The present in the light of the past, and filtered through
prophetic passages from the King James Bible

Steve Van Nattan


By Steve Van Nattan

Today, big named men are exalted and touted as "great" in the Sword of the Lord and at pastor's camp meetings.

They pulled the numbers and built the monster Sunday Schools.

Your small place of service grows smaller and smaller in your eyes as you watch the show on the platform and hear the flattery and damnable exaltation of man.

Here is a story for you fellows in the small places, and I think it will bless some Moms who are home schooling instead of building a career.


From the book, Trumpet Notes in Congo
by Austin Paul. 1949

Austin Paul taught many African men to play brass instruments when everyone thought it was impossible. These men started their own brass bands and went all over Congo and East Africa playing in local churches. He never aspired to climb and lead. He did what he did well for many faithful years. He speaks here with authority. I was a kid when I met him and saw him in a missionary guest home for several days. He was an exceptional optimist and the friend of zealous men.

Chapter 8, page 70-75


The Unyielded Gun

Out in the heart of Africa, in addition to our preaching, we find some side-line activites which must be carried on. Gardens have to be planted, houses have to be built, bricks have to be laid, planks have to be sawed, and there are other things to do. Sometimes there is a chance for some real sport, for big-game hunting.

For instance, the outdistrict Christians come to Aungba every four months for a Bible conference. There may be twelve hundred of them, or even two thousand, to be entertained on the mission station for a few days. What a crowd that is to feed! Usually they bring their own bananas, their own millet, and their fufu, as they call it, the meal from which they make their bread. But they appreciate having meat provided. Now that is a large order, so the missionary and some of the Christians take to the bush to track down the meat a day or two before the guests arrive. On one of these hunting expeditions a lesson was impressed upon me in such a way that I doubt I can forget it.

It was just before Christmas. A conference was to be held over the holiday. We had no meat. What should we do about it? I had been using a lovely little .32 caliber Winchester rifle. It was sweet and true, but anyone who knows about hunting knows that it is not good life insurance to tackle elephant or buffalo with a .32 special. Besides, I was out of good ammunition. I have five children and a wife that I do care about, and I thought of them. Yet the conference was upon us, and we had to get meat. We prayed about our need. Then I began to prepare some makeshift ammunition. It was not the best kind, but it would do.

Just then it was necessary for me to visit a Belgian mines' farm about eighteen miles away. Monsieur the manager came out to greet me.

"Ah, bon jour, Monsieur Paul," he greeted. He was in a happy mood and delighted to see me, although I was merely paying my butter bill.

"Ah, Monsieur," he continued, "I am told you are a mechanic. Would you please take my gun for me and fix it all in good condition? It is a magnificent gun - magnifique, Monsieur! It is a 10.75 mm. Mauser."

A 10.75 mm. Mauser! That is the kind that knocks the big fellows down and then jumps on them. It is a real he-man gun, and the brutes stay dead when they are killed with that. What was Monsieur the manager saying now?

"If you will make repairs on this gun, you may take it when you go out on your chasse for the big feast. You will get plenty of meat. I will give you many cartouches. Here."

He picked up about thirty cartridges and stuffed them into my pockets. Then he explained, "The only trouble with that gun - it is a beautiful gun, be-oo-ti-ful, Monsieur Paul - only sometimes it - ah - goes off when you don't pull the trigger."

Oh! So that was the kind of a gun I was being offered - a hair-trigger sort of thing. Did you ever meet Christians like that? They shoot off all over the place whether or not the Spirit of God directs them. But I took the gun home and said, "Lord, thank You for answering my prayer. I'll fix that thing."

Before I went to Africa, I was a toolmaker, so I took the gun apart. Late into the night I worked on it with oilstones and files. I cleaned it all up and thought I had found the trouble. Every time I would open a bolt, click, it would go. I would open the bolt - and click, again. There, we were all set for the hunt. During the night I called Alipai, our kapita, or headman.

"Alipai, we're going off at daybreak," I told him. "We're going to get a buffalo or elephant aplenty. God has given us a gun and thirty cartridges. Now then, we're going out for meat."

Early in the morning we committed our day to the Lord and were off. The gun was ready. The cartridges were in my pocket. We took along two or three other native men with spears. Nothing was lacking. But, just before we left the house, I thought of the .32 special, so I took in along with the four homemade bullets.

