I was inspired to preach on the “Unknown Soldier” this weekend. My inspiration was a 73 year old man named Philemon who has attended our church for the last 2 years. Since he was one of the few “madalahs” in our church he was not difficult to miss. He answered an altar call and as far as I knew he had no family in church but made the 20-minute walk to church pretty consistently. I was visiting two people in the hospital the previous Sunday when I was told he was also in the hospital. His brothers were seated around him. I was told it was malaria. I prayed for him, he smiled and that has kind of been how our relationship has been these last 2 years. I greet him he smiles and life goes on.
But his life ended a few days later. Our young men sang at the funeral house and several people from the church ministered. We provided some basics for the funeral house but the family had all of the big expenses covered. I went to the funeral house to take people to the graveyard for the burial. While waiting for the bus from sugar his granddaughter approached me. She described his recent visit to Lusaka where he shocked the family, pronouncing that he had been born again. She said his visit had an impact upon the whole family. I was mulling these things over as we headed to the graveyard where I would preach. An old man with over 30 grandchildren in the area, somehow came to our church and got saved, continued to attend church and even bore witness of his faith in Christ to his family in Lusaka, a witness that had impact. It was a joy to preach under these circumstances. The old man had prepared the way for all of us who ministered during the course of his funeral. Many hands went up during the altar call and we all prayed together.
One of his nephews gave his life history at the burial. He was from up north. He started the life history by saying he has never attended a funeral like this one. He is used to drunkenness at the funeral house. He was surprised at the way the funeral house was conducted. He was amazed to have a white preacher preach at the gravesite and he said it was something he would never forget. He and the elder brother attended this last Sunday’s service, they had one of Philemon’s sons give the church a thank you. He asked me to spin by the house one more time. He had me step inside the house and greet the ladies who were within. He said all 8 of them were his daughters and he wanted me to visit the house regularly and do bible studies and report back to him what happens. We will just have to step right through that door that was opened by the “unknown soldier” (only God knows the exploits of his soldiers).