“Wow, that was close!” said David as we looked at each other wide-eyed. During the rainy season, we usually have rain every day. That night, the rain came in sheets, and we heard the rumble of thunder coming closer and closer to our village. Then the flashes and thunderclaps became almost simultaneous as we looked down the hill toward the village. We prayed that the Lord would keep us and everybody in the village safe during this fierce storm.
In the morning, as we were waiting for the men who were helping to build our house to arrive, someone told us that Samson’s house had been hit by lightning during the night. Samson is a church member and leads our work crew since he has some carpentry experience. He was sick with malaria the day before the storm and had left work early to go home and sleep. He arrived at our house later in the morning, and we were able to hear firsthand what had happened the night before.
Samson’s wife Delka is one of the students in my Tok Pisin literacy class, and I had given her a Bible. The night of the storm, she was searching her Bible for the memory verse for the next AY program on Sabbath afternoon. She has progressed a lot in her reading but isn’t yet familiar with her Bible. At about 10 p.m. she woke Samson up and asked him to help her find the verse. It was raining, and they heard thunder coming their way, but it hadn’t reached the village yet. About four minutes later, they heard a deafening noise. Fingers of fire scorched and splintered their wooden roof posts. Their house had been struck by lightning! They had a solar panel on their roof. It didn’t have a grounding line, so the solar panel’s wire caught fire and came down on Samson’s bed, burning the foam mattress and mosquito net. He jumped out of the bed just in time to avoid being burned. “Lord, Lord!” he cried as he ran through the house checking on his children. All of them were safe, and so was Delka.
Samson’s house is built on stilts and is located at the edge of the river. He grabbed a container from his kitchen and ran down to the river, returning with water to put out the flames eating away at his thatch roof. He didn’t remember how he got on top of the house so fast, but he dumped the water on the fire and put it out, saving his house. He and Delka spent the rest of the night wide awake in shock and disbelief.
As the day broke, they were able to assess the damage. The burn marks showed that the lightening had hit the top of the house, traveled along the electrical wire of the solar panel and then continued down to the ground along one of the wooden support posts. Their solar battery, lights and radio were blown across the house, all melted and destroyed. The electricity had also gone through one of the walls where his children were sleeping and out the other side, hitting an old building behind their house, which did not catch on fire. Despite all the damage, nobody in the house had been injured.
After Samson finished his story, I told him that about 15 years ago my father had been killed by lightning while standing on the veranda of his house. I did not understand why the Lord did not protect my father that day, but I rest in the knowledge that He knows what is best for each one of His children. I am glad the Lord protected Samson and his family during the storm, even saving his house from destruction by fire. David and I prayed with Samson, thanking the Lord for sending His angels to surround his family and keep them safe.
Later that day, I told Samson, “You know that you are the worker we count on the most in our house-building project. Satan is trying to stop us from working here, and he tried to destroy you and your family last night. Your death would have deeply affected our mission and our work here. But the Lord is faithful, and He commanded His angels to surround your house and keep you safe last night.” Samson thought for a moment and then said he believed that as well. Satan doesn’t want our people to escape the darkness in which he holds them, so he tries to discourage us. But the Lord is mightier, and He is in control of everything that happens to us.
The next Sabbath, Samson, with tears in his eyes, related his experience to the church. He said, “If it wasn’t for the Lord protecting my family and me, today would be the first Sabbath after our burial. But the Lord gave us another chance to live.”
After the church service, we went to Samson’s house and prayed with his family. We went from room to room, praying for God’s presence and blessing and asking that any demonic forces would be removed. Last of all, we prayed that God would heal the family of all fear of further lightning strikes. As we talked heart to heart with Samson’s family in their home, our hearts were filled with thanksgiving for the Lord’s manifest protection for His children. As Psalms 34:7 says, “The angel of the Lord encamps all around those who fear Him and delivers them.”