A Rhodesian Landmine

I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress,
my God, in whom I trust.”
Surely he will save you from the snare of the fowler ...
(Psalm 91:1, 2. NIV)

Situated as we were at a mission hospital in southern Zambia it was inevitable that the late 1970s Zimbabwe liberation war would spill over into areas near us. And it did. There had already been several incidents. We lived with uncertainty, but were undeterred by the unpredictable. The work needed to carry on.

That day in late 1979 we received a message from the local police that the mobile clinic team had detonated a landmine. I felt the blood drain from me as I listened.  We immediately arranged two vehicles and emergency supplies to proceed along the route we knew they would take. Halfway down the pass into the Zambezi valley we discovered that it was not our vehicle, but a truck transporting maize, that had been blown up. We found the team safe and well at the clinic. They’d gone to visit. 'The fighting is close by. You must get out of here as soon as possible,' was the instruction. So off we set, three vehicles in convoy. 

Half way up the pass, just a few metres from the other landmine it happened. The third of the vehicles caught the blast, was thrown into the air and burst into flames. The driver, Alan, and passenger, Mike, escaped unhurt. 

Leaving the burnt-out vehicle, and still somewhat numbed by the experience we proceeded to the mission. Relief was palpable. One of the first people to come and see us was headman, Charlie Chikankata. If we felt troubled, he looked it. 'There,' said Alan, searching for something meaningful to say, 'It'll take more than a Rhodesian landmine to kill me,' he remarked.

Charlie looked at him, paused for a moment, then shook his head vigorously. Wagging a finger at Alan he said slowly and with great emphasis: 'No, no. It was God!' 

If that was the message the mission intended to convey by all its programmes and activities, then it had succeeded. At least with this, one man had grasped that.

That evening we gathered in a service of thanksgiving. The scripture:  Psalm 91.