Ever get lost? Ever get lost in Maputo and wonder if you’ll get home again? My friends call me Pathfinder because I’ve gotten turned around…a couple of times. *laughs* Maybe more than a couple of times.
It’s February 2011 and I was on a ministry trip. There’s 7 of us driving to Mozambique and I got us lost in Maputo — at night. Just like the gospel writers recorded each event a little differently, I thought I’d let some of the others who were with me share what they saw and heard that night and let you decide what really happened.
Lyle Pennington is a volunteer who helps us out with various events in the Prairies and Alberta. Here’s how Lyle says the day went:
“Ray took us to Maputo to meet a Project Hannah group. Getting through the border into Mozambique was just chaos. It took at least a couple of hours more than it should have. We arrive in Maputo at night, and that’s a very dangerous thing. Ray’s driving and he turns to us in the back seat and says, ‘I’ve made a mistake and we need to pray.’
“We don’t know where we are, and none of us speak Portuguese. We’re driving along and see a shop with a gas station, and the lights seemed to be brighter. Ray goes in to see if anybody knows the way to our hotel.
“A man follows Ray out of the gas station and climbs in. Ray says he’ll pay him to get us to the hotel. The man says, ‘OK, but I’m a Christian. I know where the hotel is, don’t be afraid.’
“There was something different about this man. He said, ‘There’s other people there who I need to see. I don’t have to worry about getting back.’ The whole time we’re driving, the man kept saying I know where it is. Don’t be afraid.
“We never told him we were afraid.
“We get to the hotel and it’s late. We climb out to get our luggage and Ray says, ‘Where’d he go? I need to pay this man.’
“I never saw the man get out of the car let alone leave the hotel. He was just gone. It’s affected me. Now I know God’s going to protect me.”
Jason Brown is the TWR Canada Director of Operations and was in the car that night.
That was my first ministry trip to Africa. On that 18 day trip, we’d already been to Johannesburg, Swaziland, and Mocuba (Mozambique), so safety became somewhat relative. We were headed to Maputo to meet with the National Director and visit a Project Hannah group.
As we were driving, Ray got quieter and quieter – for Ray – and then he let us know that he had no idea where we were. We were in Maputo, near downtown but had no idea where our hotel was. It gets dark earlier there than here, I think it was about 8PM but not later than 9PM.
Ray stops to ask for directions. Those of us in the van prayed while he was inside. Ray came out with a local man and I thought, Oh – Ray’s made a friend. *laughs*
The drive wasn’t long, maybe 15 minutes to the hotel. I trusted Ray to get us where we needed to go, so don’t remember too much about that day. I didn’t really know Maputo or its reputation. I tend to be rather pragmatic so I’m not easily excited about such things.
The man did mention that he knew TWR and he may have also been a listener.
After we arrived at the hotel, a group of us went inside with Ray to confirm our reservation. We were standing around in the lobby waiting, but I don’t know where that man went. I assume he got a tip from one of the security guards or someone at the hotel.
We had something to eat at the hotel and two of our group decided to go walking on the beach. It was 10 or 11PM. They met some security people of one sort or another and came back fairly quickly.
Lyle (and others) think that perhaps we entertained an angel unawares. Jason sounds like he’s more convinced the man was simply a good Samaritan. I remember the story a little differently again.
I got lost coming into Maputo. I’ve driven by myself in Maputo many times, but I know the city by landmarks and I couldn’t see the buildings at night.
I knew we were in a bad part of town and all I could think about was that I was responsible for everyone in the car. I was concerned this trip would end badly.
I stopped at this gas station to get directions and walked inside with another fellow who could speak Spanish which seemed close enough to Portuguese. It was busy inside, but this guy pops up and says he speaks English. He’ll show us where the hotel is.
I led the man to our car. I didn’t see him as a danger or I wouldn’t have let him in the car, but that’s the only time I’ve ever done that before or since.
In the car, I try and make him laugh. I joked that we were afraid to let him in the car. He said, don’t be afraid. He had a gentle spirit and for some reason I felt at ease in his presence. We were only 15 minutes away from the hotel, it turned out.
We get to the hotel and I go inside to confirm our reservation. I come back out and he was gone.
Later, two of our group went for a walk and met some concerned locals. They told our friends not to be out at night and to go back to the hotel and stay there. That was a quick reminder just what kind of city Maputo is, especially at night for tourists.
This trip made a great impression on many of those in the car that day. Whether that man was an angel or a good Samaritan, either way God was watching out for us.