"Perhaps we'd better take this along," I reasoned. "We might see a little antelope. We might need it."

Before dawn we were out by the water hole where the animals come down to drink. We had reached the edge of an escarpment where we could look down upon it. There, directly below us and not more than a hundred and fifty yards away was a herd of about fifty buffalo. They were snorting around and having a grand time, utterly unaware of our presence. All of us were tense with expectation.

"Look, Bwana!" Alipai whispered hoarsely, "God has given us the meat already. He's brought us right to all these buffalo."

All right, we were ready for them. I stopped to put aside some of the things I was carrying, grabbed the big gun, and inserted one cartridge in the barrel and others in the magazine.

"Let's not shoot from here," I said. "Let's get down closer where we can be absolutely sure of them."

Leaving the spearmen at the top of the escarpment, the kapita and I headed down through the tall grass alone to sneak up on our quarry. Alipai was in the lead, on tiptoe. I was following with the big gun, when all of a sudden - whoo-oo-oom! It went off right in my hand without the trigger even being touched. The bullet just missed Alipai's head! I felt pale inside, just sick at soul. Oh, how I thank God that the bullet did not hit him!

Not only were we barely saved from a serious accident, but it was all up with that herd of fifty buffalo. Whoo-oo-oop! They were gone and there was no chance of getting them again.

I have met some dear children of God who are like that gun. "Here are my plans, Lord, bless them," they pray, but they have never yielded to the blessed finger of God. They shoot on their own initiative and bring down trouble instead of blessing. Do you know what I did with that old gun? I pointed the muzzle to the ground, took every cartridge out of the magazine, and handed it over to one of the other fellows, who had rushed over to us when they heard the shot.

"There," I said, "don't let me ever see that gun again."

The big gun was a castaway. Paul was afraid of being a castaway...He told the Corinthian saints of his determination constantly to subject himself to God lest he become such an one. No more of that self-shooting gun for me! I took my little .32, and all day long we waded through the tall grass.

It was four hours before we came upon another herd of buffalo, only ten this time. It was not a big gun that we had for them. It was just a little bit of a thing, and each cartridge had to be put in separately because the bullets were homemade, but the first thing we knew we were up on that herd of buffalo. There was one big fellow over there, right at attention. It was a long shot, yet we dared not get closer.

"Lord, please help us," we prayed. The little gun went up.

"Bing!" it barked.

"O-o-o-ooh-aah!" it was the death-bawl of the buffalo.

Snatching a screw driver from my pocket, I pried out the used cartridge and shot again.


"O-o-o-ooh-aah!" the second one was down.

We got a third one after that. We had brought in the meat, not for ourselves, but for the hungry multitude that was coming for the Christmas conference. Yet it was not the big gun that brought it in. It was the little gun, yielded to the finger, obedient to shoot as directed.

The incident got me to thinking. All over the world is a hungry multitude waiting to be fed. God has chosen every one of His children to bring them meat. What He wants today is not the high-pressure, high-tension Christian with a lot of brains and bright ideas. Thank God, He wants every bit of the brain power we have, but more than that, He wants men and women who are yielded to His Spirit, so yielded, when the Spirit of God says to pray, we are obedient to pray. When the Spirit of God says to give, we are obedient to give. When the Spirit of God says, "Speak to that person," we are obedient to speak. God does not always use the great things. He condescends to men of low estate. But He uses those who are responsive to His dear control.

1 Corinthians 4:1 Let a man so account of us, as of the ministers of Christ, and stewards of the mysteries of God. 2 Moreover it is required in stewards, that a man be found faithful.

Proverbs 20:6 Most men will proclaim every one his own goodness: but a faithful man who can find?

Psalms 101:6 Mine eyes shall be upon the faithful of the land, that they may dwell with me: he that walketh in a perfect way, he shall serve me.

Matthew 25:21 His lord said unto him, Well done, thou good and faithful servant: thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord.

Revelation 2:13 I know thy works, and where thou dwellest, even where Satan's seat is: and thou holdest fast my name, and hast not denied my faith, even in those days wherein Antipas was my faithful martyr, who was slain among you, where Satan dwelleth.