It’s early evening on Wednesday, 26th November 2008.
I have just tucked the little ones in, and settled into our family room, to watch a bit of TV as I wait for hubby to come home. One of my favorite evangelists, Angus Buchan, is on air, enthusiastically delivering a message from Scripture. I really like this man, a rugged South African preacher, known for his mega conferences and his constant refrain – “Husbands, love your wives..!” My kind of preaching 🙂 .
I follow along as the evangelist shares his sermon, shot at his large farm somewhere in the heartland of SA. Today, he is talking about unbelief.
“The greatest sin is unbelief,” he says. I agree.
Buchan’s show ends and the two-hour “Praise the Lord” program comes on, another of my favorites. But I’m not feeling too well today, so as soon as it ends, I give up waiting for the hubby and head to bed. I’m not quite able to settle down to sleep however, so at around midnight, I get up, drink a glass of water and go back to bed.
But this time when I sleep, I have a most unusual dream.
In this dream, I’m seated in what appears to be a class or conference room, facing forward, a number of other people with me. Standing in front of us is a man. I can see his features clearly and I note his unmistakable height and unique complexion. He is facing the class, his right hand pointing to a white flip-board on his right. Standing slightly behind him is another man. He is formally dressed, is much shorter, and appears to be his assistant.
As I gaze at the man, I hear a quiet but distinctive word in my spirit – this man is a prophet, and will soon visit your country. I also receive a hint of his name – three short letters that spell out the diminutive version of his first name. The Lord does not tell me what his second name is. However, He does give me another sliver of info: that when I see this man, I am to take whatever he will say with caution, as not all of it will be true.
The dream ends.
I wake up extremely puzzled as to why the Lord would give me such a dream. I just recently gave my life to Christ – barely eight weeks ago actually – and to me, the thought of meeting a prophet is beyond the realm of possibility. For sure, my new circle of born-again friends and relations does not extend to such prominent servants of God. Also, the thought that a prophet might not say the truth one hundred percent of the time leaves me totally bewildered.
But later, when I get out of bed, I dutifully take out my journal and note down the date, the dream as I saw it, the word of caution I received, as well as the name of the prophet. Though I have no clue what on earth to do with this information, I know that the Lord did not give it to me in vain.
The very next day, as I prepare to meet with some friends, I remember that among them will be a pastor, a delightful woman of God who has been ministering to us for some time.
So before I leave, I go back to my journal, re-read the dream, write the name of the prophet on a small piece of paper, fold it and put it in my wallet. Surely the good pastor will know what to do with this! She’s a demon-busting, tongue-speaking, spirit-filled preacher who is quite familiar with the supernatural, so I know that none of this will be of surprise. And so later, as soon as the opportunity arises, I corner my pastor friend, share the details of the dream and press the little piece of paper into her hand.
“Here’s the prophet’s name,” I inform her. “If he ever comes to Kenya, please remember to treat whatever he says with caution.”
She takes the paper and notes what I have written before tucking it into her handbag, and I know that she will take time to pray and seek the Lord, if anything happens concerning this matter.
And with that – I believe – my work is done.
The end of the year arrives, and a new year, 2009, rolls in; and the dream completely fades from memory, as dreams are wont to do.
But soon enough, Ruth, a friend of mine, calls with some rather intriguing news.
A great man of God has arrived from abroad, she tells me. He has been here several times before and is well known for his highly accurate prophetic words. He’s holding services at a hotel in Nairobi’s CBD, she continues, and she would really like to attend one of them.
“Si you take me?” she says.
I know Ruth to be prophetically gifted herself, and I can tell that she holds this man in very high esteem. She would like to meet and possibly even get to learn from him, I suspect, as he is a senior and much more experienced prophet. So I agree.
I make a mental note of his name, even though it means nothing to me at this point.
On the appointed day, we find our separate ways to the hotel, meet at the lobby and proceed to the meeting room together. We find it jam-packed with fellow Believers eager to hear what the prophet has to say. His previous prophecies turned out to be pinpoint accurate, we are informed, hence the intense anticipation in the room. Over and over, we hear of events he spoke of previously which came to pass exactly as he had prophesied. The man is clearly a very gifted prophet.
We find a suitable place to sit, and position ourselves in a manner that will enable us track him down as soon as the service ends.
After a lengthy wait, the man of God arrives and a wave of excitement rips through the room. My eyes follow him curiously, as he coolly acknowledges the crowd and makes his way to the front. He seems somewhat detached, disinterested even, the crowd evidently a lot more excited than he is. He is a tall, thick-set man I note, with a fairly distinctive complexion.
I follow the service closely, but for some reason, I can’t seem to work up the same level of enthusiasm as my fellow Believers. Something seems to be stirring in my spirit, and though I have long since forgotten the dream, I’m filled with a certain, stubborn unease.
Immediately after the service, we leave the room and find our way to the lobby, where several faithful are milling around, hoping for a chance to engage the man of God. Ruth too, would like to speak to him – she’s hoping to invite him to minister at a church in a nearby slum. We make our way through the crowd and finally get to him. He’s clearly tired after more than an hour of energy-sapping ministry, his face strained, forehead glistening with sweat.
Ruth quickly introduces herself, and when the man of God stretches out his hand in greeting, she clasps her right hand with her left, and respectfully shakes his hand with both of hers, while humbly dropping a deep curtsy. I’ve watched her give this greeting several times, an endearing practice drawn from her part-Tanzanian heritage, so this is no surprise to me. But an oddly inappropriate smile on the man’s face catches my eye.
