I was out in the “backwoods of everywhere”, on an evangelistic safari. Richard, my mentor in evangelism when I first arrived on the field, had assigned me that area and selected 3 (I believe) African evangelists to accompany me. In fact, they did most of the preaching – I provided the transportation, kept the public address system working and, on the p.a. system phonograph (this was back in the mid-50s!), played Gospel Recording songs in the local Sukuma language. I jacked the volume ‘way up to draw folks from the surrounding villages.
In this one area they really came to see what was happening. Young and old. Men and women. They seemed to really enjoy the music. As I watched the crowd more intently, I saw a number of the older folks seemingly singing along. At least they seemed to be mouthing the words.
But that night after that evangelistic meeting, I mentioned to the evangelists who were with me what I had seen. Since the assumption was that this was a new unreached area, how come some of them seemed to know the words of the songs being played on the phonograph?
The answer given was that these folks, years ago, had moved through the forests and across the swamps from the area around the Kijima mission station. Since that station had been there since the “dark ages” and many “out churches/bush churches” had been planted in that area, the older people had come into the hearing of the Gospel. They had later moved to find better pastures for their livestock and gardens, raised families there and now our evangelistic meeting was evoking memories of what they left behind. Those older folks were not “unreached” in the strict sense, just ones who had been “unresponsive” to what they had heard.
I do not remember the response to the preaching that day. I do know that when we were moved out to that general area a number of years later to establish a Mission Station, a “bush church” had been established several miles from where we had held that evangelistic meeting. An older man, Petro, who had little education beyond 3rd grade but who knew the Lord was the shepherd of the congregation. I can only pray that some of them from that meeting and who accepted the Lord that day, formed the foundation of the church that was now established there at Nkinga.