by John O’Malley
Dear Missions Family,
While reading a commentary on Romans, I thought to share this account from Donald Grey Barnhouse, onetime pastor of the Tenth Presbyterian Church in Philadelphia. He was told a story by a missionary in western Africa. The account illustrates the heart of one gripped by a passion for spreading the gospel.
“It seems that an African man who had become a radiant Christian believer was also afflicted by the dreaded elephantiasis disease. This loathsome condition hardens and enlarges the flesh of the lower legs and feet so that they often appear as solid columns of flesh from the knees down, sometimes twelve to fifteen inches in diameter. It is a painful and restrictive condition, making simple walking a laborious challenge. But the man was so appreciative of the grace of God that had come into his life that he thought nothing of the pain of his condition. He went from hut to hut in his west African village, sharing the good news of the gospel, knowing that none could believe unless they heard the gospel. He shuffled and hobbled on his afflicted limbs day after day until all had heard the good news.
Once he had evangelized his entire village, he began a painful, daily trek to a village two miles distant, not being able to bear the thought that some were there who had not heard the gospel of the grace of God. He would start early in the morning and walk to the nearby village, go from hut to hut, then walk home. This process he repeated until every hut in that village had received the good news of the gospel.
With no one else to tell about Christ, he asked his pastor and the missionary about going to the next closest village, a larger village located ten miles from his own. They both discouraged him from considering the journey, given his condition. But one day, his relatives awoke to find him gone. It was not until later that the full story came out, related by the inhabitants of the distant village.
It took him until noon to traverse the ten-mile distance to the village, and when he arrived, his leathery stumps were bloody and swollen. Not wasting time even to eat, he spent the rest of the day in the village going from hut to hut telling people about the grace of God. The sun was setting when he set out for his own village. Somehow he made it through the pitch-black jungle, falling upon the missionary’s porch at midnight. The missionary, who was also a doctor, summoned help and they lifted the poor, semi-conscious man into the dispensary. The doctor related later how his own tears mingled with the salve with which he bathed the beautiful feet of this wounded gospel messenger. Without counting the cost to himself, this man lived out the word of the apostle Paul in Romans 10:14-16. Feet that in the eyes of the world could best be described as horrific had become the beautiful feet of one who brings the good news.”
When I read this account, I thought of you and your work in the gospel.
Thank you for going to the next village. Thank you for going the extra mile for the sake of the Gospel and His name’s sake. Thank you for bringing the gospel to where Christ is not named.
Yours for the harvest,
If this article has been an encouragement to you, you can email Bro. O’Malley here to let him know.