In a fit of violent temper, I left home when I was nineteen and
joined the crew of a freighter which was sailing for India. My life
became more and more sinful until I lost all concern for anything of
true worth. It seemed that my wish that I would some day travel so far
from home that I would never again hear the name of Jesus was realized.
I never heard the name of Jesus except in swearing, and I thought myself
In the spring of my twenty-first year, we sailed to South Africa for
ore. There I met two men, Peters and Edwards, who were planning a
safari for ivory into the jungles of Rhodesia. Hearing their plans
fired me with a desire to go along with them. I had a difficult time
persuading them to let me join them, for I knew nothing of jungle life.
However they finally agreed; I deserted my job and slipped away with
After long, difficult months of jungle travel, we found ourselves in
the Zambezi region. An encounter with an enraged elephant herd and
jungle diseases had claimed the lives of several of our porters.
Several others deserted the safari. Space does not permit telling of
how Peters was killed by a lion, and Edwards died with a raging fever.
The porters refused to carry on, and I was left alone in the jungle.
Can you imagine my despair?
For several days, I wandered southward, knowing that my only hope was
to reach the Zambezi River and follow it out of the jungle. After three
days of wandering alone, I began to feel I was being watched. For weeks
we had seen no natives, but I was now conscious that human eyes were on
It was no figment of my imagination. Before I reached the Zambezi, I
was captured by ten natives, armed with spears. They led me to a
village, and placed me in a straw hut. I knew what my fate was, for
this was a fierce tribe, well known for their cannibalism. I knew they
would keep me until a day when all the tribes would gather for an orgy
of feasting. Edwards and Peters had told me of the character of the
peoples in this region. I grimly awaited my fate.
A bowl of plantains was shoved through the door to me twice daily and
that was all my fare. For two days I saw no one and remained in my
dark, guarded hut. Then an escort of several natives came to me. I
found out later that this was Easter Sunday. It had been the most
gruesome Easter I had ever experienced. My life hung by a thread.
I was taken to the hut of the chief, who sat on a bench with his rod of
authority in his hand. Everything was quiet as he scrutinized me with
great care. In aching silence, I stood before this fierce-looking chief
for what seemed an eternity. I held my head up and determined to die
with courage. Then the tribal chief gestured with his hand and spoke. I
can’t imitate his words and shall not try, but I understood him as he
asked, “You know Jesus?”
Never in my life did I hear a name so sweet! I fell right down on the
floor of that dirty hut and wept like a baby. This was the name I had
been running from. I had run this far and could run no further. I cried
to the Lord for forgiveness and yielded my life to Him for His service.
I remembered the quotation of Scripture: “Whither shall I go from Thy
Spirit? or whither shall I flee from Thy presence? . . . If I take the
wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea; even
there shall Thy hand lead me, and Thy right hand shall hold me.” I had
learned the verse at home many years, many miles before. Lying on that
hut floor, I acknowledged to God it was a true promise. That Easter
became an Easter indeed to me.
I stayed with these natives more than half a year, during which time I
taught them much about Jesus. It was David Livingstone who had first
taught them about the Lord, but they were still clinging to many
primitive superstitions. How thankful I was for the background of
Christian knowledge my parents had given me. I was eager to return to
my parents whose hearts I had deliberately tried to break. I feared
that they might die before they knew of my conversion. God was
merciful, however, and they were both living when I reached England ten
months after the time of my conversion. Each Easter became an occasion
of double rejoicing in our home. “I am He that liveth, and was dead”
(Rev. 1:18), said the Lord Jesus. I am living proof He can do it in
your life too.
Originally published in UPLOOK Magazine