The torrent raged directly across Benson’s path. Flecks of foam fell at his feet, hurled from the river as if it were some rabid animal lunging to devour him. The flood stretched in both directions as far as his eyes could penetrate through the gloom, and he saw no sign of a bridge or a ford. If he was going to get across, this was the place.
And somehow Benson knew that he had to cross this river. He wasn’t sure why, but it didn’t really matter to him, just as long as he got across. Gathering his courage, he stepped forward. Cold water tore at his thighs. Struggling to keep his balance, he pushed forward, intent on reaching his goal.
Higher and higher the water surged around Benson’s straining body. Suddenly Benson lost his balance and was swept away. Tumbling head-over-heels down the rapids, he reached out for anything solid. He bashed into rocks, and whirlpools sucked him down and spat him back out. Through it all, somehow he kept himself struggling toward the opposite shore.
And then, as suddenly as he had lost his footing, Benson found himself at the other bank. He had no idea how he had gotten there. The river had completely disoriented him, but somehow he had now made it.
Benson awoke in the silence of the night. The dream had been so vivid. What could it mean? Though the dream had been frightful, he felt inexplicable warmth and peace. I’ll have to ask my brother John when he comes back from his trip, he told himself. He will know what my dream means. And with that thought, Benson floated off into a peaceful sleep.
A couple days later, I arrived back in Balangabong after a long trip and went straight to visit Benson. After the usual preliminaries, he got straight to the point. “I had a dream!” he exclaimed, hurrying on to tell me the details. When he was finished, he looked at me expectantly. “What does it mean?”
Now, I don’t consider myself an expert in dream interpretation. However, I believe God meant what He said in Joel 2 about giving dreams and visions in the last days, and I don’t see anywhere where it says that Mrs. White was the only fulfillment of that prophecy. I also have personally seen that God tends to give dreams and visions in places where His Word is penetrating for the first time, especially where people put a lot of faith in spiritual manifestations.
It was also clear that Benson had every expectation that I, who had taught him the stories of Joseph and Pharaoh’s dreams, would be able to interpret his dreams. I could almost hear him thinking, “If the Bible stories and events were true then, then they must be true now, as well.” And so, with a prayer for wisdom and a word of caution to Benson about putting too much faith in my interpretation, I explained the dream to him as best I could based on the symbolism and meanings evident in Biblical prophecies.
When I finished, Benson leaned back, his mind at peace. God had spoken to him, and his teacher had helped him understand. All would be well. I, for my part, prayed that he was right.
It was a couple of weeks later that Benson came to his crisis.
His spinal tuberculosis had been improving, but so slowly that he hardly seemed to notice. He was still in constant pain. Then, on top of everything else, he developed an extremely tender abscess near the deformed vertebrae of his spine. He was about ready to throw in the towel. “Just tell me,” he almost cried. “If I’m not going to get better, then just tell me and let me crawl off and die!”
My supervisor, Laurence Burn, was visiting when all this happened. “I really feel that we should go and pray for Benson again,” he told me the next morning. “And maybe we can ask Benson to pray as well.”
As far as I knew, Benson had never prayed before in his life. But after Laurence poured out his heart begging for God’s glory to be revealed, I led Benson in prayer. I prayed one phrase at a time, and he repeated after me, changing the words to fit his own feelings, and speaking with a fervency unusual for him. Surely God would answer his simple prayer of faith!
But nothing happened. “Why?” I cried out to God. “Throughout history, You have healed people, especially those seeking You. I have personally witnessed You instantly heal many people and even raise children from the dead. Why won’t you heal Benson? How will he know Your power if he never gets better?” There was no answer.
Later that night, Benson had another dream. In this dream he was well and strong again, and he was working in a broad field. Others had tried to work in the field before him, but they had never been able to clear it thoroughly. But he was able to clear all the undergrowth and burn the field clean, ready to plant a good crop.
A couple of days later, on his way back to the States, Laurence was able to put me in contact with an orthopedic surgeon in America who graciously took time to talk me through how to open Benson’s abscess and relieve the pressure on his spine.
A couple of days later I performed the procedure. Suddenly Benson could walk and was almost completely pain free! The surgeon had warned me that Benson should keep as much weight as possible off the weak spinal column, but Benson was so elated at his freedom from pain that he couldn’t help but walk all over the village. “You have to be careful,” I remonstrated with him. “You could damage your spine worse!” But I knew my warnings were hopeless when I woke up one morning to find him on the roof of his neighbor’s house spreading bamboo strips to dry for a basket.
Benson gives all the credit to God. He seems never to have doubted God’s ability to heal him or questioned God’s intentions like I might have been tempted to do in his situation. Now that he is walking, he regularly attends church and prayer meeting and is soaking up truth. Best of all, he has declared his faith in God! Benson is our very first Highland Tawbuid convert!
The fight isn’t over, though. One of Benson’s former shamans is trying to reel him back in and casting doubt on my sincerity in helping him. Benson is still an infant in his faith and is completely illiterate. Please join me in praying daily that God will grow him, and that one day soon He will fulfill the dream He gave to Benson and make him a fruitful worker in the Tawbuid field.