In The Shadow Of Shaddai…

When I went to varsity, I was still skinny so, of course, a new set of voices couldn’t help but point it out to me in the same old insensitive mean way. I remember one day, a lecturer mid-lecturing, stopped to stare at me and my sister and ask such an immature demonically-inspired question in front of approximately 45 or so classmates: “…you girls, are you sure this is not anorexia? How can you be this skinny, this is not normal at all, do you even eat…?” to which I could not even think up a response.

Countless people had a new thing to say every other day about how skinny we apparently were. It was an occasional occurrence to have random strangers and acquaintances stop you in your tracks and give you unsolicited insults disguised as advice, like “uhhmm, you are so skinny. At least it shows that it is not because you are sick, but uhm, it’s too much, have you tried potatoes? ” as we would just awkwardly smile back.

One day though, we had a different comment on our bodies. On this day in question, a bubbly girl walked up to us to compliment how slender we were. She proceeded to exaggeratedly compliment how we looked like models. Of course, she had an agenda. She was planning a modelling contest and was looking for contestants which is why she was flattering us into agreeing to be some of them.

Unlike most other students who used to entertain themselves by watching movies after lectures on their laptops, both of us didn’t have a laptop. That means we were relatively more bored than the average student when we didn’t have lectures, assignments or exams. In fact, we used to entertain ourselves by playing dress up and taking pictures. We were pretty much joined at the hip with my sister as we were studying the same degree, staying in the same house, and eating at the same places at the same time and other similar stuff. So, as much as we had never tried modelling before, it sounded like a pretty fun thing to do as an adventure together so we agreed to participate. And so it began!

Upon agreeing, we started the practice sessions and we were having fun! We were not taking it that seriously or anticipating to win either. It was just a spur of the moment ‘why not’ decision. We borrowed around some of the clothes needed as we didn’t have ‘safari’ or ‘evening wear’ clothes. Surprisingly, people were excited by the idea and were keen to lend us their stuff.

It was going to be the first ever pageantry at this campus. The day came, we contested and we both won some of the titles there. There were 5 titles to contest for, Miss Mashava (Mashava being the name of our campus), 1st Princess, 2nd Princess, Miss Personality (which I ended up winning) and Miss Culture (which my sister ended up winning). Just after the pageantry, the organizers immediately escorted us to our rooms to ensure no harm befell us that day. We had so much fun and to us, it really was just innocent fun that we would wake up the next day and forget about and carry on with our lives.

Contrary to our belief, that was not going to be the case. There was a video and magazine made about this pageantry and that meant for the next four years of varsity, we would bump into random people who would excitedly mention that they had seen us in some video out there. I had no intention of watching that video myself as I just cringed at the thought of a video of myself being out there. It was probably only after a year or so later that I gathered the courage to look for the video and watch it. It was hilarious, if anything, to see how everyone involved had visibly grown in one way or the other and how amateur we all were at this pageantry thing.

Another misconception I had was that this pageantry would be an annual occurrence, so I thought the following year, and all the successive ones, other ‘models’ would take over this weird pageantry popularity I had found myself unintentionally in. That, however, was not the case. That pageantry was never hosted ever again!

It was in my 4th & last year in varsity that I somehow went to get my hair plaited by another student that I had barely interacted with before. To my surprise, she casually accused me of having costed her prime money four years ago. Confused, I asked how that was the case and she revealed to me some information that shook me to the core. According to her, the day after that pageantry, a government minister had sneakily come looking for ‘any of the girls who won last night’ and that he would pay anyone handsomely who brought them to him. According to this girl, this minister spoke to a guy student who then recruited this girl and her friend to look for one of the girls for him. Even more chilling, this sent crew decisively agreed to specifically bring me and my sister to him.

According to her, their logic was that since we were inseparable, they were likely to then get a double payment for bringing us both to him. Ah!!What did he want to do with this girl he was looking for?’, I asked. ‘Well, we didn’t care, we just wanted the money he had promised, so whether he raped or kidnapped you, or murdered you, we really didn’t care‘. Wow!He just said he wanted to congratulate her, but we knew there was more to it than that, but frankly, we didn’t care, we cared more about the promised money to be honest‘ . ‘What stopped you from bringing us to him then since you had already decided to surrender us to this vulture‘, I inquired. ‘Well, we looked everywhere, every time, and you were nowhere to be found! We continually searched for you, all three of us, but we never bumped into any of you. We even asked others to show us where you stayed, but apparently no one knew where you lived

I couldn’t believe this girl. How nonchalant she was in telling me such a grave story. I was so shocked, I even got chills on my body!

Now, let me tell you, in the natural, that does not make sense at all. To note is that our campus was relatively remote and semi-rural and very small. It was situated where there used to be a mine so the previous ecosystem in that place had been set up to support mining activities and nothing else. It was close to impossible for anyone to look for a person and not find them there, as long as they were actually there. It was a campus so small that the possibility of bumping into one person thrice a day was high and if anyone was desperately looking for you, they would definitely find you. This supposed minister had given them a week to bring this girl to him and for that entire week, they could not find us!

