The Story of “AFRICAN MOONS”Posted on April 7th, 2020.
“God’s people have no assurances that the dark experiences of life will be held at bay, much less that God will provide some sort of running commentary on the meaning of each day’s allotment of confusion, boredom, pain, or achievement. It is no great matter where we are, provided we see that the Lord has placed us there, and that He is with us.” John Newton
THE MOON AND THE PROMISE – Sally Bruton Vann
The relentless heat of the sub-Sahara eased and the quiet peace of the evening shrouded our mud house. Mother kissed me and tightly tucked the mosquito net underneath my mattress. The familiar sound of the old owl hooting from the palm tree outside the front door mesmerized me as I lay in bed. I yawned and drifted into my five-year-old world of dreams.
But this peaceful scene defied the anguish and turmoil raging in Mother’s heart. Dad was already off to remote villages preaching the Gospel. Mom, alone, looked out the bedroom window contemplating her destiny. How was she going to survive living in primitive Africa for the next three years? The separation and isolation from friends and the busyness of pastoring a congregation of loving people in California caused a suffocating loneliness.
Helen Grant Bruton grew up in a small farming town in Minnesota. Shortly before graduating high school, she stood at the window of her childhood home. The light of the moon glimmered on the snow making a magical theatre of dancing shadows on that cold winter night. “Lord, I choose to follow your plans. Show me what to do and I’ll go where you tell me to go.” That night she made a consecrated decision that would lead her through a life journey of unexpected adventure and constant crossroads.
Sixteen years had passed from that night in Minnesota. This time Mother again looked at the moon from another window, seven thousand miles from Sherburn, Minnesota. A recent suburban housewife from California with the comforts and conveniences of modern America, she now faced the clashing reality of living in a strange country surrounded by people she could not understand and a culture strange and foreign.
The stillness of the night became alive with the shadowy images below her bedroom window. The bright, full moon began to surface over the horizon. Her thoughts brought a depth of despair laced with loneliness that her fragile heart could hardly bear. This adventure wasn’t happening to someone else. How was her new life going to affect her first-born fourteen-year-old son, Paul Jr. and Sally, her five-year-old daughter? And then, she thought of the baby she was carrying.
The adventure of crossing the Atlantic on a Post WWII Liberty ship that delivered cargo to ports-of-call in South America and the West Coast of Africa, had already taken her family 70 miles up the Amazon and 60 miles up the African Congo River. Nine weeks after leaving New Orleans, the Del Campo finally docked at the port of Lagos, Nigeria, her family’s destination.
She was risking everything to honor God and allow Him to take first place in her life. This was not an adventure in a book. This was now her life. How was she going to adjust to life in this strange and difficult land?
The moon was high when she asked, “Where am I going to get my inspiration, Lord?” Moments slipped like sand through a hourglass. Somewhere a “still small voice” whispered, “I AM YOUR INSPIRATION.” A presence crept into her heart and invaded her whole being. The bedroom was filled with a delicate sweetness and her tears rinsed her anguished heart. Peace, like warm oil, salved her pain. Once again, she offered a surrendered heart to her Lord. The exhausting wrestling to win the “battle of will” dissipated like a thick fog when the morning sun rises announcing a new day.
That long night in Rahama, watching the full moon until she surrendered her will to her Father, became her life’s altar. It was early morning when the moon faded over the horizon. She laid her head on her pillow and whispered her prayer – “Thirty-six moons to go”.
Helen Bruton and her husband Paul lived almost 30 years in Africa.