The safari for outreach evangelism had gone well. We were on the “home stretch” now, only a few days left before the special dry-season program would be over. All of us, myself and the 3 African men with me, were eager to get home.
The area we were now in was over toward Smith Sound (off of Lake Victoria), west of a town called Misungwi. Because it was flat and during the rains much water drained that way, we had to navigate with the truck around the dry rice-paddies. Higher areas were where people lived and that is where we were headed.
Coming closer to the settlement area, we saw a large crowd at a certain village. We headed there not knowing what had drawn the folks. The village was surrounded by a thick fence of living “manala”, bushes and trees with a toxic milk-like sap, and we couldn’t see in to see what was going on.
As we drew closer, several men separated from the crowd and came toward us. Arriving, they asked who we were and what we wanted. We conveyed to them that we came to preach God’s Word and to let them know that “Mulungu Siswe” (God our Father) wanted them to know He cares for them and has provided the only real way of comfort and peace. By this time we could hear all the weeping and wailing going on so knew that this was a funeral we had come upon.
The “man of the village” said that everyone needed to hear what we had to say. Though there were a good number of people outside of that living fence, the village compound itself was crowded with others. We were asked to bring the truck with the loud-speakers into the village itself. Several men got busy with bush-knives (machetes) and cut down a section of that living-fence so that I could drive right in. Then, we “fired up” the amplifier; the African evangelist preached explaining the entry of sin through God’s first created man (Adam), how sin continues on down to today and what God has provided through Jesus Christ to cure that sin problem.
Yes, there were a goodly number who indicated they wanted to believe. Yes, our hearts rejoiced that God had honored His Word as it was preached. Yes, we were astonished by the reception which we received at a community funeral – even to the cutting down of that fence which was the villages protection again hyena at night. THANK YOU LORD.
Fast forward at least 7 years. I had been invited out into that same area to preach. A church had now been established there; a church structure built; an African evangelist/pastor in residence. A number in the congregation were those from that funeral village who had expressed a desire to accept Christ as Saviour. They had been baptized; two were deacons in the church. My invitation to preach there was God’s way of underlining that “our labor is not in vain in the Lord”; an encouragement to faithfulness.