“I Have a Meeting to Attend”

Because I had grown up among the Sukuma people in Tanzania (my folks were missionaries out there and I was too young (4) to have any say in the matter!) and had learned the language as a child, soon after I arrived outthere as a missionary another older missionary and I traveled around for several years after annual harvest times conducting Short Term Bible Schools. We would go from church district to church district, holding the classes in central church. Up to 30 could be in attendance – church elders, deacons, “Bible women” and even the district pastor. It was great.

These classes would be held for a week – sometimes two weeks – at the end of which an examination would be given covering the teaching given. I won’t say that the students looked forward to the tests but afterward all would broadcast the grade they received, especially those who did well!

All – except one time. We were in an area where the pastor had never had an education beyond grade two. He was probably in his 60s, well respected and, before accepting the Lord as Savior had been a renown witchdoctor. Someone had purchased him a 75cc BSA motorbike for him to get around to his out churches. I don’t think he ever got it out of first-gear he moved so slowly on the bike.

Anyway, he attended the classes in his central church. Every day he was there and participated in any discussions. He did very well. Came the day of the exam. All the students were there, pencils poised, ready to answer the questions written on a blackboard. All, except him, that is! He was tardy. But we had to start.

After all were engrossed in writing, in he came. He shuffled down the aisle to the front, retrieved his glasses from his pocked and looked up at the blackboard for several minutes. Soon he turned to me and said, “I just remembered, I have a meeting I need to attend”. With that he turned and walked out.

He never did take the exam and I never found out if he really did have a meeting that day. I did learn that he had a hard time seeing (he had thick glasses to read with) – maybe it was that my blackboard writing was not clear enough for him.

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