In 1893, Dr. William Leslie, who had a great burden for reaching the people of the Democratic Republic of the Congo with the gospel, left his Pharmacy practice in Canada to go to the mission field. He began his missionary work at Banza-Manteke, but it was cut short by illness. After recovering, he married, and later returned to Africa, supported through the American Baptist Missionary Union, which had been established in 1814 by Adoniram Judson.
Dr. Leslie worked in Angola, and then for 17 more years in the Congo where he established a mission station at Vanga. He used a canoe to go back and forth across the river to get the gospel to remote villages. The Leslies left the Congo, discouraged and feeling like they had not accomplished much in their time there. He died nine years after their return home to Canada. In the ensuing years his name and his work was forgotten.
But then, in 2010, a team led by Eric Ramsay made a remarkable discovery. The got to the remote area of Vanga, and having heard of the Yansi tribe, they took canoes across the river and hiked 10 miles inland, finally reaching the first of many Yansi villages. To their astonishment, they found an entire network of churches! Each village had its own congregation complete with a gospel choir. These believers had previously been traveling to one central village weekly for services conducted in the first Yansi village where a church had been established nearly a century before.
There in this remote place, the Ramsay team found a church building which seated a thousand people! The overflowing crowds prompted the church and people to plant sister churches in all the surrounding villages. As Ramsay interviewed them, all the people could tell him was that long ago a man named Leslie had come and brought them the gospel. He had established an educational system and taught them to read and write in French. He’d given them a French Bible.
None of the Yansi people knew whatever became of Dr. Leslie. He died thinking that his work had been largely a failure. How pleased he would be to have known that thousands came to Christ, and thriving churches were serving God all those years later.
1 Corinthians 3:7, So then neither is he that planteth any thing, neither he that watereth; but God that giveth the increase.