Momo

Momo

Mrs. E. Latkins, who was a missionary to the black men of the Congo in Africa, told this story of something that happened to her one day.

"I was rolling pie crust on the table on the porch of my bungalow. Suddenly, I looked up and saw a giant African, with big muscles, crawling on his hands and knees up the steps to the porch of my bungalow.

"On his cheeks he had the cut marks of the tribe of the Bambalas. His teeth were filed, showing that he belonged to one of the cannibal tribes. He was naked except for a leopard skin loincloth and his black skin was shiny in the hot sun. Never before in his life had this black man of the deep forest seen a pair of steps, so, of course, he did not know that stairs were made to walk up on with the feet. That was why he was crawling up on his hands and knees on all fours as you probably did when you were a baby.

"At first I was alarmed. Then I said boldly in the native language, 'What do you want?' The African said, 'I want a string,' and made motions with his hands. Confused, I asked, 'What kind of string do you want?' The man with the black skin said, 'I want a string with red dots on it.' I was even more confused. 'What kind of string is that?' I asked. 'The string your husband wears around his neck,' he replied. So then I knew, of course, that what he really wanted was the necktie that my husband wore. I thought it wise to refuse his request. 'Oh, no, I cannot give away my husband's neckties!' I said. But then I thought that perhaps I could help this poor black man in some way if I would ask him to give me something in exchange for the necktie. So I said: 'I cannot give you a necktie of my husband's unless you give me a chicken.'

"Now he wanted the necktie badly. His eyes brightened; he smiled and showed his filed teeth. He went away running. After a long time he came back with the chicken. I gave him the necktie with the red dots. He was so delighted he jumped up and down like a little boy.

"Then I said, 'Tomorrow is our worship day here at the mission. Why don't you come and hear my husband, who wears these neckties, talk about a man called Jesus?'

"Sure enough the next day, which was Sunday, there was Momo of the cannibal tribe of the Bambalas sitting up on one of the front benches in the thatched roof church wearing his leopard skin loin­cloth and nothing else except my husband's necktie with the red dots around his neck. Of course, he had not known how to tie it properly. But oh! he paid such close attention while my husband preached about Jesus!

"The next day I was much surprised when Momo came again to our bungalow. He said, 'I want to ask you more about that man, Jesus. Your husband talked about him.' I said, 'If you want to know more about Jesus you must come to our school and learn to read. Then you can read a book which will tell you about Jesus. But you will have to go to school with boys who are much younger than you, only ten to twelve years old.'

"Momo was a grown man, strong and muscular, a great hunter, but he said he would sit in the class with the young boys because he was so eager to learn to read the book about Jesus. He came to school faithfully and learned to read the Bible because he wanted to go back to his tribe of Bambalas to tell them about Jesus. Then he asked to be sent to a more advanced school at Kimpesi where he could learn to be a preacher and an evangelist.

"So Momo finished his work at the seminary. Then he was ordained as a minister and became an evangelist, traveling from village to village holding services for boys and girls and men and women, telling them the wonderful story of Jesus.

"Momo, who first came climbing on his hands and feet up the stairs to my porch, has climbed a long way up the stairs that lead to God. Now he is a happy preacher of God's love to those who have never heard the story of that wonderful man called Jesus."

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