Report From Southern Rhodesia
Gwelo, Southern Rhodesia
(Editorial Note: Knowing the TRUTH MAGAZINE readers have great interest in what is being done by faithful gospel preachers in distant parts of the world, periodically we shall print reports sent to us. One such report follows--from Brother Foy Short in Southern Rhodesia).
We have been back in Rhodesia for three months. It's good to be back, though we miss all our friends and loved ones we left behind in the States.
Our work here falls naturally into two parts because of the difference between the two races of people we live among and teach. We actually spend most of our time in teaching the white people, but we also spend some time in preaching among the black (native) people. There are 42 congregations among the black people in this western end of the country. One of the greatest problems of the work among them is that there are so many congregations! What? Too many congregations? Well, not exactly that, but too many for the limited number of trained preachers and teachers available to be able to visit them very often. The church has spread so rapidly among the native people that now there are many congregations of poorly taught Christians who are very young in the faith. They are poorly taught because there are not enough preachers and teachers. They are poorly taught because native people are easily persuaded to be baptized, hence are baptized without a proper understanding of what they are committing themselves to. Jesus warned about this very thing in Luke 14:27-35. It is a never-failing thrill to see the eagerness with which the African people respond to the gospel. They see so much in it that they instinctively feel that they need. But it is sad to see how discouraged they can get too. What we must endeavor to do is to provide them with more teaching, not on merely becoming a Christian, but that infinitely more difficult and longer process of living the Christian life.
Another problem in the work with the native churches is the big distances that must be traveled in order to visit them. This traveling is expensive in time as well as money, and therefore limits the amount of visiting that we can do. There are only three of these native churches, which are less than 100 miles from Gwelo. Several of them are more than 200 miles away. To get to some of them, you have to travel over tracks on which you cannot average more than 20 miles an hour, and the jeep is ideal for such trips. I am trying to visit one native church per month at the present.
Problems among the white churches are much the same as in the States, except for one big difference; these white people have only known about the gospel and about the church for a few years at the most. They haven't even heard of "Campbellites! " But like young Christians everywhere, they have to learn to attend services, give liberally, and be taught the danger of worldliness in the church. And like people everywhere, some grow in the faith quickly, some slowly, and some are very weak and never seem to grow very much.
The answer to these problems is simply teaching and more teaching. God's Word is able to furnish the answer to all of man's needs and God's way for us to meet the problems of the church is through TEACHING.
One way we are trying to teach the native Christians more is through the printing and distributing of literature. The Market St. congregation in Athens. Ala. is supplying us with the funds needed to buy supplies for this and to hire a native man to translate material. Bro. Enoch Ncube is working with US in this and we are teaching him to type. Until he learns to type, Margaret and I are leaving to double up on our work and do the typing of stencils in the Sindebele language. During May and June, we have printed a total of about 3,500 items, and this will be increased as Bro. Ncube can take over some of the typing.
Among the white people, we have found cottage meetings about the most effective way of reaching people and we also have follow up lessons with people who are baptized, for a certain period. Then another big step towards getting the teaching done among the white people is the TRAINING PROGRAM we have undertaken with two young white Rhodesians, Melville Sheasby and Paddy Kendall-Ball. I believe that training our own preachers right here is one of the greatest contributions we can make to the future of the church in Central Africa. A necessary part of this training is the thorough study of the Bible and related subjects such as church history, denominational doctrines, etc., and this takes up quite a bit of time.
We certainly appreciated the support you brethren gave us in the past, and are greatly encouraged by the wonderful interest you are continuing to show. Without you we could not be doing this work.
Truth Magazine VII: 2, pp. 23-24