During my junior year of college, I felt God nudging me to get out of my comfort zone and take a missions trip to Africa. So, in June of 2012, I set out for a six-week trip to Zimbabwe on a short-term trip to serve in the Hands of Hope Orphanage as well as teach preschool at the school for street children in downtown Harare. I prayed for God to be with me and show me His power, and He answered my prayers in a mighty way!
On the day after my arrival into Zimbabwe, the missionaries took me and some other short-term workers camping at Mana Pools National Park, located along the Zambezi River in the bush. The park was filled with amazing wildlife, and although our tents were set up just a few feet from elephants, hippos, and much more, we were completely safe. However, on our third night, we woke to the sound of lions throwing our camping chairs and banging our pots and pans on the ground. One of the screens on our tent was open, and I wanted to see the lions up close. I tried to move quietly, but it turns out I was in the world’s LOUDEST sleeping bag – one that was impossible to not make a racket with. I finally got out and went over to the screen to watch the lion pride creep slowly through the camp. We stayed completely silent as some of the lions came close enough that we could hear them breathing. For some reason, I felt the Holy Spirit put a sentence on my mind: “cover your head and get in the middle of the tent.”
At risk of being the paranoid American huddling in the middle of the tent, I didn’t listen at first. As a lion began to chew on the tent rods, I decided to go back to my sleeping bag. Then the lions moved toward my part of the tent and began shaking the nylon. Clear as day, I kept hearing the sentence “cover your head and get in the middle.” This time, I listened and moved to the other side of the tent. Within seconds, we heard a lion ripping the tent. As we huddled together, all we could do was pray. I’ve never felt someone shaking so hard as the girl behind me, who was praying out loud that God was stronger than anything and asking Him to protect us. Within a few moments, one of the missionaries boldly stepped out of his tent and yelled. The lions turned around and walked away.
The next morning, as we got a good look at the tent, we saw that the lion had ripped a hole inches from where my head would’ve been on my pillow. God’s power became clear to me in that moment when I realized how he had protected us while we were praying. The power of prayer also became evident when I told my mom what had happened. My parents were leading a Bible study group at home that day, and they had been specifically praying for my protection during that time. God answered my mom’s prayer as the Lion of Judah protected me from the African lions just outside my tent!
Now I can say that God answers prayer, maybe not always right away, and maybe without us realizing it, but He does answer. I know that I need to make prayer my first choice, even when I am afraid or in a difficult situation. Everyday, I acknowledge the Holy Spirit in the morning and invite Him to go before me, so I’ll be more in tune to what He wants me to do that day. And I praise God for His protection over me, whether I’m out in the wilds of Africa or simply in a wild place in my life.
-Written by Hannah M. Wegman, TEAMServe missionary to Zimbabwe
-Photography by Hannah M. Wegman