Sought and Found: Chapter 2

 •  5 min. read  •  grade level: 7
IN all the countries near the equator there is hardly any twilight, as darkness follows very quickly upon sunset, so when the first evening shadows began to gather, Sholabi knew she should not have much longer to wait. Already minutes seemed like hours, when her ear caught the voice of her son calling a cheery good-night to a friend, and singing softly to himself as he drew near the hut. Surely it was the tune of a Christian hymn; she had heard it once before when passing the house of the preacher. It was enough to confirm her worst fears; it seemed as if the last ray of hope died out of her heart as she listened.
Fakoyo entered, and, after bowing his head for a few moments, began to eat the food his mother had placed before him. She moved about the hut in a quick, nervous manner, but for some time it seemed as if her tongue was tied. At last she said, "My son, my heart is very heavy. I have heard strange things to-day. It has been told me that you have forsaken the gods of our fathers, that you have been to the house of the preacher, and you have listened to the words of the Christians. But oh! my son, for the love I bear you, tell me this is not true? Say that you will worship the gods with me to-night.”
The young man was silent for a few moments, and when he spoke, it was very gently. "What you have heard, my mother, is true. It is now quite a long time since some of my companions began to tell me of wonderful words they had heard from a great book. The book said there was only one true God, who had made all things, that He is very good, and that He wished us all to love and serve Him. The book also said that idols are nothing but wood and stone, the work of men's hands, and I knew that was true, for I have often seen the priests making them. My heart was hungry, and I listened to all they could tell me of the words of the book, and when they could tell me no more, I went with them to the house of the preacher, and he told me not only that God is very good, but that He is so full of love that He gave His own Son to die upon the cross for sinners; and as I listened, joy came into my heart. I shall never again worship the gods of our fathers.”
Sholabi had listened in silence, only now and then a low moan escaped her lips. Then she pleaded with him by every argument she could think of: his love for her, her fear of the anger of the gods, the terrible punishments which she believed would fall upon any who forsook them, the contempt of his former friends, the anger of the men of the village, who were, she told him, even then laying a plot to drive the Christians out of the village and burn their houses.
But it was all in vain; he listened quietly, but remained firm. He had, only a few days before, given up heathenism, and really knew very little about the truths of the gospel; but the little he did know had taken a firm hold of his heart and he could not, dared not, draw back.
The news that Fakoyo had joined the despised and hated Christians spread far and wide, and a time of severe testing lay before the young convert. The old men cursed him; and to the mind of the African a curse is something to be greatly feared. The young men scorned and ill-treated him; his former friends shunned him; but the truth had taken a firm hold upon him, and "kept by the power of God" he held on his way, though, perhaps, what touched him most deeply was the spiritless, heart-broken way in which his mother moved about the hut or went on her daily errands for water or firewood.
But a day came when the heathen neighbors were almost wild with joy, though the mother's heart seemed breaking with the weight of a great sorrow; Fakoyo was sick. stricken down with a disease from which very few ever recovered. The anger of the offended gods had, they said, fallen upon him, and he would surely die. His mother was in despair. By day and night she pleaded with him to give up his new faith and allow her to make for him just one offering to the gods. Perhaps, even at the eleventh hour, their anger might be turned away, and the progress of the terrible sickness checked. But he refused.
Hour by hour Fakoyo grew worse, and became so low and weak that it seemed as if death must be sure and speedy. The Christians were not allowed to see him, but they knew of his danger, and they knew, too, how hard the battle he was fighting must be, and they found comfort in the knowledge that though they could not see him, there was one thing they could do for him-they could pray. And day after day, long before sunrise, and again when the long day's work was done, they met at the house of the preacher and prayed for him. And how they did pray! with a simple yet mighty faith that took hold of God, and asked, if according to His holy will, that He would make His power known, and by raising up the sufferer prove Himself a wonder-working God.
Even when they heard that his death was hourly expected they did not give up praying. No one went to work that day. They just waited, and prayed that as a sign to the heathen his life might be spared. For some hours he had been in a death-like sleep, but while they waited upon God something little short of a miracle happened-he stirred, opened his eyes, and though still very weak sat up.
The hut was soon filled with awe-struck heathen and happy, rejoicing Christians. All alike were ready to own that the Jehovah-God of the Christians had proved Himself stronger than all the idols of the land.