“Dr. Becker, I recognize that fellow! He has a bad reputation. You shouldn’t trust him out of your sight!”
“Maybe so,” Dr. Becker replied, “but he’s one of our most trusted staff members now.” Then turning to the African in question he asked, “Why has your life changed since coming here?”
The man explained, “Many missionaries have preached Jesus Christ to me, and many missionaries have taught Jesus Christ to me, but in the munganga (healer) I have seen Jesus Christ.” Dr. Becker, the munganga, was known for caring for the poor and unloved as Jesus himself did.
Before he went to the Congo, Dr. Becker taught a boys’ Sunday school class where he influenced John B. Kuhn who later became a missionary to China. In 1929, Dr. Becker left his home and doctor’s salary to be a missionary in the Congo, 12,000 miles away. He became well known for his widespread medical work, his leprosy research, and his medical discoveries.
Dr. Becker understood that sharing the gospel required more than the right choice of Swahili words. The gospel needed to make sense in an African context. In the story of Lazarus, he depicted the rich man smoking his long pipe and sitting with his legs crossed in a chair in front of his hut. The Africans understood that only a very rich man would own a chair, and having his legs crossed indicated boorishness. When Dr. Becker taught Bible stories, he drew stick figures as visual aids. The Africans who could not read were thrilled and begged for copies so they could remember the stories. Dr. Becker saw them later using the stick figure pictures to accurately share the same stories.
Dr. Becker and his valued African staff often treated as many as 2,000 patients a day. But though very busy, Dr. Becker always took time to share the gospel. Once, a patient said, “This morning the evangelist talked so fast and my head went so slow. Do you have time to tell me more about Jesus?” Dr. Becker could hear the footsteps of a nurse in the hallway who doubtless had a question for him, and probably many other hospital staff needed him. There were other patients to see, an inspection of the leprosy camp to do, and letters to write; but he answered, “Yes, I have plenty of time to talk to you.”
The Bible tells us that we are to be Christ-like. Do we show Christ’s love as well as speak about it? Dr. Becker simply used his life to witness. It was evident to the people that Dr. Becker lived what he taught. He truly gave of himself to them. Are our hearts equally burdened for souls so that it is constantly on our minds to share the gospel?