I do not believe in coincidences. Having followed God through the wilderness, we have experienced His humble and invisible hand of love reach out and lead us too many times to think otherwise. So when my family gave me the book The Elephant Whisperer by Lawrence Anthony for my birthday in 2017, I was not expecting God to break into our world and speak as He did. From that book came a powerful truth about sacrificial love and humility.
There was a herd of elephants who lived in northern South Africa that had run afoul of the people they lived around. The matriarch of this rogue herd had learned to take the hit of 8,000 volts to break through electric fences, and the herd was very much feared for their uncontrollable nature. This angry temperament had not been their fault; but the humans who lived around them were in fear for their lives. Lawrence Anthony was a conservationist who owned the Thula Thula Private Game Reserve in Zululand, South Africa.
The authorities gave Lawrence the chance to take in the herd that was slated to be destroyed. Despite his reservations, Lawrence’s compassion compelled him to take the animals. However, he had to electrify 20 miles of the game reserve fencing and build an electrified paddock called a boma; a Zulu term for ‘small enclosure’. This was to hold the herd while they settled in.
Acclimating to new surroundings would take time. The herd was restless and traumatized. To make matters much worse, before the authorities shipped the herd to Thula Thula, they killed the matriarch and her calf reducing the herd size to 7. Since elephants are deeply emotional and have strong family bonds, the herd was further traumatized.
They transported this emotionally distraught group of elephants to Thula Thula on a very rainy day. The agitated elephants were difficult to unload. To make this situation worse, unbeknownst to Lawrence, his guards were poachers. They were actively, but secretively, trying to sabotage the electric fencing. These rogue guards hoped the elephants would escape so they could continue poaching.
Shortly after the herd arrived, a gun shot rang out in the night, spooking the herd. The elephants broke through the boma and escaped the reserve altogether. Eventually, they were found; but not before they had almost killed a gamekeeper in a neighboring reserve.
The whole area wanted to kill the elephants. They even issued the rangers powerful elephant guns to hunt down the herd if they got loose. Lawrence pleaded for their lives and asked for one last chance to save them. Knowing there was no other hope, Lawrence had the elephants brought back to the repaired and reinforced boma. He knew if they escaped again, rangers would kill the herd without mercy.
Knowing what was at stake, and having deep compassion for them, Lawrence decided that the elephants only chance was if they could connect with one human. He decided to be that human.
Lawrence and an assistant gathered some supplies and camped out at the boma. They spent weeks there; staying with the herd and getting them used to his presence. Each day they would watch and feed the elephants. The animals were furious at being locked up and were ferocious.
Standing in the gap
The first night at exactly 4:45 AM, the new matriarch Nana decided she would break out through the electric fence and head home with her family. Lawrence knew if they escaped, they would seal their fate; so he stood in their way. Terrified, Lawrence stood his ground and spoke calmly to the fierce matriarch.
A 250-pound man is no match for a 5-ton angry elephant; especially one that busted through electric fences a few days earlier. She trumpeted and flared like she would take the herd right through the fence and Lawrence with it; but yet did not. Lawrence laid his life down for this herd, knowing he was their only hope. The elephants seemed to know this too. After a few minutes Nana stood down, then turned around and left.
Exactly at 4:45 a.m. every morning, Nana would repeat this blustering routine; lining the herd due north, ready to go home. Lawrence would stand in her way and talk to her; soothingly. She would always stand down. One day, after the herd left, Nana turned around and stared at Lawrence for a short time. He knew something had changed. Nana still came to take the herd out at 4:45 AM each day, but was less aggressive.
Touching the heart
The days passed and Lawrence could see them calming and settling down. One day Nana put out her trunk past the electric wires and reached out to Lawrence. This was dangerous as he could have been pulled into the electric fence and trampled to death. Once again he put his life on the line, in simple trust, to help the wounded elephants. Lawrence stayed out of reach so that Nana’s trunk couldn’t pull him in; but close enough that she could barely touch him. Her trunk was soft and slimy as she touched his forehead and made contact for the first time. Lawrence knew they had formed a bond; a small level of trust on both sides. It was time to let the herd out of the boma and into the reserve.