I got goosebumps listening to this girl’s confession. I had no idea how much I had endangered my life by one seemingly innocent decision. If you know anything at all about African politicians, you know that a great deal of them are used to having their way at all times at whatever cost. They are also mostly used to ‘getting away with murder’. In short, I was in the highest level of danger that could be imagined. Not even going to the police or court would help me if I was to end up in the hands of this supposed minister and something went wrong.

Oh, how spiritual life truly is! I did mention previously how I was the first in my family to pursue a university degree. What are the odds that, in the very first semester, a pageantry that has never ever been held before would suddenly be held and never be held again? What are the odds that of all the people who could be asked to participate, I would end up as one of them? What are the odds that this small event in some small campus in the middle of nowhere would attract a wicked government official with God-knows-what sinister motive? What are also the odds that of all the 5 girls, the people tasked to find a girl would unanimously decide to find me specifically in order to surrender me to him?

Psalm 124:1-8 If the Lord had not been on our side— let Israel say—if the Lord had not been on our side when people attacked us,they would have swallowed us alive when their anger flared against us; the flood would have engulfed us,
 the torrent would have swept over us, the raging waters would have swept us away. Praise be to the Lord,
 who has not let us be torn by their teeth. We have escaped like a bird from the fowler’s snare; the snare has been broken,
 and we have escaped. Our help is in the name of the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth.

Anytime you embark on breaking a generational limit, or any type of limitation at all, you better be prepared to fight some wicked forces. Wicked forces that are willing to even create events or policies out of the blue in a bid to trap you. We see this when Jesus was born, a new policy was put in place to murder every son within his age range. Many young sons were murdered by Herod yet he just really wanted to murder one baby. Even Moses’ birth brought a change in policy just at his time of birth that resulted in many deaths of babies when in reality only Moses was really the target. As pompous as it may sound, I am completely convinced that this pageantry was created with the motive to trap me and leave me exposed and vulnerable to wicked men. Thank God, I actually could not be accessed by them. We really wrestle against principalities and powers and forces of wickedness and rulers of darkness that we are no match to fight is the Lord is not on our side. May God give us the grace to watch and pray that we will not be outwitted by the enemy’s traps. Be watchful whenever new things that involve you are introduced, especially if they seem too sudden.

I would be lying if I said I escaped this deadly snare because I was very watchful. Far from it. It really was just God’s mercy that preserved me from that calamity. What are the odds that three people would look everywhere on campus for me and not come across me for an entire week! It was God’s mercy, love and sovereignty!

What I remember though is that around the same time, our older sister was trying to get us to grow spiritually. One of the things she encouraged us to do was memorize Psalm 91 and declare it over ourselves as often as possible. In as much as we didn’t do it as often as possible, we occasionally did declare it over ourselves. Thank God because it is a probability that we were preserved by that declaration of protection by the Lord which possibly gave us immunity from the devil’s arrows.

Psalm 91 Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.[a] 2 I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.”3 Surely he will save you from the fowler’s snare and from the deadly pestilence.
4 He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart.
5 You will not fear the terror of night, nor the arrow that flies by day, 6 nor the pestilence that stalks in the darkness, nor the plague that destroys at midday. 7 A thousand may fall at your side, ten thousand at your right hand, but it will not come near you. 8 You will only observe with your eyes and see the punishment of the wicked. 9 If you say, “The Lord is my refuge,” and you make the Most High your dwelling, 10 no harm will overtake you, no disaster will come near your tent. 11 For he will command his angels concerning you
to guard you in all your ways; 12 they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone. 13 You will tread on the lion and the cobra; you will trample the great lion and the serpent. 14 “Because he[b] loves me,” says the Lord, “I will rescue him;
I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name. 15 He will call on me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble, I will deliver him and honor him. 16 With long life I will satisfy him and show him my salvation.”

What a powerful promise of God’s preservation!

Whenever I remember this story, I get a new awe and wonder, and reverent fear of the Lord. I am so grateful to him for hiding me from the eyes of wicked men. Even when the enemy intended to harm me, God hid me in the shadow of his wings. This is the beauty of experiencing Gods mercy, there are depths to his love that sometimes you are not even aware of. I was not restricted in my movement on campus, yet God made me and my sister invisible in plain sight. Nothing can convince me God doesn’t exist, I have seen His hand over my life in ways that no one can discredit or dispute.

As I wrap up, I would like to encourage you with this story to see that there are arrows that fly by day and pestilence that stalks in darkness each day that is targeted at us and that it is only by God’s grace that we can escape them. May you receive the grace to make sound decisions every time, even in things that seem insignificant because you may never truly know the implications of each decision.

Let us pray.

Heavenly Father, we come before you this evening and ask you to train us to dwell in your secret place. Teach us to dwell, and not visit your presence. May you grant us discernment and wisdom to know what to do/not do and when to do it/not do it. May you furnish us with spiritual alertness to avoid certain decisions, places or situations. Even when we make foolish decisions, may your mercy preserve our lives. Train us to be like the sons of Issachar who understood times and seasons and knew what to do every time. May we have the hunger and thirst to stay in the shadow of your wings that no foe can withstand! In Jesus’ name. Amen!

Delsha Rufaro Lydia
Delsha Rufaro Lydia
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Makanakamwari Mangava

What a powerful testimony. Thank you so much for sharing sis. Indeed if the Lord wasn’t on our side, the enemy would have swallowed us.


This is excellent and very profound!

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