- Our big God adventure: Episode 1 — God saves us and delivers me from racism
- Our big God adventure: Episode 2 — God sends three angels
- Our big God adventure: Episode 3 — A ‘scary’ woman takes off her shoes
- Our big God adventure: Episode 4 — Countdown to Kenya
- Our big God adventure: Episode 5 – Finally setting out for Kenya
- Our big God adventure: Episode 6 – Water from Heaven
- Our big God adventure: Episode 7 – Reaching the unreached
- Our big God adventure: Episode 8 – A ministry and a child are born
- Our big God adventure: Episode 9 – How our small playgroup became one of the largest ACE schools in Kenya
- Our big God adventure: Episode 10 –Election violence, cookies and a poem
- Our big God adventure: Episode 11 — How God used an attack on our lives to soften hearts
- Our Big God Adventure: Episode 12 — From the deep hole of depression to the ‘one set of footprints’
- Our big God Adventure: episode 13 – The blessing of the boy under the bush
- Our big God adventure: episode 14 — Six homeless boys bring Isaiah 58:7 to life!
- Our big God adventure: episode 15 – God rescues a little Samburu girl from certain death
- Our big God adventure: episode 16 – “… and you will dream dreams and see visions (part 1)
- Our big God adventure: episode 17 – “… and you will dream dreams and see visions (part 2)
- Our big God adventure: episode 18 — God ‘interrupts’ our lives to plant school in remote village
- Our big God adventure: episode 19 — Two cakes, a dog and a birthday party
- Our big God adventure: episode 20 — Another story of Butch, our loyal protector — and beloved rascal
- Our big God adventure: episode 21 — A stolen car and God’s miraculous intervention
Missionary in Kenya Lydia Venter shares more memorable dog tales
Animals have always been a huge part of our lives. In a country where our main task is to make disciples of Jesus in a culture that is so different from ours, we’ve always found it such a happy place to be surrounded by animals. Anatole France writes: “Until one has loved an animal, a part of one’s soul remains unawakened.”
In the previous episode I shared about our dog, Butch, stealing a birthday cake from our living room. We got this sweet, naughty boy from a German friend, called Freddie. Butch was a cross between a Ridgeback and a Saint Bernard, but his looks and behaviour definitely leaned much more towards the Ridgeback side. From the very beginning we were all crazy about this dog. Butch was fantastic with kids, and it was like he always had a deep sense of protecting and guarding us. Even though he grew up surrounded by other dogs and animals he was quite jealous over us and often behaved like a spoilt brat, forcing himself between us and any other dog that had “the audacity” to expect love and attention from us.
A good dog can teach us a lot about our Heavenly Father. Not only does he jealously watch over us, but he also becomes our best friend and companion, following us even when we seemingly don’t care at that moment. I remember sitting with Butch on the grass under the trees, feeling such a great sense of joy and peace during those moments. With an animal you can truly just BE without pretence or any urge to perform or prove yourself. They love you unconditionally, even when you’re at your worst.
But alas, Butch also brought us a lot of trouble and cost us money. We didn’t have goats at the time when we got him as a puppy so, being true to his nature as a hunter, he hated all livestock. It was a general rule on the compound to keep the gate closed, but on the rare occasions that someone forgot, Butch would go out “hunting” for goats or sheep. I can recall at least two occasions when he killed a neighbours’ sheep, and every time we of course, had to recompense the cost.
When we finally decided to buy a few goats, we tried our best to make them get used to each other and — for the most time – Butch behaved well whenever we brought the goats out to graze a little outside their pen. I think “pretended” to behave well, was more like it, because one day we suddenly heard a huge commotion outside. Butch was attacking our goats with a vengeance and there was blood everywhere. We had to literally drag him off of Mary, who was pregnant.
We immediately contacted the local vet and, after examining and stitching up Billy and Mary, he gave us the disheartening news that the shock on Mary’s system would probably cause her to miscarriage. We then did what we always do in sickness or challenging situations — we prayed and laid hands on Mary, trusting God to reverse the obvious and perform a surgery of His own!
About two weeks later on May 27 2014, Mary gave birth to two healthy kids. We were ecstatic and oh, so grateful!
Ps 36:6 — Your righteousness is like the mountains of God; your judgments are like the great deep; man and beast you save, O Lord.
Butch also one day attacked a dog we were looking after for fellow missionaries while they were on furlough in the States. We kept Mister Whiskers in the back yard as Butch just hated him from the word go. Granted, he had this irritating high-pitched bark and loved to whine, so nobody blamed Butch for his bad attitude towards Mister. I don’t remember what happened, but one day Mister got out and of course that was the opportunity Butch was waiting for.
I’ll never forget it. $150 later and by the grace of God, we managed to save Mister Whiskers from a very near death. Dr Crane was already in his 70s, but still one of the best veterinarians in Nakuru. The passion and dedication with which he dealt with animals was admirable. Although it was sad to write to our friends, Larry and Barbara, to tell them about the tragic incident involving their beloved dog, we could at least give them the assurance that Mister would be okay. We were forced to find him another place to stay though, as the stress and responsibility surrounding him being with us, was just too much.
A few months later someone poisoned Butch. He wasn’t very popular with our neighbours due to his love for killing livestock and his harsh temperament towards outsiders. We couldn’t get hold of Dr Crane, so we asked “Daktari” Sharon to come and tend to our big baby. Although she did everything she could, she couldn’t save him: he died on the night of August 1 2014, the day before my birthday.
Although we were all heartbroken, we treasure the memories of our Butch.
Ecclesiastic 3:19-20 — For what happens to the children of man and what happens to the beasts is the same; as one dies, so dies the other. They all have the same breath, and man has no advantage over the beasts, for all is vanity. All go to one place. All are from the dust, and to dust all return.
The above Scripture can sound a little depressing as it doesn’t talk about the afterlife, but we know that the Lord God is making everything beautiful in His time. He is preparing a New Heaven and a New Earth and we know it will be perfect. In the meantime we find comfort in a Scripture like Isaiah 11:6-9 that says: The wolf shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the young goat, and the calf and the lion and the fattened calf together; and a little child shall lead them. The cow and the bear shall graze; their young shall lie down together; and the lion shall eat straw like the ox. The nursing child shall play over the hole of the cobra, and the weaned child shall put his hand on the adder’s den. They shall not hurt or destroy in all my holy mountain; for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea.
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