Minneapolis: Free Church Publications, 1964
(Later reprinted by Moody Press)
The back cover of this 175 page book expresses it well: ”The amazing biography of a man of God – Isaac Pelendo (1889-1969). Even before his conversion Pelendo believed that a teacher would come from a far country and teach him about God. From the moment of newborn faith, this amazing African Christian exhibited a ministry that can only be compared with that of the prophets and apostles. Evangelist, teacher, pastor and soul-winner, Pelendo not only believed that God could answer prayer but he repeatedly saw God do so.”
What makes this little book especially meaningful to Donna and me is that after we arrived in 1975 in the Ubangi in northwestern Congo we continued to hear African Christians speak of Pelendo, the evangelist who was used so mightily by God to open up the area to the gospel. Many of the villages in which Pelendo preached we were able to visit personally, and we saw with our own eyes how God had used him. There are now hundreds of evangelical churches throughout the Ubangi, an area about the size of the state of Iowa. Yes, God used the early missionaries, but even more so He used national Christians whose lives were changed by Him and who began to preach the good news of Jesus in their own languages everywhere they went.
The author of PELENDO: God’s Prophet in the Congo, missionary Alpha Anderson, writes with an intimate knowledge of the culture. Alpha was married to our first field leader, Dick Anderson, who retired shortly after our arrival. We were so privileged to get to know him and a few of the other early missionaries in the region of Zaire (now called the Dem. Rep. of Congo) where we served from 1975 to 1991.
This book is full of “power encounters” in which pagan villagers saw the triumphing power of the true God over their gods and fetishes. Pelendo trusted the Lord to do amazing things. (A power encounter has been defined as the confrontation which takes place between a believer, as God’s agent on earth, and demonic forces, much like those that Elijah had with the prophets of Baal on Mount Carmel in 1 Kings 18:16-45.)
One of my favorite power encounters in the book is when Pelendo was ministering in the village of Mondongo where the villagers were deathly afraid of a nearby “haunted” lake that they believed was inhabited by Belenga, a spirit who would be very displeased to have his abode disturbed by anyone. Nevertheless, Pelendo was not afraid. He went right from the village to the lake. He drank water from the lake. He washed in it. He caught fish in it. He even ate the fish he caught, and eventually he convinced a village boy to go fishing with him. Seeing that nothing happened to either of them, the villagers were convinced that the God of Pelendo was the true and living God, and many were converted to Christianity.
Pelendo was a big man, 6’5” in height, but his size was not what made him so courageous and bold. Pelendo knew he had a great God in whom he had complete trust. He demonstrated that faith even on several occasions when enemies tried to kill him.
Another thing about Pelendo that was a tremendous example to me and many others was his belief in the power of prayer. He prayed about everything, no matter how big or small. The author Alpha Anderson recounts a funny story in which Pelendo and another preacher by the name of Bwande were entrusted by missionaries at the outpost of Kala with a cat to take to missionaries who were plagued by rats at another post called Tandala. It was a long journey by foot. On the way the two men stopped for a nap with the cat in a homemade box which they put between them as they slept. Later when they awoke, to their horror the box was unlocked and the cat was gone.
Pelendo immediately prayed, “Oh, God, you who are Lord in heaven. The missionaries gave us this animal to care for, and we have watched over it carefully. Now he has slipped out of our hands and wants to run away from us. What will we say when we get to Tandala? How will we explain? It will be good, Lord, if you would send this cat back to us. Then we will know that you are traveling right along with us.”
After preaching in the village that evening and sleeping in a hut there overnight, the first one up the next day was Bwande. Here’s how the author explains the scene:
The village was still quite quiet when he pushed the bark door to one side and peered out into the dawn. In the dim light he saw an object moving directly towards him. From its hiding place at the edge of the brush, the cat had been watching for the first signs of stirring in the hut. Now the door was open and he came right for it. Pelendo, aroused by Bwande’s excited call, awoke just in time to see the cat sneak into the hut. “Thanks to God!” were Pelendo’s first words. “He has answered our prayer.”
There are many other such stories of the power of God in PELENDO: God’s Prophet in the Congo. Truly God is great, and His power was demonstrated in countless ways in the Ubangi so that thousands of villagers abandoned their old gods and turned to the living and true God who had sent His Son Jesus Christ to die on the cross for their sins.