As a little girl at Katangulu, Tanganyika Territory in the late 1940s visits from snakes of various sizes and shapes seemed to be part of our daily routine, especially during the hot months of the seasonal dry time. These periods of drought and sometimes famine brought creatures of varied sorts out from their hiding places in search for water or an easy meal near human habitation.
My neighbor, Miss Lucilda Newton, was a special auntie to me as we shared the same dislike for the porridge served up on a daily basis. On a very special ‘sleep over’ she would share her precious Kellogg’s corn flakes with me – a rare treat indeed. She was also fond of cats (so was I) and her cat had recently given birth to three adorable kittens. Not sensing any threat or danger, they were ‘housed’ in a box in the kitchen, which was a separate building from the main living quarters.
During the early morning hours, a big snake slithered his way down the rocky terrain behind our small mission station (3 homesteads) searching for a tasty meal. Having a highly sensitive tongue and sense of smell, the python picked up a familiar scent of a recent animal birth. Twisting and turning his lengthy body over the terrain, he soon found easy prey. Silently with sleuth and shadows offering excellent camouflage, he entered our mission compound and found the three little, squirming cute kittens. The mother cat was out foraging and the baby cats were too young and innocent to know the danger that had encroached into the supposed safety of a warm basket.
When Miss Newton went to check on her new little brood, she was shocked and stunned and nearly scared to death by what she encountered. She let out a shriek for help, screaming as loudly as she could to her neighbors, my family, the Donners. Our other neighbors heard the screams and both men grabbed their guns and responded quickly to Aunt Lucilda’s cry for help. They discovered the large python in the kitten basket and a well placed bullet to his head killed him instantly.
Seeing this very large and long python brought fear into all, especially us kids – this snake was huge in our eyes. Being curious, the Africans and the two missionary men decided to measure its length. It was so long they tied a rope around its tail and carefully hoisted it up into a big tree. Its neck and head were still coiled on the ground. On the back of a black and white photo of the snake (sadly in USA) my dad recorded that this python was 20 feet long!
As an adult now and still resident in Africa, my childhood memory is very strong. As I do research on varied types of African wildlife, I discovered predators often seek out the young of other creatures, even sometimes eating their own kind as an act of superiority in the circle of life. Though pythons don’t roar or bark, snort or shriek, like other predators, they do hiss. But usually their approach is quiet and unannounced with a keen eye for anything weakened or defenseless.
Satan is compared to a serpent, sneaking, slithering around quietly, looking for the young and vulnerable to wrap his suffocating coils around them, putting increasing pressure on the body by every breath taken. In a short time, after three lethal coils are successfully surrounding its victim, his innocent, ignorant prey is dead!
Parents need to take serious responsibility in the rearing of our children, warning them of Satan’s tactics, which are so subtle and secretly attractive! Our Creator, God himself, has offered us a way of escape from Satan’s ploy and destructive plan. In the loving gift of faith in His Son Jesus Christ who died to set us free, we can be guaranteed life everlasting without fear of the enemy.
Pythons are beautiful creatures but not reptiles to be trusted. Scripture warns us to be aware and alert yet not to be afraid for I AM always with you. What a perfect plan to thwart a python’s ploy!