Lawrence and a ranger pushed open the door to the boma and waited nearby. The adult and teenage elephants came out slowly, but a little baby elephant couldn’t get past a mud hole at the entrance. Nana pushed down a 30-foot tree by the entrance and made a way for the baby. Pure power that could have busted down an electric fence with Lawrence on the other side; but didn’t.
The herd eventually acclimated to the reserve and made no further attempts at breaking out. Lawrence’s guards, the undercover poachers, did everything they could to sabotage the fence and make the elephants escape. They wanted the elephants removed or shot so they could continue illegally poaching. Thankfully, the herd stayed in the reserve. The poachers were discovered and left.
In this story we see the tender, sacrificial love of a man for a herd of elephants that had no place else to turn. By giving them a home and showing them respect and compassion, Lawrence had earned their respect. The herd settled into their new home and became an integral part of Lawrence’s life; just as much as he had become a part of their family.
Lawrence won the elephants over not by dominance, strength or control; but by simple, sacrificial love. Such is the awesome power of love.
After we left our basement apartment on July 1 of 2017, we had no home again; no place to go to where we could rest and relax. We drove around Kingston for 20 days; sleeping in a tent in a local sports park and cleaning up at an athletic facility. Then we connected with a lady we had been in touch with long ago. After many emails, she felt led of God to support us as missionaries and bring some financial stability to our faith journey.
Our ‘temporary’ arrangement has now lasted since July 23, 2017; thanks to this sacrificial love and obedience to God’s voice. However, even though we are inside, we sometimes feel trapped and frustrated there is no clear leading for a new home. God, however, in His infinite wisdom and love has purpose and reason for keeping us confined. Although we cannot fathom the reason, we trust in His unfailing, sacrificial love and stay put.
In His unassuming way, God used this story of a rogue herd of elephants to help us understand what He has been doing all along.
Moved by sacrifice
Such is the quiet, humble love of God. His tender nature knows we have been hurt and traumatized by our wilderness journey; way beyond our own understanding. He is reintegrating us back into the body of Christ through the real church that entered with compassion; just as Lawrence did with the elephants. God led us to our own boma and connected us to a dear sister in Jesus who understands the pain and trauma we have been through. Her humble sacrifice was God’s direct love to us.
The wilderness season is all about betrayal. Betrayal cuts and tears our insides apart and leaves deep heartbreak and wariness. God’s humble heart of sacrificial love heals us from the trauma. His way is quiet, respectful and tenderly gracious; just like Lawrence. Over these past 2 years we have, like the elephants, begun to trust again. Although we may feel trapped and frustrated with our confinement, Jesus quietly stands in our way and speaks soothing words to our heart.
How can we not be moved by such humility and sacrifice?
Learning to trust
One day as we were out on our errands, I parked beside a car. Written in the dust on the door of the other car were the words, ‘God is love.’ Once again God’s subtle, quiet and humble message was coming through. He unveiled that it is His love that matters. Yes, God is love, but we need to feel, sense and become conduits of His love.
God’s humble, sacrificial love needs to flow through us, as our dear sister demonstrated.
We need to, like Lawrence, lay down our lives in sacrifice so that the love of the Father can come through. However, first we need to know Jesus loves us; only then can we bring His love to others. By his humble acts, Lawrence taught Wanda and I about the love of God once again. Thanks to our sister’s act of sacrificial love, done in humility, we too have been shown mercy. The Father will know when our touch is soft enough; Jesus’ love flowing freely through His beloved to others. May we learn the lesson from the boma and become conduits of His sacrificial love.
Homer and Wanda
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The word came to Joseph from Pharaoh, so he was brought up quickly from the dungeon, he shaved his head and changed his clothes, because the Lord was getting ready to flip the script of his life….(Genesis 41:14)
The word came to Ruth from her mother-in-law Naomi saying, wash, put on perfume, and get dressed in your best clothes, because the Lord was getting ready to flip the script of her life..(Ruth 3:1-3)
Thus I hear the word of the Lord saying unto Homer and Wanda, your season of stretching and suffering is quickly drawing to an end. Make ready for this sudden transition, remembering that how the Lord’s led you BOTH, is how you shall live going forward. In other words, all the things the Lord has revealed, shown, and taught you, these things ye shall do forever. Do not turn from the right hand nor to the left, and as it was with Caleb and Joshua, continue to wholly follow the Lord. Peace and God’s blessing be upon you both, this is my prayer in Jesus’s name!! Amen!!
