Petro was an evangelist out on the largest island in the south of Lake Victoria. He was out of his tribal area, among a people who were traditionally looked down on by the Sukuma people but he had been taken there by the missionaries to work at the mission church school since he had a real teaching gift. And he was very effective.
But there was a problem. His wife was barren. Though they had been married for a good number of years, they still had no children of their own. And, in the eyes of both his own tribe and the tribe among whom he was working, a married man without children was still a child himself. He had not yet proven his manhood! I am sure both Petro and his wife tried every kind of medicine available, both traditional and more modern. Nothing.
“Prove yourself!” The pressure grew. Satan started working on him and putting into his mind what other men do to prove their manhood. He resisted. He fought. He yielded. He “fell into sin” and impregnated another woman. A child, his but not his and his wife’s, was on the way. The other woman accused him. The church leadership met to confront. First, he denied but the Lord God convicted him and he later confessed.
Removal from church leadership was determined. Shunning, on the part of missionaries with whom he had worked, was his lot. No matter what he did, he could not seem to be able to shake his reputation of “spiritual unfaithfulness” and he languished in church inactivity.
At least 15 years later, Carol and I and the family moved to a “new” area. We were to construct a school, establish a mission station and church and work with the few African evangelists who were already in the area. And, Petro was one of them. He had moved into this remote area, not only to try and “shake” his reputation, but mainly to be able to begin again in ministry. A small congregation was now meeting at his home compound and a number of new believers were growing in the Lord. Petro was also very active in visiting the local primary schools and teaching Bible to the attending students.
When we started the new Salawe mission station, with the prospects of a large full primary school (grades 4 to 8), the African evangelists in the area selected him and his family to move to near where the station was to be and designated him to be the Salawe station evangelist. He was also to be the Bible teacher in the school being established.
Petro was a most faithful and fervent worker for the Lord during our years there. I could not have asked for one better – one who had endured much to serve the Lord; one who was thoroughly versed in local customs and culture; one who was always ready and faithful in whatever work was needed. During the construction of the school, church and other station buildings, when we often had over 40 workmen on the job, he usually conducted the morning devotions with the men and was always available for witness and counsel.
Faithful? Yes! And the Lord had now given him a family! His first son he named “Isaka” (Isaac); his second son “Emanueli” (Emanuel) in recognition of God’s faithfulness in spite of his own unfaithfulness. Petro and his wife – yes, her name given to her at her baptism many years before was “Sara” (Sarah)! – are high on my list of the glowing embers of the fire of African servants of the Lord.