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"Out of an Horrible Pit" (Ps 40.2-3)

R C Allison

From "Leaves from the African Jungle" - R C Allison.

During one trek in the remote Shinji bush country George Wiseman and I learned the following story of two men who had gone to the diamond mines under forced labour conditions for eighteen months. When their time was completed and they were allowed to return home, they tied all the possessions they had accrued during that time into loads they could carry, and set off through the bush towards their village.

The men hurried along the familiar path, unaware that a hunter had dug a game pit across it. Suddenly they both tumbled into the pit. Fortunately for them, although the pit had been shaped so that they were unable to climb out of it, there were no spears in the bottom. They shouted and shouted for help. But there was no response. Only the birds of the trees heard and became excited. After some time, a hunter passing by heard the birds chattering excitedly, and was alerted that all was not normal along the path. Then he heard the noise in the game pit, and approached cautiously.

"Wait a moment", he shouted down to the two men. "I cannot manage alone. I'll run to the village for help".

So the men waited in the terrible silence of the bush, suspecting that the hunter would never return. They knew their own people well and, according to custom, the villagers would suspect the hunter of having caused the men to fall into the pit. Rather than take of chance of being blamed, the hunter would probably never mention having seen them, and they would never see him again, they thought.

Must to their surprise, however, the man who promised to go for help did so, and within an hour he returned with several others. The men had a strong rope of tree bark, and lowered it into the pit, calling out, "Catch hold of this rope with your two hands! Hold tight!".

The first man looked at the precious bundle he had carried for several hundred miles. What would he do? To grip the rope with both hands meant he could not hold on to his possessions. He had a choice. Either he accepted his life without his goods or he would remain in the pit with them and die. Letting go his bundle he was pulled up onto the path. The second man reasoned differently; he steadfastly refused to abandon all of the things he had acquired in the diamond fields. "Hichika muhamba we" ("Leave your load and get saved from death"), pleaded the men. He would not leave his bundle behind. The law of the jungle prevailed, and the man was left to die slowly in the pit.

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