“What a Fowl Chases in the Rain...”
By Awake! correspondent in Nigeria
WHEN our small congregation in southern Nigeria received its supply of the tract Kingdom News No. 34, which was distributed worldwide, we were eager to take copies to all parts of our territory. That was not an easy task. Within our territory are farm camps, which grow cassava, yam, and other foods. These camps are located deep in the tropical rain forest. Reaching them would be difficult but by no means impossible. After all, God’s will is that the good news reach all sorts of people, even farmers in the jungle.—1 Timothy 2:3, 4.
So, on October 16, 1995, 18 of us set out at 7:30 a.m. for a farm camp named Abomgbada, a distance of about two miles [3.5 km]. Partway, we had to wade across a stream. The water was waist high.
To reach another camp the same day, we had to ford a bigger stream. This time, only four brothers and a sister crossed it. The rest of the group stayed behind.
We found many a listening ear that day. Adding to our joy was what we called our bush allowance. As we went along, we picked and ate some fruit that grew in the wild. We met hospitable farmers who appreciated our efforts to reach them; they gave us oranges to quench our thirst. We contacted about 250 people, distributing all the tracts we had with us.
A Major Challenge
The real challenge came two days later. Seven miles [12 km] out was Ose Anasi, a camp that has probably never been reached through organized preaching. Some had reservations about going there. The crossing of the Urasi River was risky, and many of us could not swim. Wading might be dangerous because of sharp tree stumps. Muddy areas would be slippery, and falling down could cause injury. Some of the handmade bridges were not strong. There were snakes, crocodiles, and streams infested with leeches.
Sixteen of us decided to go anyway. We walked for about a mile [1.5 km] before boarding a canoe to cross the swift and dangerous Urasi River. To reach the canoe, we had to descend a steep hill. It was the rainy season, and the river was at flood stage. The entire area has clay soil; and in the rainy season, it is very slippery. When we got out of the canoe, we discovered that the footpath had become a stream that was three feet [1 m] deep in some places. That was when our real troubles began.
We waded along this stream path for about 30 minutes. The ground was so slippery that many of us fell into the muddy water, drenching our Bibles, magazines, and tracts. We were in good spirits, so that when anyone fell, we would all have a good laugh, including the one who fell.
As we crossed one small stream, leeches attached themselves to our legs. One young sister on whose leg a leech fastened itself let out a tremendous shriek. She was still shouting after the leech had been removed. That too we took in good humor as part of the adventure, and we continued on our way.
At another stream crossing, one brother decided not to wade through as the others did but to leap across. He succeeded with the water but not with the mud. He slipped, then fell flat in the mud. He got up, examined himself, found that there was no injury, and then said: “No problem; it’s part of the experience.” We recalled that the apostle Paul also met up with “dangers from rivers,” probably much greater than those we faced.—2 Corinthians 11:26.
We crossed a handmade bridge, which looked dangerous, but all of us managed to cross it. After that the area became more slippery, so that falls were more common.
With us was a regular pioneer brother who is almost 70 years old. That morning he had come out to wish us well on our trip. But after we prayed for Jehovah’s blessing, he asked: “How can I stay behind while you are out preaching?” He insisted on coming along, and nothing anybody said would make him stay behind. He said that Jehovah would be with him. So he came.
When he fell flat on his back on the slippery ground, there was no laughter. Concerned, we asked if he was hurt. He replied: “No. I took time to fall so as not to injure the ground.” We laughed with relief and remembered Isaiah 40:31, which says that “those who are hoping in Jehovah will regain power.”
Finally we reached our destination. The response of the people was most encouraging. One man became afraid when he saw us approaching his hut, but on learning who we were, he said: “I find it hard to believe that you made that difficult journey just to preach to us. We appreciate it.” We replied with a local proverb: “What a fowl chases in the rain is important to it.” The man understood.
Another farmer said: “If preaching has reached this place, that means that salvation has reached us.” Many had questions, which we answered. They asked us to come again, and we promised to do so.
In Ose Anasi we placed about 112 tracts—all that we had. Altogether, we witnessed to about 220 people.
On our way back, we got lost. To retrace our steps to the camp would have taken an hour and a half, and night was fast approaching. We offered silent prayers to Jehovah and decided to go ahead, though that meant wading through a menacing stream that reached up to our hips.
After crossing, we found our way and discovered to our amazement that we were now four fifths of the way home. Our getting lost had turned out to be a shortcut that reduced our journey by at least an hour! Of course, all of us were happy and thanked Jehovah. As the sun was setting, we arrived home—tired and hungry but very happy.
Later, as we talked of the experiences of the day, one sister said: “I have heard stories about the place, so I knew I was going to fall. If it were not for the good news, I would not have gone to this place, not for all the money in this world!” One brother exclaimed: “At last the good news has reached Ose Anasi!”
[Pictures on page 23]
Crossing a local bridge
We crossed many streams infested with leeches
At the bottom of this hazardous trail, we boarded a canoe to cross the Urasi River