AMEN and WOW! Thank you SOOO much! We are absolutely stunned at this word from the Lord and the confirmation He has given! Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! God has been giving us words and visions this month but I have to admit I have been doubtful because of the length of time things have been going on. This word from our Father is incredibly timely and encouraging. Bless you dear brother! May He increase your blessings for the obedience in giving this word! You cannot fathom how much this has touched us so deeply! Thank you!
I thoroughly understand that feeling as the Lord’s been impressing upon me the same word. My journey through the wilderness and its length has caused me to at times wonder, but thankful that the Lord didn’t allow me to wander away from His words. His amazing nudges and confirmation come to solidify our faith and trust in Him and He sees and knows that our belief in Him hasn’t waned, we just want to be sure.
For the last several months, particularly all this year, I’ve been pondering and asking the Lord how did Joshua know that it was really time to possess the promise. Remembering that Joshua was with Moses and journeyed ALLLLLLL those years, embracing the manna and wholly following the Lord, I wondered and pondered, Lord what let Joshua know that it was time…
Not one time did the Lord answer that question with a particular word, but soon I began getting words of confirmation over and over and over again, and all of a sudden my faith and belief was awakened LIKE NEVER BEFORE. I began seeing myself following the Lord and operating in a full manifestation of His word. It was then I could here the Lord say to me, when this part of you is awakened, then you’ll know it!
As I’ve been reading and following your messages, I understand where you are truly, and as soon as I read this message the Lord gave me an immediate download to share.
God is ABSOLUTELY AMAZING and all I can say is this, “Get Ready!” As the Lord speaks into your hearts and spirit, BELIEVE Him! It’s time! The journey has been long and hard, but now is the time….
“But may the God of all grace, who called us to His eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after you have suffered a while, perfect, establish, strengthen, and settle you…1 Peter 5:10
Awesome! Thank you so much. Wanda and I have been pondering this word of the Lord all day today. It has been very encouraging and lines up with all the dreams and visions we have been having. It is time!
Funny note about this post. I was wondering what the Lord wanted to say today and was going through my old posts from my previous site. I came across this one but dismissed it. Then as I was about to choose another one God said, no, go back and post this one, so I did. We can see now why He wanted this.
Thank you again!
Have Your way in our lives Lord!!!!!!!!
Homer, this is a powerful story. One caring human sacrifice hos life to save a herd of elephant. This is a demonstration of the sacrificial love that God has for us. May God continie to use you mightily for His glory.
Amen! Thank you Beverley. May God add to your blessings with His great love!
I came across your site on the kingdom blogger link party.
This is awe inspiring, thank you for spreading the love of Christ and doing the world you do.
I would love to collaborate with you to help create awareness about what missionaries go through and how we can be of help.
Thank you for your comment. We certainly welcome any opportunity to connect and see how the Father leads us. May He bless you abundantly!
Awesome Parable of Agape Love
May you see and know that your new home is within yourself, within all of Us, Within God and God within us, The Forever Tabernacle of the Lord. Amen
Yes, long ago we learned that and are thankful each day we have a new home in Him. Still, as a family, we are looking forward to the fulfillment of a physical home promise God gave to us long (20+ years) ago. Jesus is a God who makes and keeps good promises. 🙂
May His blessings overflow in your life today!
May You as well be blessed with all the abundance of God richly and rightly divided in the advancement of His Kingdom within you.
THanK You, Yeshua
THanK You, Jehovah our Provider
Yes, It’s all about perspective.
From which direction are we looking from and toward.
We are Travelers, We are sojourners in the capacity of ambassadors, being here, there and everywhere with no commercial intent.
The brotherhood of the anti entropic continuum.
No longer having a spirit locked in a cage, but now free to be one in the Holy Spirit.
Wonderful story Homer! Love does involve sacrifice. After all Jesus sacrificed His very life for us, and the man in this story was willing to do the same for the elephants. Such a great example of love. Thanks for sharing!
Thank you so much my sister. Have a blessed day.
You’re welcome brother! Have a blessed day too! ?