Thursday, April 8, 2010


After writing last week's blog on monsters, I got a crash course in hippos from an unexpected source. Missionary Steve Burkholder, serves God in Africa. Hippos kill more people there than any other animal. So the monsters are very real! Recently the death of a villager led to a hunt. His help on that venture opened the door to share Christ.

Read his story below the pictures.

Dear Family and Friends,

It has been awhile since I had an adventure that really reminded me where we really are here in the African bush. It is easy to get used to the day to day activities and forget to take those once in a lifetime opportunities.

I had such an opportunity this past Wednesday in the village of Basotu. Our church in Katesh, Kweli Baptist Church, was able to start a daughter church in this village last year under the vision and leadership of missionary Nate Wolf and Bible Institute student Christopher.

There have been many ministry opportunities in the area and outreaches to the community. God has blessed and we have seen the spiritual fruit in recent days.

This village is located near a small lake that is the foundation of the economy there. It is a fishing community with many of the men of the village relying on fishing for their only income. Along with having some small fish and some rather large catfish the lake is also home to hippos. These huge animals can be dangerous to humans and are responsible for more human deaths than any other African wildlife.

The villagers have been writing letters to the government for two months for the local game official to come and take care of a few of the more aggressive hippos. Just last week a fisherman was killed while fishing from his dugout canoe. Since then all fishing has been banned because of safety reasons. This has caused obvious economic problems for the village.

After hearing about the death of the fisherman the local government tried to hunt and kill the dangerous hippos. They did not have much success the first day. When I heard about this through Nate Wolf we called the local officials to get more information. I was interested in going to join the hunt and they welcomed us to come out the next day. I did some research on hippo hunting and headed out to the village. Although my rifle is way too small for hunting hippo and I did not have the correct ammunition I thought I would give it a try.

Shortly after arriving and meeting with the local officials we set out with the fishermen to find the hippos. The local game official was also there with his very old but very large rifle.

Needless to say the atmosphere was very tense and sober just a day after the funeral of the local fisherman. After a short drive along the lake a hippo was spotted and the hunt was on. After wading out into waist deep, stinky, slug-water, the hippo was in sight. It would pop up and down out of the water hiding in the tall reeds and grass.

Finally a good shot was present and we counted 1.2.3. and both shot at the same time. The hippo was hit and injured but it took 8 more shots from my gun and 2 from the game official before the waters were calm again. It was a shot right through the ear that was the deadly one.

It took about 20 men to drag, pull, and roll the huge animal to the soggy shore. Shortly after, the local officials said there were others that needed to be shot and we piled into the cars and the hunt was on again.

After a few hours of trying we returned to the first site and the skinning and butchering of the meat began. There were approximately 1000 people gathered at one point. The meat will be divided and sold and invested back into the community. I was able to bring home about a meter of the hippo hide that I would like to make something out of. I have also requested the large teeth.

The next day they found and shot another hippo and were having a village party with dancing and of course plenty of meat. The local officials and villagers were very grateful for the help and welcomed us again.

It was an amazing day that I will never forget. Most of this was captured on video and there were plenty of pictures taken. Nate plans to use the footage in the future to have a large gathering and share the gospel with those who come. Who knew that God could use hunting hippo as a way to serve the community and share the gospel.

Enjoy the pictures and welcome for a hippo burger anytime!

Steve Burkholder

It's me (Kathy) again. I found it quite amazing how God worked through this modern day David. He still accomplishes kingdom work, His ministry, in mysterious ways.

1 comment:

  1. I am so glad that you posted this story. Sometimes people get a romantic concept of foreign missions; this brings the reality of it all home. Awesome story, sis.