From Cabenda to Mukimoika

Adapted from The Word, Work, and World, June 1885


Today, the C&MA national church in Republic of the Congo has several thousand members. Scores of African believers meet with Alliance missionaries, committing to plant churches among unreached people along the Congo River . . .

Last November we left New York with the intention of planting a mission in one of the most healthy places on the coast of Africa—Cabenda [now spelled Cabinda], situated 47 miles north of the mouth of the Congo River.

Arriving on February 4, we went ashore to . . . see about buying land and were much surprised to find that land could not be obtained. [T]he chiefs . . . went so far as to refuse to allow us even to put up our tent for one night. [O]ur only course to pursue was to . . . leave for the Congo River and remain at one of the mission stations until we obtained land.

On . . . Wednesday, . . . going ashore early in the morning, . . . we succeeded in obtaining 10 carriers who were to go as far as Vesta, two-thirds of the way to Banana, for four longs of cloth apiece. . . . At 5:30 p.m. . . . we started for the large village of Pova Grande, seven miles distant, where we were to stop over night. We could not buy any provisions in Cabenda, and we went forth depending on God to supply all our need.

Arriving at Pova Grande, Suza, our headman of the carriers, found a place to spend the night. . . . [W]e slept well until we were awakened by Suza shouting at our door at 4 a.m.: “White man, what time is it?” Looking at our watch we saw that we had to be up immediately or it would be almost too warm for marching. At 5 a.m. all was ready, and each man having his load of 50 pounds, we started for Cabalumba eight miles away.

It was too early to buy chop [food] at Pova Grande, so we marched until after seven o’clock without anything to eat. Arriving at Cabalumba we shouted to the natives “chop, chop,” and seeing that we had barter stuff with us, they brought their eatables to sell. . . . We rested at this village until 3:30 p.m., it being too hot to march in the sun before that time. Six hours later we arrived at Vesta after a long walk, eight miles of which was on the sand.

Here we met . . . Mr. Cramer, who is in charge of the Dutch trading house at this place. We enquired of him if he could give us accommodations for the night, and in less than half an hour we had our goods all in one of his houses . . . and were once more enjoying the privilege of having a good bed to lie on. . . .

We were much surprised after breakfast when . . . [Mr. Cramer said] that he would not charge us anything for our accommodations. Knowing that he had a freight boat going to Banana, we asked him what he would charge to take our things on the boat as we knew she would be there almost as soon as we would. We were much more surprised when he told us he would not charge us anything. For his kindness, we thanked him very much and praised the Lord.

About 10 o’clock we started after having paid our 10 carriers who came from Cabenda. We made frequent stops as it was too warm for walking in the sun. At 1:30 p.m. we came to the village of Moanda, where we saw an idol in a small hut built especially for it. It had many nails driven in it as the natives put one in for everything that they lose. Here we were much refreshed by some good drinking water, the first good water that we had got in any of the villages. . . .

[O]n the evening of the same day (Friday) we arrived at Banana after a walk of nearly 50 miles. . . . We went to the trading houses . . . to get accommodations for the night, but it so happened that they were all full. . . . In answer to prayer the captain of the Dutch sailing vessel Helios gave us a place to sleep on board his boat, which was lying in Banana Creek. . . .

Strange to say, yet not strange, for we believe it was ordered of God, the row boat belonging to the mission station at Mukimoika, 17 miles away, happened to be at Banana. Knowing that we wanted to go to one of the missions, the agent of the Dutch House told us that if we wished he would send us over in a sail boat with our goods to the mouth of the Nkengi Creek, on which the mission is situated, and we could go the rest of the way in the mission boat.

About one o’clock we started, and in a few hours were stopped by a thunder storm. We waited until it was nearly over and got into the rowboat about five in the afternoon, expecting to reach the mission in an hour or two as we were right opposite the mouth of the creek, but on the north side of the Congo so that we had to cross it. The current was very swift, and it was after 10 o’clock at night when we entered the mission.

Here we received a warm welcome from the missionary in charge. . . . He invited us to stay until we obtained ground and offered to assist us. We have since then done all we could to obtain a site somewhere near Banana but . . . all the land below Vivi [first capital of the Congo Free State], near the first falls, has been bought by the traders. Two of the party have gone up river, while the other three have been quietly waiting at Mukimoika. . . .

At the present time among the 50 million living in the Valley of the Congo, there are only 37 missionaries, nearly all of whom are laboring below Stanley Pool, while there are millions in the vast interior for whom Christ died, but who have as yet never heard of Him.

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Editorial Paragraphs

We deeply regret to record the return of three of the missionary party from Central Africa and the death of John Condit, the leader of the little band.

As our readers are aware, they left England about the first of January and reached Cabenda, their destined field, early in February. After brief negotiations with the chiefs, . . . they decided to leave Cabenda and find a location on the Congo River. This, we are now satisfied, was a serious mistake and the beginning of all their subsequent trials. . . .

Marching on to Banana, they remained for some time with the Baptist missionaries in that vicinity, from whom they received great kindness; but, failing to obtain a suitable location, they sent part of the band to Vivi. . . .

Meanwhile, John Condit, who had remained at the lower station, took the fever. . . . [H]e consented to take quinine and other remedies; but all were unavailing, and the brave and ardent young heart is at rest on his Master’s bosom, having given all he could—his life—for Africa, the land he loved so well.

—The Word, Work and World, July/August 1885

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