldened by the pluck of their children and
ventured to make our acquaintance.

20160111_03The simple fuel problem had by now become a battery issue and it appeared it would be some time before we could get on the road again. Standing in the sun, one of our hosts inquired of the home owner now at hand, if we could move under the shade tree near their house close by and have a little open air time of worship while we waited for assistance with our vehicle. The locals were glad to accommodate and brought out some short stools from their home so that we would not have to sit in the bare reddish dirt.

We prayed as a few of the neighbors gathered around us on their own carried stools or woven mats. Then we opened our Bibles and together began to discuss some passages in Mark and Matthew and how they were related to each other and how they were applicable to our own lives. The locals told us they had regularly been to churches, but were instructed as to what to believe and had never studied and discussed the Word of God as we were doing. By the time our vehicle became serviceable again, some of the locals had shared contact information with our lead pastor and expressed a desire for him to arrange a time that he could come back and work with them in studying the Bible and following Jesus.

We went on our way, with me feeling that my suspicions were confirmed that this had been an appointment, not merely an inconvenience. It reinforced my conviction that I need to be watching for opportunities to be available for the world to better understand my Savior, especially when something in my life is askew or my plans are not working out. If God is bothering to interrupt my life so that I can participate in His plans, I want to be an alert servant and not deafened to His promptings by my own grumbles.

 ~ Clinton R. Brown, Executive Director

  •   For the January 2016 Sabbath Recorder click HERE