Over the course of five agonizing months, an ulcerated mass of tissue had progressively erupted into a four inch diameter tumor that now protruded a full two inches from his frail chest.
From his gaunt and grizzled form, pleading hollow eyes restlessly shifted from face to face, desperately hoping for relief or a glimmer of compassion. With hearts fluctuating between pathos and revulsion, even to our untrained eyes his plight defied remedy.
With grim insistence he requested that we apply a bandage to that oozing outgrowth thinking thereby to alleviate his distress. Instantly the absurdity of the plea fairly shouted to our staggered sensibilities: â€œWhat on earth will a band-aid do to remedy that?â€? These words were not voiced aloud, however, but rather with sympathy it was explained that only major surgery might possibly be able to help, and even that was an uncertainty.
Deflated, he dejectedly asked if we might not be able to give him something to ease his pain. This we did, for which he was thankful, and then turned to slowly trek through the bush back to his mud walled hovel in a village some distance from us. By the grace of God we hope to locate him this week and bring him to Freetown where his situation can at least be diagnosed and possibly treated.
We could not cure him. The best we could do at the moment was to provide him with temporary comfort offered in kindness. Unless he can be carried to someone with knowledge and abilities beyond our own, he will surely perish in misery.
Unless men are brought to the Great Physician, they will miserably perish despite our kindness and soothing attempts to lessen the effects of the deadly disease of sin raging within. The Scriptures warn us so: â€œAvoid worldly and empty chatter, for it will lead to further ungodliness, and their word will spread like cancerâ€? [2 Tim. 2:16-17].
Pleasantries, guarded politically correct expressions, and psychologically soothing platitudes all betray that the salt has lost the biting tang of its flavor, for which sugar can never be an adequate substitute.
Of what use are these bandages to hearts ravaged by tentacles of iniquity entwined about the very fiber of life? Rather, they further the devastating progress of that deadly malady.
Brethren, are we qualified to be accounted the salt of the earth? Are we actively bringing the perishing to the Lord Jesus Christ who alone can affect the soulâ€™s cure?
â€œDeliver those who are being taken away to death, and those who are staggering to slaughter; Oh hold them back! If you say, â€˜See, we did not know this,â€™ Does He not consider it who weighs the hearts? And does He not know it who keeps your soul? And will He not render to man according to his work?â€? [Prov. 24:11-12].
May we testify in sincerity and truth along with Paul: â€œBut having the same spirit of faith, according to what is written, â€˜I believed, therefore I spoke,â€™ we also believe, therefore we also speakâ€? [2 Cor. 4:13]. May the Lord help us each one to so believe and so to speak as we pray for one another.
After several weeks of promising, the wives of the seven brethren meeting in Tekeyeh village joined with their husbands in fellowship this past Sunday as Quintin and Kono boy [a converted young man here in our place whom Quintin has been discipling] brought the Word of life to them.
Do pray that these who have abandoned Islamic and traditional African religion might grow in grace and truth. None of them can read and their knowledge of the Scriptures is from what they obtain from brother Quintinâ€™s ministry.
We are endeavoring to put a variety of verses onto cassette in the Temne and Mende languages, covering a comprehensive spectrum of what the Scriptures declare about God, Christ, the way of salvation, and the principles of godly living. In this way, those who cannot read can listen repeatedly to the Word of God and memorize it in their hearts.
The difficulty, as always, is in finding faithful men who know both English and the dialects well enough to do this effectively. This has been our on-going request for the entire year that we have been â€œin the bushâ€? â€“ faithful men who are devoted to the Lord Jesus and are committed to preaching the Word with ability in the local language. Do join us in these prayers.
I have added a weekly prerecorded Bible message to the monthly two-hour live call-in question and answer broadcast we do in Bo, the second largest city in Sierra Leone. These broadcasts reach all of the southern part of the country as well as portions of Freetown.
Our last session had numerous callers inquiring about the way of salvation and how eternal life can be obtained. Even one Muslim Alhaji asked who Jesus was and how he can be saved from his sins.
We truly thank God as the gospel of grace was proclaimed once again with the assistance of brother Foday who simultaneously interpreted into Krio over the air.
By the first week of February I was able to complete Phase 1 of Workers Unashamed (see note across column), a three part Bible training curriculum designed to take a person from conversion to a comprehensive grasp of the Word of God, and into spiritual maturity and usefulness in the kingdom of Christ. We believe that it will be most useful in providing a framework for African believers to train up their own disciples in various parts of the continent.
I am providing a copy for brother Akinola here in Freetown, who is leading the deaf church here. We trust that it will be a real blessing to these who are unable to benefit by oral ministry through the teaching of this dear brother. He regularly attends the Bible study that Peters and I teach each Saturday in Freetown, and we alternately take notes for him as he follows along in his Bible.
We are planning on bringing a training session on preaching to Muslims later this month among the churches in the Port Loko district here in the provinces. There has been interest expressed and it will be profitable for the believers to be equipped to proclaim the gospel in this Islamic dominated region.
Do continue to pray for us that we might conduct ourselves in a manner worthy of the Christ of God, who is working in us both to will and to do for His good pleasure.
Steve and Patti