When the brethren crossed the Platte River, they rested their horses. Distant thunder shook the ground, and alarm crept into their hearts. Riders on horseback galloped over the horizon. The only sound that could be heard was the drumming of hooves on the hard ground, dusting the earth behind them. As they rushed closer, John could see they were Indians dressed in war paint and feathers – their bows and rifles in hand.
With the river in back of them, the missionaries had no place to hide or time to escape. They couldn’t outrun the Indians. John knew he and the other travelers were in the hands of the Lord. He prayed.
The missionaries froze in place, knowing they could die at any moment. They waited. The Indians thundered closer. Were they on the war-path or friendly? They weren’t yelling any war whoops.
When the Indians got within a few feet of the missionaries, they reined in their horses, drew their bows and cocked their rifles as if to shoot. With a prayer in their hearts and faith in the Lord, the missionaries stood firm.
Soon the chief urged his horse forward. He handed the missionaries a letter saying the Indians were peaceful members of the Cheyenne tribe. John shifted in his saddle, wiping the sweat from his forehead and offering a silent prayer of gratitude for safety.
The missionaries invited the Indians to feast with them on dried meat and crackers. That evening John and a few of the others visited the Indians’ camp. The tribe seemed friendly but a little embarrassed because their plan to frighten the group hadn’t worked.