The Curious Incident of the Dog by the Riverside

Moussa* was discouraged. How could he provide for his family and continue to live in this pagan area where he and his family were not welcome and the gospel not accepted? One evening he went down to the river bank to pray. He begged God to enable him to kill a wild animal so that he could at least provide some meat for his family. God instantly answered his prayer – there was a rustling in the bush, an antelope perhaps, certainly something that would provide much needed food. He raised his spear and with practised hand sent it hurtling towards the target. The thud and yelp told him that he had hit and he went around the bush to examine his kill. Imagine his horror when he discovered that his spear had transfixed a dog. But not just any dog – this was the chief’s prized hunting dog!

Moussa felt sick to his stomach and knew that if he was caught his very life might be in jeopardy. The only solution was to quickly retrieve his spear, wash off the blood in the river and throw the dead animal into the swift-flowing current of the river. He could remove all incriminating evidence. As he prepared to do this, he felt deeply convicted. Was this the way a follower of the Lord Jesus should behave? What if he owned up to his mistake to the chief? The consequences were too awful to contemplate! He would surely be fined, severely beaten and driven out of the village for ever. His last few coins in his pocket were all the money they owned; the image of a lacerated back flashed through his mind; the shame and anguish to his family. But as he continued to reflect on the right course of action, he knew exactly what God wanted him to do. He withdrew the spear and picked up the dead dog and walked purposefully towards the village.

As he entered the chief’s compound, he found that the chief was assembled with his elders, every eye turned towards him. He placed the dog at the foot of the chief and took off his shirt.

“As he continued to reflect on the right course of action, he knew exactly what God wanted him to do.”

“Chief,” he explained, “I went to hunt to provide food for my family. By accident I have killed your favourite hunting dog. I have no money to repay you except these remaining coins in my pocket. Please forgive me for what I have done, but if you are to punish me, my back is ready for the beating I deserve…”

The chief was stunned and deeply moved. Would any of his own people confess to him if they had done such a thing? He slowly stood to his feet; every elder was focused on what he would now say in judgement.

“Moussa,” he said, “I have never met a man like you. There is no one who is honest in this way among my people. I now want you to know that you are welcome to live among my people and to bring them the words of God.” Turning to the elders of the tribe, he continued, “We must listen to this man. We will provide for him and receive the message he is bringing.”

* Names have been changed to protect privacy.