Just recently the brethren asked me to hold an evangelistic effort in Southern Rhodesia, and give practical instruction to some of their native evangelists as to how to carry on the work. It has been very difficult to get our native evangelists to continue their efforts longer than two weeks. They find it hard to understand the necessity of staying by their work until the people are fully instructed.
I told the brethren that I did not want any equipment or any facilities better than what our African brethren would have when they went out to do the same kind of work. We located our camp about fifteen miles from the Lower Gwelo Mission, in a native reserve. With axes we cut the brush, and then we built a windbreak, or kraal, where the congregation could sit under the shade of the trees during the preaching service. We set a few forked sticks with poles across them as seats for the men, and covered the ground with grass for the women to sit on. Nearby we built two little grass huts. I lived in one of them, and in the other the four native evangelists made their abode.
My equipment was a Bible, two cooking pots, a camp table, and a camp chair. I rolled two logs into my hut and put a bedding of grass eighteen inches deep between them, and thus made an acceptable mattress. This I covered with my blankets. Then I hung up a mosquito net, and my bed was complete. In one corner of the hut we put in some shelves made from small sticks tied together with bark. There I kept my books, shaving kit, and toilet articles. In another corner I put shelves on which we kept our cooking pots, plates, knives, forks, and food supplies. I secured milk from a native chief nearby, and from one of our brethren who lived about five miles away. The natives were very good to bring me eggs, pumpkins, peanuts, corn meal, and other supplies such as they had. Once a week when the post arrived I received carrots, turnips, and a few other vegetables from the mission fifteen miles away.
The people told us that they could come to meetings better in the middle of the day than in the evening. Each morning from nine until ten I had a workers' meeting. At half-past eleven we started our song service, led first by one of the native pastors, and then by another. Each man led the music for a week. We selected hymns that would correspond in a measure with the subject to be presented that day. Our song service continued for a half to three quarters of an hour before the preaching service began. Then I spoke to the people for half an hour. After that I took time to answer questions on Bible topics that they wanted to have answered.
We visited in the villages each afternoon from two to six. One pastor took the villages to the west of our encampment, another went across the river and visited villages to the north, another went to the east, and another went to the south. There were three near-by villages in which I did my visiting; so I did not have so far to walk. I had another meeting with the workers from seven to eight in the evenings, when they reported their results.
At the end of the two weeks, when the natives would ordinarily have closed their work, two had accepted the message. At the end of the third week, fifteen more had joined us. At the end of the fourth week, thirty-eight more had taken their stand, and during the last two days of the effort, twenty-nine more joined the classes to prepare for baptism.
I believe that if it had been possible for us to continue the effort another week, we would have passed the one-hundred mark in conversions. One of those who accepted the truth was the leading witch doctor in that part of the country. This demonstrated to the satisfaction of the men working with me that we should ::tay by our work long enough to lead the people into the message. Those who have come forward will receive two years' instruction in the hearers' and probationers' classes. After that, if they have been faithful, they will be taken into the church.