October 2011 – Encounter with angels

by John E Gore on April 29, 2012

Dear Friends,

I had an experience on this trip which I can’t recall ever having before. I believe two angels, disguised as well dressed young men, came to my rescue in Kigali. I am convinced that this is the only explanation; but I won’t jump ahead of myself. Let me start at the very beginning, which is, after all, a very good place to start.

The first week was with the Burundi Friends, and 70 of their pastors attended the week of training. I taught on Ephesians with an emphasis on husband/wife and parent/child relationships. It is a shame that our bibles divide Ephesians 5:21 and 22 into separate verses for in the Greek the word that is translated “submit” only occurs once. That is, what the believers should do to “one another” in verse 21 (submit) is the same thing that a wife should do towards her husband in verse 22. Unfortunately, the Africans, as do many Westerners, misinterpret this word to mean “obey” when it applies to wives in verse 22 and something totally different in verse 21, when it is referring to our fellow believers. They see the husband as the boss who tells his wife what to do. It is hard for them to grasp that the male believer is to submit to the female believer in the same way as the wife is to submit to her husband.

We had a great deal of worthwhile discussion and I enjoyed it immensely. I love being with this group for many reasons. Firstly, they are open to looking at new interpretations from the Scriptures; they have a high view of Scripture and they don’t have a closed mind to new ideas. The other factor I love is that they are positive and growing. There was no negative talk -”we can’t grow because we are poor and we need money from the West” – rather the conversation often centred on planting churches; “this pastor is planting two new churches” or “that pastor planted his church last year and he is going to plant another one next year”. It really was exciting.

The highlight for me occurred when the Friends’ Legal Representative, Levy, invited me to his home for an evening meal. It was a very enjoyable experience and that night I stayed in a nearby ministry centre. As we were walking back to his home for breakfast I noticed a large church building on the hill – it could probably seat 4,000 people or so – and Levy told me it was “Swedish Pentecostal”. I then asked why the “Swedish” Pentecostals were so large throughout the country. His reply was: “They do much evangelism and their pastors are well trained”. Then, without pausing, he said, “That is why we appreciate so much what you are doing for us”.

It is hard to explain the deep-seated sense of excitement that I felt when I was teaching the pastors later in the day. It is so rewarding to know that what I was doing was recognized by the leadership of the denomination and seen to be making a very positive impact, resulting in considerable growth. I am so grateful to God that he is using me in this way.

I then spent a week with the Pentecostal Assemblies of God in Bujumbura, a week with the Revelation church in Kabarore (Eastern Province) and then three weeks with the Friends pastors in Cyangugu (SW Rwanda), Bugesara district (central Rwanda) and Musanze, at the base of the Volcanoes National Park which is the home of the Mountain Gorillas in north Rwanda.

When the Legal Representative of the Rwanda Friends was closing the week’s training in Bugesara he said, among other things, “We thank God for the beautiful gift of John Gore”. You can see why I feel so grateful to God for the opportunity to work with these pastors.

Our sleeping quarters

It was so rewarding even though there are hardships. There is no electricity or running water in the village where we stayed. We slept on a piece of foam on the concrete floor in the administrative office of a building that is used to raise chickens. (My nose left me in no doubt as to what they normally kept in the back section of the building.) The toilets were nothing more than a hole in the ground. But praise God, we had a very enriching time.

I mastered this toilet well!

I also spent two weeks in Uganda but space doesn’t permit me to elaborate on that.

Now for the angels! I want to explain what happened in detail so that you won’t be tempted to write it off as a coincidence. I hope you are encouraged by the following full description. It started when my hosts tried to buy a ticket for me to travel back to Kigali from Muzanze on one of the ‘more reliable’ buses. Unfortunately, all seats were reserved for the next three hours which would have meant that I arrived back in Kigali in the dark; something which the pastors didn’t think was a good idea. They found a ‘less reputable’ bus which was leaving in an hour, bought a ticket and put me on it. They assured me that they would phone the representative in Kigali with the details of what bus I was on and what time I would arrive. (Each bus company operates from a different part of the city so this information is crucial.)

Everything was going well until we reach a major bus stop on the outskirts of Kigali when the bus had a flat tyre. Apparently everyone was ordered out but I was one of the last to leave for I don’t speak the local Kinyarwanda language. I also quickly discovered that no one spoke English. For people who live in the Western World it is hard to imagine what these ‘bus stops’ are like. They are frequented by swarms of poverty-stricken young men in dirty-looking tee shirts, old trousers and bare feet or maybe thongs. They aggressively push and shove trying to grab your luggage so that you will agree to let them carry it somewhere and give them a tip. This is their source of income; they are simply trying to survive.

