I’ve just returned from Kachere prison where I was privileged to preach through a student-interpreter. The boys that gather for the “service” are all between 13 and 20, most incarcerated for theft, burglary, vandalism, etc. It always amazes me how these hardened teenagers who’ve given up hope gather to sing songs about Jesus and dance in praise. I’m not convinced by any stretch that their faith is sincere, only the Lord knows, but it always amazes me how they do sing anyway – a cultural thing I suppose.
I read from the Chichewa Bible Romans 5:8 but then relied on my translator for the rest. I told the story of a village many years ago which was plagued by a pesky monitor lizard fond of eating the eggs and maize of the people. The lizard was troublesome to the villagers and was blamed for the drought also plaguing the land.
The men decided to raise a war party to go into the fields to kill the lizard. As they departed in song holding spears, the lizard dropped from a nearby tree and scurried toward the hut of the chief, who unusually, had not joined the war party. The lizard, finding the chief, informed him that the men would never be able to kill him. He would not allow that. Only one thing could get rid of the lizard. “Only if you, the chief, will agree to swallow me,” the lizard said.
When the men returned from hunting, they were tired, angry, and disappointed having not found the lizard. A little boy informed them that the lizard had gone into the chief’s hut. Sensing the chief was “in on it” the men angrily burst into his hut. Seeing no lizard they questioned the chief as to its whereabouts. Then, the men noticed that the stomach of the chief was moving back and forth; something was alive in his stomach. Without hesitation, the men thrust their spears into the chief, killing the lizard and the chief. The next day, the clouds came, rains followed, and the people feasted like never before. The chief was forever memorialized in the mind of the people.
The story is a Chewa legend describing “why the Chief is the Chief and no one else is,” giving emphasis on his willingness to sacrifice for his people. Of course, it is also a small, yet wonderful picture of what God in Christ has done for his people, giving life eternal and opening the way to the New Tribe. The boys seemed to get it! Thanks for your many prayers as we continue this outreach.