22. EAST AFRICA
In East Africa the animals were absolutely fabulous. There were elephants, wildebeest, baboons, lions, deer, antelope and birds by the millions. I walked to and then past the indescribable Mt. Kilimanjaro. I wasn’t ever attacked by wild animals while carrying the cross, but wherever I stopped to get a closer look at the animals I ran into problems.
Once when I had my children sitting outside the Land Rover and 15-foot trailer which was our home on the road, we heard a screeching and howling noise. I looked up just as some big baboons came charging directly at us. The children scrambled toward the Land Rover and Joshua made it just as I slammed the door. The baboons began to jump up and down on the Land Rover, beating and screaming.
Another time I was carrying the cross in an area where there were many elephants roaming. I saw a huge elephant coming across the plain. He was beautiful with perfect tusks. Many times an elephant’s tusks are crooked, but these were perfect in every way. I grabbed my small camera because I wanted to take a picture of the elephant with the cross. I took a stick and leaned it against the cross, squatted down so I had the cross and the elephant in view and snapped the picture. Then, I thought I needed to get a closer shot of the elephant. He began to walk faster and came closer and closer. I took another shot, and then when he was only about 25 to 30 feet away I took my last picture. He raised his long trunk and snorted and began to jump up and down and then began to run toward me. I grabbed the cross and ran as the elephant trumpeted and reared up on his hind legs. I ran down the highway (it was a new road that had just been paved). When the elephant stepped on the pavement he began to jump up and down, he bellowed and backed off. He didn’t like the feel of the pavement. I just kept running down the road. Thank you Jesus, thank you Jesus! I was nearly squashed by an elephant and I only wanted a photograph!
I was passing through the Masai area. The Masai are nomadic warriors whose chief possession is their cattle. They like red things. They live in houses made of manure and mud and the men put cow manure and mud in their hair to make it red. They mainly eat a mixture of soured milk, urine and blood. They always carry spears that are decorated with red trinkets. I was warned by the army not to stop or be alone on the road through this area, but of course I continued what I was doing. One day I came upon a big crowd of Masai warriors surrounding the Land Rover and trailer. I wondered what was happening. When I neared the Land Rover a crowd of Masai was running around wearing little red Jesus stickers all over them, back, front, on their cheeks and foreheads. It was a beautiful sight! They were jumping up and down and singing. They took me to their village that night, I ate with them and they danced and sang and I preached. What a memorable night!
We arrived at Victoria Falls, between Zambia and Rhodesia. Rhodesia is now named Zambabwe (also Zimbabwe), but in 1974 the country was ruled by whites. Victoria Falls is one of the most spectacular places in the entire world. The Zambezi River is over a mile wide at the site of the Falls and the water hits the bottom with such force that it splashes up 300 to 400 feet, forming a mist with glorious rainbows arching one after another. The blowing wind wets the surrounding area making it a tropical garden. We gathered along the edge of the river looking at the setting sun and beautiful rainbows. We got down on our knees to thank God for his beautiful creation, for nature, for the flowers, for the water and for the beauty of the earth.
I soon realized the bridge across the river was closed, the railroad was closed and armored cars were stationed on either side of the bridge. The Zambian Army and the Rhodesian Army were stationed here in this place of indescribable beauty. It was revelation of the worst that there is in the heart of man, for here was war, racial prejudice, greed, discrimination, suffering, sickness and people being blown up in this place of splendor.
Tears ran down my cheeks as I thought of the world the way God intended it to be and the reality of the way it is; of how wonderful God wants life to be and how tragically perverted it has become.
I remained in Rhodesia for almost two months and carried the cross across the country. The conditions were very bad as far as the war was concerned. The discrimination was horrible and the war grew bloodier each day, although I carried the cross along the roadsides and into the cities without any problems. I shared Jesus with the black Africans and white Rhodesians. I spent a great amount of time witnessing to the white mercenary troops that were hired from other countries around the world to fight. I saw many people come to Christ. It was here that I ended my African crosswalk.
I had been in Africa almost two years; it was time to return to America.