By: Dr. Fred VanGorkom, CVM Africa Regional Director
And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. God saw that the light was good and He separated the light from the darkness. (Genesis 1:3,4)
I stumbled a bit in the darkness, but never saw what caused me to trip. It was dark—no moon, not even distant city lights. Looking up I marveled at countless, fascinating stars. I once read an astrophysicist’s statement that this universe is so finely tuned—if it was expanding at only 1 x 10-61 more rapidly, we’d all explode; if it expanded at 1 x 10-61 less rapidly, we’d all contract and implode. Not very pretty to imagine—but so perfectly fine-tuned!
Still, even as dark as it was I could faintly see the narrow footpath leading back to our mission house in the Ethiopian bush—until it led though our guava grove. Now faint starlight dimmed to impenetrable darkness, and it was all too easy to imagine venomous reptiles under foot.
It didn’t help to remember how one Ethiopian evangelist stepped on a pit viper thinking it was a tree root. He went to heaven that night. We don’t know our final hour…
I slowly scraped my feet along the dirt path, totally blind, feeling for grassy edges, hoping I’d scare any snakes away, berating myself for foolishly forgetting my flashlight when I’d walked up to the Bunna church at high noon. But my life is in His hands; He knows every day of it, before one of them came to be! I came out of the grove at last, grateful to see the house, its widows ablaze with solar-powered light reaching toward me in the darkness.
The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of the shadow of death a light has dawned. (Isaiah 9:2, Mt 4:16))
Every Christmas we are reminded about light and darkness, about King Herod up in his impressive Herodian castle overlooking Bethlehem, with his dark intrigue, murderous cruelty and apparent power—yet today his most magnificent monuments are rotting rubble. And about King Jesus, humbly born in a shepherd’s cave below, spotlighted by one of the brightest, most awesome stars of all human history, bringing love, forgiveness, peace and joy for all the world—and a Kingdom alive and well today and forever—with true power over darkness.
In Him (Jesus) was life, and that life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood it. (John 1:4)
We praise the Lord that we got to help send one veterinary family to Africa last year. And another family has gone just last month. Yet another young family is aiming for next Spring, another after mid-year, and another by next Fall. Lights in the darkness.
Jesus said, “I am the Light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life. (John 8:12)
When you look at Africa, there is so much darkness. Corruption, betrayal, slavery, brutal torture, theft, wars, racial hatred, genocide, famine, diseases like Ebola (Marburg just popped up again), jealousy, sorrow, fear, infanticide, suicide bombing, death… Darkness.
In contrast, the things of the light are so good: love, trust, joy, healing, truth speaking, loyalty, freedom, life! “Righteousness exalts a nation…” Girls get to go to school, economies grow, nutrition and health improves, people live together in peace—when there is light.
For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light… have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness. (Ephesians 5: 8,11)
We’ve watched it happen over and over. Before we left the Bunna people, they decided they would no longer kill babies to appease the spirits for the 13 reasons they used to. The only students in schools were believers who wanted to read the Bible. It is the believers who leave harmful practices and listen to advice about clean water, hygiene, nutrition and disease prevention. In a number of tribes, after a small church was started it influenced the whole tribe to peace instead of raiding and killing their neighbors. Husbands start loving their wives instead of abusing them. That’s light. And it’s SO good—especially compared to darkness!
[Jesus said], “The man who walks in the dark does not know where he is going. Put your trust in the light while you have it, so that you may become sons/daughters of light.” (John 12:35-36)