or "How God's Love Reached a Little Congolese Girl Through A Missionary Lady"
I bring to you a real and true to life story of a little girl named "TSIANGA" (The name is spoken as if it were spelled "Chahnga").
Tsianga was born in Congo (later called Zaire, then the name changed back to Congo again). Congo, or Zaire, is in Central Africa. Africa has often been called the "dark continent." I don't know Tsianga's exact age when we first saw her, but she was born in the late 1950's or early 1960's I'm sure.
Many times there were tribal wars, or wars and unrest stirred up by political agitators and trouble makers. (This is still true in large parts of Africa, even today). During one of these disturbances her Mother and Father were killed, leaving her alone as an orphan, with no one to care for her.
I first heard of the little girl at our Mission Hospital from our young son, John Franklin. In the cool of the evening one day, (as I often did, usually in the company of my husband, Missionary James Dearmore) I walked up to the hospital and the "village" as we called it, and there was Tsianga. (We always walked holding hands, with the local's giggling about it).
Tsianga (pronounced "Chahnga") was lying on scraps of a cheap African blanket, and covered with a dirty, ragged cloth. She had no proper clothes, only rags around her thin and bony body. After treatment at the Hospital we learned she had TB (Tuberculosis is still a terrible disease in much of Africa, even to the present time).
Another disease prevalent in this area where we worked was leprosy.
I searched through my daughter's clothes, and clothed her, giving her also a proper African blanket. Also some of our mission supporting churches had sent over used clothing for helping people like this, and we later gave her some of these clothes as well.
On Sunday Morning at our Church services, Tsianga was present. She was soon regular in all services, and found the Lord there. As I said earlier, Tsianga, I soon learned, had tuberculosis as did many patients who came to our bush hospital. Many of the out patients at the hospital also had leprosy which, while controllable now, is still incurable.
It was a challenge for survival for anyone living in this country of Zaire, and especially far out in the bush where we worked and built the mission, schools, churches, and trained African pastors and evangelists.
Some of the churches in America had asked what they could send to Zaire to help us, and soon they had sent Barrels and Barrels of used clothing for us to give out to our people. As in the case of Tsianga most had only rags and wore these ‘til they literally fell off.
When we got in a shipment of these used clothes from America, on a Saturday we would have our people come to the house and we would give out to one and all, Christians and non-christians alike, some of the clothing. Every face was filled with smiles; men, women, children and little babies.
On Sunday Morning, from all over the "Compound" streams of men and women with babies and children came down the path to Church Services. The Church was packed and the Song Service was just beautiful. Most of the songs we sang were in the Kikongo language, with a few in Kiyaka language. (You can see a printed sample of these languages on the Dearmore's Gospel Web Site at: Kikongo and at Kiyaka if you have internet access.)
These African people can really sing from the heart. A heart of love reaches out to these people who have so little, many blinded by witchcraft, and by fear of the unknown. I often think of the verse " How can I sing the Lord's Song in a strange land ???
Oh, Yes! Yes, I can sing the Lords song, for the Lord gave me a song planted in my heart which stays even to this very day.
Food is a very serious problem in the remote African bush, even for many of the local people. During one of our furloughs in the States I had bought several packages of Okra seed and with the help of some of the ladies we soon had a very large garden of Okra growing when we returned to Congo. The okra grew very rapidly and well in the Congo bush soil.
The Africans loved it so much. I saved the seed and gave a lot of the seeds out to our women there at home base, as well as in the villages. There was fish from the river. We had acres of banana trees which we had set out to help feed the school children and which grew very well there. We also planted paipai, (similar to what is called "pawpaw" here in America). These fruits grow very large, and very fast in Congo, they grow on trees, and taste a "little bit" like Texas cantaloupes. But they're not nearly as sweet and good as proper cantaloupes.
There was also the locally grown manioc root for a starchy staple food, and this with other things helped to feed those at the hospital while we cared for their medical needs, taught the children in our Christian Schools, and carried on a constant loving witness to them about Jesus Christ, the Saviour of the world.