I vividly remember standing on the concrete after I had left the bus, with one hand on my computer and the other on my luggage to stop it from being picked up and taken away, and looking around for a phone or something that might help. I saw nothing. There were a few other factors: firstly, it was starting to get dark; secondly, I don’t carry a phone with me to Africa, so I couldn’t contact anyone; and finally, I didn’t know the location of the bus depot where my driver was waiting. I have an excellent sense of direction and I am sure that had I been on a bus from the same company that took me up to Musanze I could have hired a taxi and found the depot, but this was a different bus line and I didn’t know where the driver was. I asked again if anyone spoke English and tried to negotiate the use of a phone but no one could understand.

While I was standing there wondering what in the world I was going to do, two young men suddenly appeared from the crowd and asked me in perfect English if I had a problem. These young men were dressed impeccably in clean, smart, casual well-ironed shirts, spotless pressed trousers and polished brown leather shoes. These types of people do not frequent these bus stops and I had not seen them as I was surveying the crowd looking for anyone or anything to help. I told them the problem and they produced a mobile phone and called the number I gave them. Eventually, they discovered where my driver was waiting and told me that they would take me there.

I remember looking at them, maybe staring would be a better word, and being amazed at how neatly dressed they were. I can remember looking at one man’s trouser belt thinking that it was a perfect size for him and how well his trousers fitted his body, which also seemed to be the ideal shape. (My trousers never fit me that well.) They were wearing high quality clothing: certainly a higher quality than I would buy. Even now, as I type this letter, that sense of amazement that I had when I looked at this man’s belt has returned. One of them was clearly the leader and did most of the talking. He really did take charge of the situation.

They went to the road and stopped a bus; directing me to the front and ensured that my bags were safely in the back before all three of us boarded the new bus. One of the “dirty looking” youth had brought my bags across and the leader gave him a tip for his effort. Amazingly, I wasn’t asked to tip the ‘porter’, which is what normally happens. When we arrived at the correct bus stop we alighted and I went to pay the conductor for the three fares but the leader of the two told me that it had been taken care of. I said to the conductor, who was putting my bags on the ground at the time, “How much did I owe?” He just smiled at me and said in English, “Nothing, it’s OK”. Anyone who has been to Central Africa knows that this doesn’t happen. The conductors and drivers on these buses usually have to give the owner a set amount of money each week and they live on what is left over. They do not let anyone travel for free and they make sure that all seats are taken.

Once the young men had my luggage they quickly walked up the street and around the corner to a large open space where many cars were parked. The light was very poor by now. I tried to follow but I was a little distance behind them. They walked straight up to the car where my driver was waiting and shook hands with him as he alighted from the car. I was so relieved to see him that I didn’t think any more about it until later that evening when I thought, “How did they know to go straight to that car when there were many others in the area? They didn’t ask me if I knew what the man looked like and they didn’t phone him to ask, ‘Where are you exactly?’ they just went straight to him.”

At this point I was very happy and greatly relieved and I pulled US$11 from my wallet (which is quite a lot in Rwanda) and gave it to them for their help. Then I was so pleased I wanted to give them an extra US$5 (the last I had), but they graciously refused it and said that they couldn’t take it. Again, anyone who knows Central Africa knows that these people are poor, very poor, and they don’t refuse money when it is given to them by a mzungu (white person).

It is interesting for me to read the emails that I sent to Carol at the time. I had access to the internet that evening (6 August) and I sent an email to her telling her what had happened and finished by saying, “They were a great example of what Rwandan youth can be. However, this was God’s blessing because I have never met anyone like them before. The bus stops are usually crowded with a lot of vultures trying to carry your bag or sell something for greatly inflated prices. God truly did come to the rescue”. The next time I had access to the internet was on 10 August and I wrote, “I am convinced that the two young men who came to my aid in Kigali were angels. It was so weird, that this is the only feasible explanation.”

This incident in Kigali happened over two months ago now but I still have a great sense of excitement every time I think about it. God loves me so much that he sent his angels to rescue me when I was in a dangerous situation. I trust this incident strengthens your faith.

Every Blessing,

John

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