Hero in Anybody’s Book

Good Morning Friends,

This morning I’m sending you an article I came across some time ago.  I think many of us can relate.

I’ve been talking about heroes the last few weeks, and one of the things that really speaks to me is the faithfulness of those men and women, even when faced with difficult or even dangerous situations. In fact, it seems to be those times of testing in the midst of the unknown that sets those people apart. The hero I want to show you today is Dr. William Leslie, a missionary in the Congo around the turn of the last century.

Just to stay alive in that place and at that time was a miracle in itself. The average life expectancy of a missionary to Africa back then was around six months. Dr. Leslie survived for 17 years, carrying the Gospel and treating the sick. The sad thing is, he finally went back home to Ontario, Canada, a broken, discouraged man. If he spoke of his time in the Congo, it was in terms of defeat and discouragement.

We could stop there, and gladly give this man “hero status” just on the basis of his faithfulness. But there’s more. Here are some excerpts from a magazine I came across awhile back. Unfortunately I’ve lost the name. But the article bears repeating:

“In 2010, a team led by Eric Ramsey with Tom Cox World Ministries made a shocking and sensational discovery. They found a network of reproducing churches hidden like glittering diamonds in the dense jungle across the Kwilu River from Vanga, where Dr. Leslie was stationed. With the help of a Mission Aviation Fellowship pilot, Ramsey and his team flew east from Kinshasa to Vanga, a two and a half hour flight in a Cessna Caravan. After they reached Vanga, they hiked a mile to the Kwilu River and used dugout canoes to cross the half-mile-wide expanse. Then they hiked with backpacks another 10 miles into the jungle before they reached the first village of the Yansi people.

“Based on his previous research, Ramsey thought the Yansi in this remote area might have some exposure to the name of Jesus, but no real understanding of Who He is. They were unprepared for their remarkable find. ‘When we got in there, we found a network of reproducing churches throughout the jungle,’ Ramsey reports. ‘Each village had its own gospel choir, although they wouldn’t call it that,’ he notes. ‘They wrote their own songs and would have sing-offs from village to village.’

“They found a church in each of the eight villages they visited scattered across 34 miles. Ramsey and his team even found a 1000-seat stone ‘cathedral’ in one of the villages. He learned that this church got so crowded in the 1980s – with many walking miles to attend — that a church planting movement began in the surrounding villages.

“Apparently, Dr. Leslie crossed the Kwilu River once a year from Vanga and spent a month traveling through the jungle, carried by servants in a sedan chair. He would teach the Bible, taught the tribal children how to read and write, talked about the importance of education, and told Bible stories.”

It was 84 years before his story of told, and he died never hearing it. But praise God, he now knows what his faithfulness accomplished.

Dr. William Leslie, a real hero is anybody’s book!

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