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The Presbyterian of the South : [combining the] Southwestern Presbyterian, Central Presbyterian, Southern Presbyterian. [volume] (Atlanta, Ga.) 1909-1931, August 01, 1917, Image 6

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Persistent link: https://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/10021978/1917-08-01/ed-1/seq-6/

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Women's Societies
Presbyterian Pioneers in Congo
This is the title of a very remark
able book just from the pen of that
remarkable man, Uev. W. H. Shep
pard, D. D., one of the two founders
of our Mission in Congo. Dr. S. H.
Chester, in introducing him on one
occasion, called him "perhaps the
most distinguished and certainly the
I I^B^? I
l.ukuHii, l.nter Culled "Dick," the
Klr*t Cunvert lu the Kanul
Iteulon, ii nil the Klr?t Mem
ber of the J.uelio I*rewtiy
terlnn Church, Received
April, 1N#5.
most widely known minister of our
Southern Presbyterian Church. For
one thing, he is the only minister on
our roll holding a fellowship in the
Royal Geographical Society of Lon
don." His fellow-pioneer, Rev. S. N.
Lapsley, spoke of him as "made of
the King's own gold."
In this book he has given in a most
fascinating way an account of some of
his experiences during his twenty
years of work in the Dark Continent.
The book is written in a style that
is wonderfully attractive. One of its
striking characteristics is its concise
ness, and yet perspicuity is never lack
ing. His descriptive powers are such
that his reader easily sees whaWver
he is describing. In most unexpected
places a gleam
of the most na
tural humor
gashes out. All
through his
book Dr. Shep
pard shows the
tenderest love
and greatest ad
miration of and
loyalty to Mr.
Lapsley.
A few ex
tracts from the
pages o f this
book will give a
better idea of it
than anything
we can write.
In giving an
account of the
first experience
that he and Mr.
Lapsley had
with the Congo
River, he says:
"The moaning
of the seething
sea serpent can
bo heard a mile away, lleing ig
norant of its great drawing power,
we tried to cross the river 1500 yards
above. In spite of our desperate ef
forts to reach llie north bank, we
were drawn in as a floating stick. We
spun round and round like a top, the
boat all the time at an angle of about
forty degrees, till we were dizzy. Na
tives on shore informed the other
missionaries of our perilous predica
ment. We thought of our watery
graves, and all of our past life Hash
ed before us. "Oh! save us. Master,
or we perish,' we prayed. In a mo
ment, as if miraculously, the seething
cauldron ceased for a second, and by
an awful struggle for life, we rowed
out and landed, to the delight of the
excited crowd."
In speaking of some of the experi
ences of their first trip up the Congo,
he gives this incident:
"When we were about live miles
from our last camp one of our canoes
was swept by the strong current un
der a low-lying limb and our man
Mumpuya was knocked overboard. lie
swam ashore and was caught by the
natives in the jungle. Hearing his
screams for help, our canoe was
quickly ashore, and we were out and
to the rescue. Through the high
grass and jungle we chased the na
tives, who seemed determined to carry
him off. One of the natives raised a
spear to throw, but we were too quick
for him, and with Mumpuya we were
soon again in our canoes."
When they reached Stanley Fool,
above the falls, they secured passage
on a little steamer, which took them
up the river 800 miles from civiliza
tion, or anything connected with it,
and 1,200 miles from the coast. Can
we imagine the feelings of Lapsley
and Sheppard, a3 this was written in
his diary as the boat left them for its
return trip?
"Captain Galhier, on his departure
assured us that he would be back
again in nine months. At this point
we are 1,200 miles from the coast
and 800 miles from the nearest doc
tor or drug store, but we were conv
forted by these words: *Lo, I am with
you alway.' "
Here is their first experience at Lu
ebo:
"We pitched our tent in an open
KI?K l.ukenfCft'H Sprclal Mnllrlap Men.
Wm. II. Shrpiwrd anil Mrx. Shrpp nrtl.
space between the forest on the north
side of the I, ulna lllver. The natives
from a nearby town came swarming
around to see the faces of the new
comers. They were well armed with
bows, arrows and spears, but we put
on our broadest and best smiles. A
little excitement was raised and they
all ran off to their town.
'The darkness of the night added
fresh fears. We could hear the howl
ing of the jackals in the jungle and
the hooting of the owls. Mr. Lapsley
on his couch wa^ sobbing audibly,
and so was I. So far from homo, with
thousands of people and yet alone, for
not a word of their dialect could we
speak. About 5 o'clock in the morn
ing how our hearts were cheered
when we heard the chickens in the
town crowing.
W e laughed
hoartily and
said/ 'Well,
there is one
language w e
understand, for
the roosters
crow i n the
same language
as our Ameri
can roosters.' "
, Many of us
have found it
jvery difficult to
learn another
language when
wo have had grammars, dictionaries,
and other hooks innumerable. Let us
try to put ourselves in the place of
our Congo pioneers.
"Of course, they had no written
language. We went into the town
nnd with pencil and hook in hand
pointed at objects. For instance, a
goat, and they called out the name,
'mhuxi'; pointing to a chicken, they
in turn called out 'nsola'; to a per
son, they called out 'muntu.' To get
the plural we stood two people to
gether, and they said 'bantu.' There
was not a book in all the region. They
had never seen a book, nor a piece of
paper of any description."
It was not long af
t e r they began to
learn the language
before they were
preaching the goHpel
to those who had al
ways been in the
darkness of heathen
ism. Great was their
joy when there was
the fi r s t evidence
that light was begin
ning to penetrate the
darkness.
"One day, as Mr.
Lapsley's face w as
shining with divine
brightness, and as he
was putting his
whole soul into his
sermon on God's love,
to a large crowd of
natives, a woman who
was the leader of the
town dances was so
deeply touched that
she arose, stretched
forth her long arms,
and said distinctly
and earnestly, 'Why,
Mr. Lapsley, if we
had known God loved
us we would have
been singing to Him.'
Mr. Lapsley was so
overcome that he
could say but little
more. The Holy Spir
it had made a deep
impression on Malem
ba's heart, and she
was almost yielding.
"The Missionary of Jesus went
back to his humble hut with a heart
overflowing with gratefulness and Joy
for this first ray of divine light. He
was restless and slept but little. At
midnight he was communing with his
Lord, and said, 'We thank Thee, our
heavenly Father, for this the first ev
idence of Thy favor.' "
Lapsley was called to go back to
the coast to transact some business
with the Government officials. For
nearly four months Sheppard was
alone. Then came the heart-breaking
news that God had called Lapsley
home. Where can be found a more
pathetic expression of love and sor
row than these words of Sheppard in
a letter to Lapsley's mother?
"My friend and brother has gone to
I.iipxlcy Mrmorlnl Church. Ilmnjr.
be with Christ, and I shall see him no
more. No more kneeling together in
prayer! No more planning' together
future work! His work is done, and
he is now blest with peaceful rest.
Oh, that I could have nursed him!
That I could have kneeled at his bed
side and heard his last whispers of
mother, home and friends. 'This Is
my sorrow, that I was not by his side
while he fell asleep. I know that
your heart Is breaking. I wish I
could say a word to comfort you. Lit
tle did you know that his farewell was
forever. But he shall be standing at
the beautiful gate waiting for you.
We shall all soon join him where

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