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011 You Never Know Who's Watching

In 2010, a missionary named Eric Ramsey with Tom Cox World Missions visited the Yansi people near the Kwilu River at the far western edge of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, in central Africa. Reaching these people required a 2 1/2-hour flight from Kinshasa to a remote town called Vanga, then crossing the river in dugout canoes, followed by a 10-mile hike through the jungle before they found the first village. Ramsey expected that the Yansi people might actually have heard the name "Jesus" before but would not know anything about him.

What he found, to his amazement, was an established network of Christian churches with representatives in every village. Each Yansi village has its own gospel choir (though they didn't call them that) and they would have sing-offs between the villages. There was a stone cathedral in one village with seating for 1,000 people. The Yansi explained that the building had gotten so crowded that they had to plant churches in surrounding villages so there would be room for all the celebrants.

The villagers remembered one name of a missionary who been there before, but did not know if it was his first or last name. They knew he had been a Baptist, and they could name the year that he'd been there. They did not know anything else about how Jesus had come to their tribe.

Ramsey did some homework and discovered that the previous missionary was one Dr. William Leslie, a Canadian pharmacist associated with the American Baptist Missionary Union. He had served in the Congo for 17 years ending in 1912. He had set up a mission station in Vanga, and once a year he would cross the Kwilu River and speak to the Yansi people. After 17 years he had some falling-out with the tribesmen in Vanga and they asked him to leave.

Note carefully: Dr. Leslie left believing that he had had very little impact for the gospel. He did not know whether there was any permanent fruit that would remain in his absence. He died 9 years later thinking that his mission had been a failure. He never (in this life) saw the network of healthy churches that were thriving 100 years later where he had spent a few days a year throwing seeds.

I've spoken before about perseverance, and I will speak about it again. You never know what impact you are having, nor who is listening when you speak. We go through life without indicators explaining to us who has been helped (or hurt) by our conduct.

So I'm saying to you: do good, seek God, commit yourself to being the best servant of Jesus that you know how to be... and trust God for the outcome. You may never see the fruit of your efforts, but that does not mean that it does not exist. We live our lives without seeing the big picture; that's just the way it is. You trusted God for your redemption. Trust Him for your fruit as well.

I actually told God once that I'd appreciate it if He would not tell me what good I was doing, 'cause I was afraid I'd get proud and make an idol out of it if I knew. I've regretted that once or twice, but I think it was a reasonable request.

You can read more about Dr. Leslie's story at

Psalm 126:6 "He that goes forth weeping, bearing precious seed, shall doubtless come again with rejoicing, bringing his sheaves with him." Only, we just might have to do the rejoicing in the next life, not this one. It happens.

Commit yourself to being faithful regardless of what it gets you, and I'll be back with you in a couple of weeks.

Phil Weingart


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