by Pat Lockridge
A group of short-term missionaries rowed up to the shore of the remote island in Malaysia. They were making a “first contact” with a remote tribe. This was to be an information-gathering trip. They would be observing the tribe from a distance. It was raining hard and some members of the group were soaked to the skin. They clamored out of the boat and sloshed through the thigh-high water to reach the shore conscious of the fact that they might not be making a good first impression. The natives that inhabited this remote island were used to such storms, and were obviously better able to deal with them. They sat in their grass-covered huts looking out into the deluge with half-smiles on their faces. Their half-naked bodies were unencumbered with saturated clothing that needed to be removed and dried.
Trevor, the leader of the missions’ group, led them to some palms that provided shelter. After a few minutes, the downpour stopped and the group set about gathering wood to start a fire on the beach. Trevor gathered a large bundle of dried sticks and palm fronds that he dropped into the fire. Suddenly, out of the bundle of sticks came a Malayan snake that immediately attached itself to his hand. Frightened, Trevor shook the snake into the fire.
The natives had begun to come out of their huts to look at these strange people from another land. When they saw the snake attach to Trevor’s hand, they pointed and began to talking rapidly in their dialect. One of the men, a leader, approached Trevor, and acted out what he knew would be Trevor’s fate: swelling, convulsions, and dying.
Trevor was frightened, more frightened than he had ever been in his life. His hand stung, and he could see two points where the snake’s fangs had punctured his skin. Was he really about to die? Who would take his team back to Kuala Lumpur? No one else could speak this dialect, and no one else knew the way back to civilization.
Suddenly he remembered the incident in Acts when Paul had also been bitten by a snake. Nothing had happened to Paul. When the natives in that case had seen what Paul’s God had done for him, it had opened the door for ministry to those natives. Then Trevor heard the Holy Spirit whisper in his spirit: “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever.” (Hebrews 13:8 NIV)
Trevor smiled. His God could deliver him from the snake bite. His God could heal him. His God would bring glory to Himself and confirm the good news they hoped to bring to this remote people. It would be just as it had been two thousand years before when Paul was bitten. He got up, stood straight, and began working to help his team mates.
As expected the natives marveled at this. As they watched Trevor the rest of the day, and when he was not harmed by the snake bite, they said in their dialect, “The LORD-He is God!” (I Kings 18:39 NIV)