I slumped onto a fallen tree in the thick forest to wait for my partner and fellow student missionary to catch up to me. We still had 20 miles to hike, and we were tired and thirsty.
Suddenly I realized that we were in rebel territory where soldiers roam searching for “the enemy.” They might shoot us before we could explain who we are. “Lord,” I whispered, “please protect us.” A few minutes later we started up the trail again. I saw a stranger watching our every move.
“Hello, Brother!” I called to him.
“Military?” he asked.
“No, we’re missionary teachers,” I answered.
He smiled. “Do you have a minute? I have some questions.” We sat down again to talk.
The man introduced himself as a rebel leader who had killed many people. Then he asked, “Who are you—really? I know you are teachers providing our people free education. But why are you risking your lives in these mountains for our children?”
“We are Seventh-day Adventists,” I said. “We are in these mountains to tell people about a better life, a life when conflicts will end and Jesus will reign. We teach people to read so they can read for themselves the truths of God before it’s too late.”
I noticed that the stranger seemed to be in a hurry. “Does what I’ve said make sense to you?” I asked.
“Yes, but pray for me,” he said as he stood abruptly and pointed. “Take this trail. The other one is dangerous.” We thanked him and took the trail he pointed out.
The next day we learned that rebel and government soldiers had fought on the trail we had planned to take. If we had continued on that tail, we would have been caught in the crossfire.
A month later at an area-wide worship in our village, we were surprised to meet the stranger from the trail. “Friends,” he said smiling, “I’m now a Seventh-day Adventist! After we met on the trail that day, I wanted to know more truth. Now I’m saved. Thank you!”
“Praise God!” I said. “And had you not told us about the other trail that day, we would have been caught in the crossfire. We, too, were saved by God’s grace.”
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