Out in the forest were many wild pineapples, palm nut trees, and a few other things which were edible, although not in great numbers or easy to reach. For our school children we went into Kinshasa and bought some fish hooks and some string and gave them out so that they would be able to catch fish from the big tropical river, (the Kwango River) which was right by the mission and main base school.
At the Mission we had the main school for the children, and Tsianga, when able, attended the chapel services. She cooked her own food in a clay pot. Many of the women out in the bush in the Congo used these home made clay pots for cooking food over open wood fires.
Each morning we had services at the hospital for those who were unable to attend the Church and Chapel services. We had regular Sunday School and Bible classes for the children. As time went by we traveled by boat upriver, stopping at villages along the way, often walking several miles inland to hold services. Here again we had many children attending as well as adults.
Other times we went in the truck to villages, often taking our Bible Institute Boys with us. These Bible Institute students did much of the singing, and my husband, Jim, did most of the preaching. The preaching was all done either in the Kikongo or in the Kiyaka language.
My heart went out to the women. They lived a very hard life . . . . and a great many women died in childbirth. Food was very scarce, especially meat or protein of any kind.
Having many converts, during our third year we had a Baptizing down at the river . . . everyone at the Mission attended, standing in the hot African sun. We soon began to have baptismal services every little while, as the Lord saved more and more of these Bayaka tribes people. On one of these special days we had 142 converts who were Baptized, in the Sukuku River, in one baptismal service. This was a very happy day for all, of course!
The Devil is ever present when God's people, are preaching and witnessing. Witchcraft was so strong among all the tribes in Zaire, including the Bayaka and the Baholo tribes among whom we worked most of the time in Congo.
As time went by, Tsianga seemed to be getting a little stronger, taking the medicine regularly for treatment of her tuberculosis, and with us helping her with food and clothing from time to time when we could. The tribal people in Africa seem to have very little resistance to many diseases, especially tuberculosis. Much of this may be from their generally poor diet and often very poor living conditions, and lack of proper medical facilities and medicines.
But all too soon the time would come when we must return to America and our home church, and our Pastor, Brother Charles Thomas, wanted us to be at the Missions Conference. On the day we had to leave, we walked up the path toward the Air Strip to wait for the MAF bush plane to carry us to Kinshasa.
Hundreds of our friends, converts and students always escorted us to the airstrip when we were going away for a long time, like a furlough or deputation in the USA. On the way the women walked by my side and Tsianga held my hand . . . . I held her tightly, told her I loved her, and would return some day to see her again.
Tsianga hugged me tightly in return and said ‘she would not be there' - - As if she knew that she would be gone to be with the Lord before we got back from the USA. The plane carried us up and over the jungles and bush on our way to Kinshasa, and then came the overseas flight to America, where we were met at the airport by a large group from the Church. Soon after arriving in Dallas I received the notice --- my little friend, Tsianga, was now with the Lord.
Someday I expect to see her again . . . . this little African girl who touched my life and my heart so wonderfully. I pray this real life story will be a blessing to you who read it in knowing about this little girl in the African bush, who now "walks on that Golden Street!"
I hope this story also will bless many others, and increase their knowledge about missionaries, and their work on the missions fields of the world. I pray it will make many realize that it is not all just one glorious and happy adventure (though it often is a truly great and wonderful adventure with our Lord, serving Him anywhere at home or abroad)!
I hope it will also cause many to understand some of the "hum-drum" daily life of missionaries, especially in primitive areas such as many parts of the bush in Africa. The days, weeks, months, and years of quiet witnessing, trying always to show the love of God for mankind in our every day life. And doing this consistently, even under sometimes trying and difficult, even dangerous circumstances — Things like constant exposure to malaria, leprosy, tuberculosis, and hepatitis, sleeping sickness, snakes and other dangerous "creatures."
In addition, sometimes it is necessary for missionaries to live in what we Americans consider very primitive living conditions, such as poor housing, poor or even dangerous medical services, no regular electricity supply, no running water, no modern plumbing, difficulties in obtaining wholesome and healthful food, and constant exposure to the lack of stability and personal security which most of us enjoy in the USA without even thinking about it.
Pray for every true gospel preaching missionary, and particularly those supported by your own Church, whether they are in the USA or any where in the world, and pray for more workers in the harvest fields both here and overseas.