Beware the vultures

Toward the end of our stay in Ikland, a young Ik man – we’ll call him ‘J’ – came to visit us. As was his way, he failed to come when I had asked him to and instead showed up on his own timetable, at an hour that I found quite inconvenient. Our mismatched schedules were a metaphor for our relationship. Not much older than J, I still came to Ikland very much as the self-inflated missionary, presuming to be spiritually superior with much to ‘teach’ the local believers. J never bought into my grandiose narrative. He consistently rebuffed my attempts to ‘disciple’ him in the ways of Christ (as did every other Ik I tried with – ha!).

J was the pastor of the local charismatic church that grew up in spite of the Roman Catholicism espoused by the majority of Ik. He is a tall, handsome fellow gifted in public speaking and gentle persuasion. On the day he came to visit me – June 6, 2015 – I had been wanting to ‘serve’ him by praying for him. But once again, he turned the paternalistic table right on its head and instead enthralled and encouraged me. I was humbled to silence as I listened to the testimony of how he became a Christian. That is what I share with you below:

He said he used to be a bad dude, a drinker and a fighter. In 2007, he had access to his father’s gun. Since Dodoth had robbed him twice on his way to school, he began to plot revenge. He planned to kill a Dodoth as payback.

He used to roam far and wide in the bush, hunting and looking for trouble. The gun had a powerful effect on his mind and behavior. One day he fired three bullets toward a river where people were getting water, but he didn’t hit anyone. If he had, he would’ve been killed himself…

As he was plotting to murder a Dodoth, one day Luka Onek [an evangelist] and Siegmar [a German missionary] came up to Lokinene to preach. They started preaching down at the health center which was under construction. Jacob stopped by to listen, his gun tucked under his cloak. He heard the stories from the Bible but told himself they weren’t true. Disgusted with the lies of these outsiders, he headed off southward into the bush to hunt.

As he was walking, he heard a voice saying, “Don’t you realize that your life is in my hands?”

He suppressed this voice because he didn’t like the implications.

A while later he heard the same voice say the same thing again. He ignored it again.

Then, a little later, the voice said:

“Vultures are going to eat your body today.”

When J heard this, he grew very afraid and ran all the way back to Lokinene. When he got back, the evangelists were up on the ridge near the army barracks. J went straight to them and gave his life to Jesus Christ.

J described this event as his ‘calling’. He talked of having a deep burning in his chest, a drive, a desire, a motivation that comes from his calling. He knows he was chosen. I appreciate that because I know I’m chosen. I too have that burning in my chest, more intensely of late. To temporarily ease the feeling, I feel I must pursue some big goal, some ambition…But I am also realizing that nothing – no goal, no achievement, no success, no degree…nothing in this life – can ever satisfy or extinguish this burning, for it is a yearning for God, a desire for ceaseless transcendence – an infinite thirst that will only be slaked in lives to come.


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