My friend thanks the man of God for his message and after some polite chit-chat, requests if he might take some time to minister at the slum. He listens quietly, nods his head and promises to look into it. We leave a few minutes later – Ruth clearly excited at the prospect of hosting him at the church, and me – well – me am still somewhat underwhelmed.
We go our separate ways, but a few days later, Ruth gives me a call. From the sound of her voice, I know that something is wrong.
“Mugzy, I’m a bit confused about the man of God,” she begins. And when I ask why, she gives me a distressing piece of news. As agreed, she called and spoke to him again about the slum, she says, but he seemed very reluctant to go. Instead, he asked repeatedly about the state of the church’s finances, as if to gauge their potential ability to compensate his time.
Ruth sounds heartbroken. She has a decidedly soft spot for the poor and I know she had hoped that his visit would be of great encouragement to the extremely poor congregation. And as she continues to describe the conversation to me, the coin finally drops.
This is the man I saw in the dream!
I immediately recall how he looked and the name I received, and both match the prophet precisely. Stunned, I stop her in her tracks.
“I have something to tell you,” I say, and proceed to share the dream in detail. Being a more mature Believer than I am, Ruth immediately comprehends what is going on. This is a not-so-unusual case of a highly anointed minister, whose character unfortunately bears some disturbing cracks.
“I get it,” she says.
We agree to drop the church visit idea and move on. But we are soon in for an even bigger surprise when alarming murmurs begin to circulate – quietly-whispered allegations of moral and financial impropriety on the part of the prophet.
In the midst of all this, Kathy, another good friend, invites me to her home to share my journey of faith with a group of new Believers. Even though I’m a relatively new Believer myself, I accept the invitation and begin to prepare a simple message on worship, something I find wonderfully enriching and can easily talk about. The fellowship is to be on a Friday evening, and Kathy expects to have about fifteen guests in her home.
By now, the prophet’s presence in the country and the circulating rumors have caused quite a stir, and almost everyone I know seems to have heard a story or two. And as the date of the fellowship approaches, I find myself debating whether or not to share the dream I received. I think about it all week – something keeps telling me not to, but I keep telling myself that I should.
Finally, the day arrives and I get to my friend’s house still not sure whether to share my story or not. But when I finish my talk, I decide to go ahead and share it. The group is all ears, keenly taking in what I have to say, but I soon begin to ask myself what I have done when the discussion rapidly degenerates into even more allegations about the prophet.
I leave the meeting carrying a nagging feeling of wrong-doing, and I have a deep sense that I should have left my thoughts unsaid.
As soon as I get home, I sense the Holy Spirit summoning me firmly into His presence, and I know I have a case to answer. I spend a few minutes with my family, but as soon as I’m able to, I find a quiet corner, say a prayer and listen.
And He begins.
When an army is at war, He says, the most experienced, battle-trained generals take charge, with their troops faithfully following their lead. The enemy, however, is keenly aware that if they manage to destroy the generals, the troops will be left rudderless and disorganized – a much easier prey. The generals, therefore, are a prime target of the enemy.
So when a general is struck by the enemy, this is not the time to castigate him for falling under the fire. It is not the time to pick up stones and join the enemy in finishing him off. No. This is the time to cover him with the appropriate weapons of war, whisk him off the battlefield and ensure that he is back to health as quickly as possible, so that he may return to the battlefront and lead the troops to victory.
“Your spiritual leaders,” He says, “are My generals.”
But even though I sense clearly the Holy Spirit’s disapproval – even anger – at my actions, I am truly shocked when I hear His next words.
For the next three days, He instructs, I am to go on a strict fast. I am to take only one meal a day and this will be after 6 o’clock every evening. During the day, I will be allowed a certain measure of water – half a glass to be precise. And it is to be taken only at lunch time.
I’m in shock. In my walk with the Lord, I have never thought, even for one moment, that it is possible for Him to do something like this. But I accept my lot and begin my fast early the next morning.
I spend the entire weekend fasting, praying and reflecting deeply on what the Lord said to me. It is not too difficult to maintain the fast, even though I have never gone twelve hours on just a small amount of water. But when Monday comes and I report to a busy desk at work, I find it impossible to stay in a posture of prayer, and by lunch time, I’m almost weak with hunger. The lady in charge of our kitchen is nowhere in sight, so I ask one of my staff to please bring me a glass of water. But I’m so hungry, I intentionally omit to mention the amount that the Lord specified for me.
But when she returns a few minutes later and hands me the glass, I stare at it in disbelief – the young lady has somehow managed to find the smallest glass in the office, one which I have never even seen before. And though it is filled to the brim, it holds the exact amount that I am supposed to drink. Half a glass of water.
Months later, the prophet is arrested and detained on various unsavory charges, and the ensuing drama plays out in the news, media outlets eagerly reporting his case. And for the next year or so, even as his prophetic words reverberate across the nation, the man of God desperately battles the consequences of his alleged lapses in character.
But this time, as the events unfold, I remember the Lord’s instruction concerning His generals, and it is abundantly clear to me what I must – and must not – do.
But David said to Abishai, “Do not destroy him, for who can stretch out his hand against the Lord’s anointed and be without guilt?”
1 Samuel 26:9
*The names used in this article have been changed.