Today Derek continues with his experiences in the army as a soldier for Christ. He tells of a night God anointed him to pray for the people of Sudan and the privilege of leading the first of these to Jesus. This is an exciting story of the life of faith Derek had with God.
We got to this station somewhere north of Khartoum, and I looked out on the platform and it was just a sea of living beings. Men, women, old men, children, babies, donkeys, mules, camels, chickens, everything. And quite without planning it I said to myself, “I wonder what God thinks of all of these people.” And I got an immediate answer. I wasn’t expecting it. This is the answer He gave me. “Some weak, some foolish, some proud, some wicked, and some exceedingly precious.” That’s how God views humanity. Some are weak, some are foolish, some are proud, some are wicked, but in the midst of them all there are those who are exceedingly precious.
Well then I ended up in charge of what the British Army calls a Reception Station, which is just a little kind of holding thing for people that are going to hospital. I was in sole charge of it. It had two beds with mattresses and they also provided flannel nightdresses for the patients. Well, there were no patients and this was the first time I’d had the opportunity to sleep on a real bed for years. So I indulged myself. Also it was the first time I didn’t have to sleep just in my underwear. Because the British Army, unlike the American Army, never provided us with pajamas. So I put on one of these white night dresses, and lay down on a real mattress. But the Spirit of God came upon me sometime in the early hours of the morning and I had this tremendous burden of prayer for the people of the Sudan, the northern Sudan who are totally Muslim. It had nothing to do with my human emotions, because they are not very lovable people. In fact, they are rather fierce people. The name of the particular tribe I ended up with was Hudunduwa (?) and the British had had a war with them some previous generation. The British soldiers called them Fuzzy-Wuzzies, because the men did their hair up with mutton fat about nine inches above their heads. They carried spears and they would just soon throw a spear at you as say, “How do you do.”
Well, I found myself in a totally sovereign attitude of intercession. My heart poured out for these people and I had a supernatural experience. As I looked down at my white night dress, it was glowing with a supernatural light. I realized I had touched the heart of God.
Well, then the army sent me on to a little place over the Red Sea hills called Djibate, a miserable hole in the desert. There was a small hospital there where they were caring only for Italian prisoners of war, of whom there were thousands as a result of the war in Egypt. Though I was supposed to be caring for the sick, because I had a certain amount of education and could count and add and write, they always put me in a different job. Also, when they realized I was a Christian they would put me in charge of things that other people couldn’t handle like the beer and the chocolate because they could trust me. So I very seldom had any nursing assignments. So in this hospital I was put in charge of the rations, the food supplies, and the local Sudani laborers who were responsible for doing the menial work in the hospital.
The Sudani in charge of them was called Ali. He was a bad character. He was a brawler. He kept back some of the money that he received as wages for the people under him. He was altogether a rather notorious character. So he and I met every day in my little office to plan the work for the hospital. I just didn’t have anything in common with him, until I discovered and I could find this strange, that he believed in Satan. I said, “Well, I believe in Satan too.” So that was our point of meeting. We both believed in Satan.
Then one day he came to my office and he was limping and he was late and he said, “I had to go to the dispensary to get something. I’ve got a sore on my foot.” Well, I had been reading the New Testament and I knew that you could lay hands on people and they would be healed. But I had never seen anybody do it. So I explained to him this is what the Bible said in very simple language. I said, “Would you like me to lay hands on you and pray for you?” He said, “Yes!”
Well I can still remember. I treated him like a bomb that might explode at any moment. And I very gingerly put my hands on him and said a nice formal prayer and thought, “That’s it.” About a week later he came into the office, showed me his foot. It was completely healed. Then he was very interested in my God. So I began to read to him from the New Testament. But I only had the King James Version. People had no other versions those days, and he had a very limited knowledge of English which he’d picked up from soldiers, which was definitely not King James.
So I would read the King James and interpret it into the English that he could understand. He became more and more interested. Well we really became friends, I would have to say. And he was very interested in teaching me to ride a camel. I had reservations, but in the end I agreed. Now I don’t whether you have ever been to the pyramids in Egypt, but they’ve got camels for tourists that are just—I mean they don’t misbehave in any way at all. But Sudanese camels are not like that. And riding a Sudanese camel is quite a test of your patience. The thing I discovered about a camel is it’s never completely stable. When one part is going up another part is going down. But I passed the test. I succeeded in riding the camel that he provided.
Well, then we decided we’d have a little picnic. Go out into the desert, take some food with us from my store and just have a picnic. So we went out quite a distance and stopped at a little place where there was a little brackish stream flowing down the hill, brought out the rations, but I’d brought no water with me. So he said to me, “Well, we, Sudanis, drink this water but you, white people, don’t.” Well I said, “The Bible says if I drink any deadly thing in the Name of Jesus it will not hurt me. So I’ll drink it in the Name of Jesus.” This impressed him. I mean I saw he really saw there’s something in this religion.
So we were at that point in John chapter three in my reading about being born again. And so we read about being born again, and then we got on our camels to ride back to the hospital. And all the way back to the hospital he was talking about being born again. “What is being born again? How can you be born again?”
And I said, “Well, God gives you a new heart.” Well he just laughed. Because all he could think of was a physical heart. But then I said to him, “Would you like to be born again?” He said, “Yes, I would.” I said, “Listen, this evening when you get to your hut and I get to my little billet, when the sun goes down you pray and ask Jesus to be born again, and I’ll be praying for you in my billet.” Well, we met again next morning and I looked at him and I said, “Did you pray?” He said, “Yes.” I said, “Did you get it.” He said, “No.” And I felt discouraged.
But then I felt the Holy Spirit whisper to me, “Remember, he’s a Muslim.” So I said, “Did you pray in the name of Jesus?” He said, “No.” So I said, “If you want to be born again, you have to pray in the name of Jesus. Will you do that?” He said, “Yes, I will.”