It was a bright and cloudless night, and the moon was full. The silhouette of a tall, slender man racing through the village past thatched-roof huts caught the attention of a half a dozen young men gathered in the shadows guzzling a flask of tuba, a homemade whiskey made from fermented coconut water. “Hey! Did you see that?” exclaimed one bleary-eyed man. “Sinto is running around the village naked!”
“I think you’ve had too much to drink!” challenged a more sober friend.
“No, really, that Sinto guy is crazy!” Sinto had a reputation for doing strange things around the time of the full moon each month.
But God works in unusual ways to draw people. Eight years ago I was conducting a Bible class at our house using lessons I had written for the Gogodala culture. Our daughter, Johanna, added pictures and colorful graphics that made the lessons interesting and attractive. Our class members included Albert, a mentally handicapped young man who couldn’t read or speak. But he is friendly and happy-go-lucky, and we enjoyed his presence. Not wanting Albert to feel left out, we gave him copies of the lessons we gave the others each week.
One day a new man came to our class. It was Sinto. He held in his hand a stack of Bible lessons we had previously covered. “Where did you get those?” I asked.
“Albert gave them to me.” Sinto loved the lessons and treasured them like gold. He finished the class and started attending our church.
Though Sinto’s strange episodes diminished, they didn’t completely disappear. Our family was on break in the capital city when I got a text message from the village that Sinto was going crazy again. Oh, how we prayed for Sinto! Soon after that, his episodes stopped, and he was baptized. Now he is a faithful member of our church. Praise God!
Sinto’s family has a history of using traditional magical arts. His mother knows the magic words to heal sores, and his older brother is the village “snake doctor.” Whenever villagers are bitten by snakes they go straight to him, and he performs the rituals believed to counteract the deadly venom.
Last week in our Wednesday-morning prayer meeting I asked if anyone had a testimony to share. Sinto spoke up. “The night before last, I had a bad dream,” he said. “I dreamt there was a man who was trying to kill me. He was black-skinned with a short, stocky build. He had his hands around my neck, and I was suffocating. Just then, my baby started crying and woke me up. What a relief! My wife rushed over to our baby’s side and picked him up, but he just continued to cry. Thinking he might be sick, I went over and felt his forehead, but he didn’t have a fever. Hours passed, and our baby continued crying. So I prayed earnestly that God would intervene.
“My older brother [the snake doctor] who lives next door was getting tired of hearing the baby cry. He shouted at me, ‘Take the baby to Balimo!’ [Balimo is the nearest town with a hospital. It is about seven miles away, a three-hour trip by canoe.] It was raining that day, and I didn’t have an umbrella to keep the baby dry so I told him I would not go. ‘I will stay here and pray,’ I said, ‘God will help the child.’”
Another relative suggested using the traditional tree-bark medicine, but Sinto adamantly declined saying, “No, we are not going to use the devil’s medicine anymore!”
Finally, Sinto’s brother could not tolerate the noise of the child any longer, and he ran up the steps and tried to open the front door, but it was locked. Sinto calmly opened the door. Just at that moment, the house became silent. Everyone noticed that the baby had stopped crying. All eyes turned toward the infant lying on his mat happily cooing. Sinto’s non-believing brother exclaimed, “Hey! This is a miracle!” He was so amazed that he called to some neighbors who were outside, “Come and see this! A miracle just happened!”
But Sinto’s testimony wasn’t finished yet. His cousin also had an unusual dream that night. In her dream, villagers told her they saw three eyes going around the village.
Three eyes? Bewildered, I sat there trying to make sense out of this bizarre testimony. Sinto had a beautiful smile and look of peace on his face as he shared his story. At that moment a Bible text flashed through my mind: “The eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth to show Himself strong in behalf of them whose heart is perfect toward Him” (2 Chron. 16:9).
In the context of this verse, Asa, the God-fearing king of Judah, was being reprimanded by Hanani the prophet for not going to God with his problem but instead putting his trust in earthly powers. The application was perfect for this situation, only in a reversed, positive way. Sinto had made a determination to trust fully in God and not use any of the “devil’s medicines.”
I exclaimed, “Sinto, those three eyes were the eyes of God looking around the village to find someone to trust Him! You fulfilled that trust.”