In August of last year I wrote about a man I called Mr. Despicable. Below is another short story about how God is working in his life.
I took the shovel to give him a chance to catch his breath. The ground was rocky, and a stubborn root was slowing his progress as he was trying to dig a hole just outside the doorway of the women’s hut. His expression was blank. His eyes were not wet with tears. His face was not creased with anger. It was impossible to read his emotions. This wasn’t the first baby he had buried. His newborn daughter’s death didn’t seem to faze him. In the harshness of jungle life it was an all too common reality.
I started to dig, but he corrected me. “Not that wide,” Kalafu said. “Her body isn’t very big you know.”
I adjusted the width of the hole and stomped on the shovel, forcing it between the layers of the shale and ground. I hurt for Kalafu. There had been times earlier where I couldn’t stand him. He was after all a cold blooded murderer, and he had even openly professed to work for Satan. He had abused and then abandoned his wife and children when he took his second wife. I couldn’t stand how he had ridiculed the young believers in Jesus, scoffing at them for being so foolish to believe the lies of us foreigners. Now as I was helping to dig the grave I was aware that God had softened my heart toward him.
“I’ll finish it,” Kalafu said, reaching for the shovel. But then he stopped, resting his arm on the handle. “When are you going to start the next class?” he asked.
I wasn’t sure what he was asking, so I hesitated.
“I need to learn to read.”
“Because I have been an idiot,” he answered, and then before saying more he jammed the shovel back into the hole and worked a little longer. Once satisfied with the width and depth he took his axe and cut a couple short lengths from a pole and wedged them into the hole so they were suspended about a foot from the bottom. He then called toward the woman’s hut where his wife had given birth only hours earlier. A woman appeared in the doorway and brought the tiny infant who had been wrapped in a hand woven string bag.I stood nearby, wanting to assist, but felt awkward not knowing what I could do. I couldn’t help but feel the emotion of the moment, wishing I could say something meaningful that would draw Kalafu’s attention toward the Lord.
Kalafu worked in silence, tying the precious bundle in such a way that it would hang from the two poles inside the hole and not touch the dirt at the bottom. Once he was satisfied that her little body was carefully enclosed in the string bag and hung properly, he covered the opening with sections of bark. Then he used my shovel to pull loose dirt over the top, making a small mound, the only thing that would mark the spot of his daughter’s short life. Then he glanced at me but then quickly turned away. “I have done a lot of stupid things,” he said, “and I want you to start a new class so I can learn to read the Bible.”
“I have already been talking with the Bible teachers about it, and I’m sure they would be happy to hear you would like to join.”
“Tell them I’m ready to start right away,” he said. “It’s time for me to hear God’s stories.”
I looked at him and couldn’t help but smile. Where there was death, there was now evidence that God was creating new life.
Please pray every day for Kalafu, his two wives and his children. Pray for them as he and both wives and one of their teenage daughters are now attending the literacy class taught by Fato and Faimpat. Pray the Bible teachers will be able to start a new Creation through Christ Bible study series soon, and that Kalafu and his family will surrender their lives to the love of Jesus that was so clearly demonstrated by His death on the cross.