He Thought He Was A Failure After 17 Years of Service

He Thought He Was A Failure After 17 Years of Service

by Bill High

In 1912, Dr. William Leslie went to live and minister in a remote corner of the Congo as a medical missionary.  For 17 years, he labored.  He and his wife carved a rough patch out of the jungle to serve as their base.  They endured a hurricane, which struck the night before one of their children was born; they faced charging buffaloes and attacks of ants.  They lived among cannibals.

Their trips to surrounding villages seemed to be met with little success.  Finally, after a rift with some tribal leaders, they ultimately chose to leave the mission field—discouraged and believing their work was a failure.

Dr. Leslie died nine years later after his return.


The Rest of the Story

However, in 2010, a team of missionaries returned to the same jungles that Dr. Leslie had originally served in.  To their surprise, they found 8 villages with thriving churches.  In one village, they found a 1,000 seat stone cathedral; in the 1980s the congregation found themselves so crowded that they began a church planting movement.

When the tribal people were questioned about the origins of their ministry, they referenced Leslie, although they did not remember if it was his first name or last name.  The missionary team conducted research and discovered the ties to Dr. William Leslie and his wife.

The lesson: so often the things we see in front of us need time to develop and grow; that growth may not bring fruit in our lifetime but it doesn’t invalidate our original work.


Related posts:
Failed Legacy? He Gave His Life for a Tribe
“All I Want to Do is Change a City…”
The Overlooked Gift: The Missionary Life

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Published February 9, 2017

Topics: A Life of Faith


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