NOTES FROM THE FIELD (FIFTH IN A SERIES)
In this series, those involved with CLC foreign missions profile one ASPECT of our overseas endeavors.
Down the Switchback Road
There arises a question, in working overseas, whether the missionary should drive himself or hire a driver. One concern is what kind of liability would be involved if there were an accident, or even if someone were killed in an accident. In our first term in Nigeria, both my wife and I drove, though the Mission Board was in favor of our hiring a driver from the beginning. Finally we gave in, and when we returned for a second time, we decided to hire a driver. This man could not only drive, he also relieved the missionary of the time and responsibilities connected with maintenance of the vehicle. In Nigeria there was good reason for concern that when work was done on a vehicle, no faulty parts be put in. Our driver in Nigeria, Ekpo, was a member of the Efa congregation (see page two for a picture). Ekpo did admirably in all areas. He has since gone to be with the Lord, but we remember him fondly for all the work he removed from our shoulders: changing oil, changing tires, knowing where to go and how to get there, and looking out for us and our family. If we had trouble with anyone along the way, Ekpo could discourage him with his frown and barrel-chested body.
When we moved the base of our operations to India, the question of a driver arose yet again, and we decided to hire one. Quite a number of the drivers we had did not do a good job and didn’t last long. One man, Manoharan, evidently had been employed in office work, and we found out that he was not suited for driving. However, this discovery came only as a result of some experiences. One experience that basically ended his service was an accident in coming down a switchback road in the hills above Vaniyambadi. Manoharan had already proved that he was fast; some would say too fast. And he had not always been careful with impediments in the road like strolling water buffaloes and rocks. But the clincher for his termination was the switchback. We were coming down the road with the hills on one side and a steep drop-off on the other. At one point Manoharan squeaked out, “No brakes!” Right away I advised him to start bumping against the up side of the road, and the rocks that were there along the road. He did, and we went bumping along, gradually being slowed by hitting whatever was there in order to keep from speeding up and going over the edge. Finally we hit a big enough rock that it not only stopped us but flipped us on our side in the middle of the road. Manoharan was hanging above me held by his seatbelt, moaning. I told him it would all be alright and I crawled out. I loosened his seat belt and he crawled out, too, just as a truck full of workers was coming up the hill. They turned the car right side up and pushed it to the side of the road. They were not as powerful as the angels who kept us from going over the edge, but they did manage to get the damaged car to the side. Manoharan referred to that little green car as “the devil car.” It is our wonderful Lord Who takes care of us, come what may.
Now in India our missionaries have a driver named Kumar, who is everything you would want in a driver, except that he is not a Christian yet. Pray that through the influence of our missionaries and their wives, Kumar and his wife and daughter may come to believe in our God—the God who can do anything!
David Koenig was an overseas missionary for many years, and continues to be active in missions. He lives in West Columbia, South Carolina.