Cosmos Banda from Zambia tells his true story
Lions are more dangerous in the morning than at any other time of the day.” I learned lessons like this, not at school, but in the evenings around the fire in my village. Many years ago in my village, the young people sat around the wood fire every evening, to listen to stories told by our grandparents. Some were old stories that our grandparents learned from their grandparents. These stories were always interesting. No young person wanted to miss them. We learned many useful things too, especially how to stay safe when we were out in the bush. “Your life depends on how you follow what we say,” the older people told us.
The grass was shaking
One day I was walking home from school through the bush. I followed the rules that I had learned by the fireside – watching and listening carefully as I went along. Suddenly, far away to my right, I saw the grass shaking. Whatever the animal was, it was coming nearer to me. We would meet on the path if I was not careful. I knew it was a large animal because a big area of grass was shaking.
I was sure that the animal knew I was there. It began moving more quickly. Things were happening fast and I needed to think faster or it would attack me.
I quickly left the path and stood still, as though I was a tree in the thick grass. The animal came to the place where I had been a few seconds earlier. It was big, with a bushy head. I had seen a lion – a dead one – once before, so I knew this was a male lion. It looked strong and showed no sign of fear. The great animal squatted down on the path, looking straight at me. His nose was sniffing the air. I was sure he could see and smell me.
It walked past me
I do not know how long the lion sat there. Thoughts were turning round fast in my mind! Then I remembered some words that I learned at school. Jesus Christ said, “I will do anything you ask of my father in my name … If you ask anything in my name, I will do it.” * I remembered that lesson very well. I started to talk quietly to Jesus. All that time I was looking straight at the lion. I did not close my eyes, even for a second. I was petrified.
At last, the lion slowly stood up. It moved as if it was coming towards me, then it walked past. Yet it must have smelled that I was there. It must have seen me!
As soon as the lion left, I started to run back to my school as fast as I could. I made sure that my feet did not make any noise. As I got near to the school, I stopped and looked around. Was the lion chasing me? No, I was alone. Then I must have fainted. The next thing I knew, something was shaking me hard. Was it the lion? I jumped up, shouted and tried to free myself from the mouth of the hungry lion. But no, it was my father who had found me beside the path.
But how did my father come to be there? He told me, “I heard that lions are in our area. Last night, they killed two cows in a nearby village.” Because he knew I would be coming home from school that day for a holiday, he had taken his old bicycle and a large knife, and come to meet me.
“Follow me back home,” he said. The two of us walked together, passing the place where I had met with the lion. My footprints and those of the lion were there in the grass. I know that it was Jesus who had saved me from the powerful lion.
* You can find these words in New Testament part of the Bible (also called the Injil), in book of John, chapter 14 verse 13. Read it online: tinyurl.com/john14-13