Recently I was reading Norman P. Grubb’s book With CT Studd In Congo Forest, which is the account of the ministry of the Heart Of Africa Mission. This mission agency was started by Studd for the evangelism of Africa. Held within this book was the account of the ministry of James Lowder. After some research, I realized that although Lowder had a phenomenal ministry, little had ever been written about him. He was a man who was consumed by a passion for souls. As we strive to reach the world with the gospel, I decided to write this article about Lowder to bring light to the many things that could be learned from his ministry.
HE TOOK THE HARD ROAD FOR SOULS
The story introduces Lowder as follows: ‘’A lean bearded man comes free wheeling down Nala’s palm avenue and swings off his cycle outside Bwana’s (boss in the native language, used endearingly for CT Studd) house. No porters, no baggage accompanies him. So fighting fit is he that even as many as four normal stages in one, bump, bump, bump over the yard wide native tracks, through forest and savannah, at a speed which would put most Europeans on their backs with fever. It was a matter of deliberate training with him.” Lowder was known to drink his tea without milk, to climb across the thickest bush, and to sleep on the ground with no mat or blanket.
It amazes me to think that Lowder would travel with no baggage, on foot, treading through the mud and water to reach the next village for Christ. When conditions were lighter, he moved quickly because time equaled souls! We may live in a time where modern missions do not demand such primate and harsh conditions, but this mindset of doing whatever is necessary for souls should still be at our core.
HE INSPIRED OTHERS TO LOVE SOULS
George Ambrose, one of his early coworkers, said, “My short stay with brother Lowder has been an inspiration, for the work here is the result of his passion for souls, and it has been used by God to kindle within my heart a zeal to win souls such as I have never before experienced.”
Every time Studd would send Lowder a worker, the man would return from Lowder with greater love and vigor for reaching souls. The truth is that soul winning is not taught but rather caught. Jesus told His disciples to follow Him and he would make them fishers of men. They learned to catch men for the Saviour by following Jesus. Are your disciples learning soul winning by following you? We need more men and women proclaiming the gospel. This won’t happen with a soul-winning initiative. This will happen with discipleship and a man training emphasis. Every Christian should have somebody that they are training to tell people about Jesus.
HE TRAINED A NATIONAL
One of Lowder’s greatest accomplishments was training a national evangelist by the name of Kavirondo. Kavirondo would go out to the forests to preach for 5-10 days at a time. When he returned, he was never alone. Not only would he tell the stories of converts, but he would have a group of new believers who had joined him in his ministry.
In missions today, we need to remember that the greatest work we do is that of training converts to lead churches and to reach the uttermost. Lowder was a champion in the field of training. He sent out men to reach the parts of Africa that he could not. We need to be adamant about training and discipling men who can keep the local church alive past our lifetime.
HE WAS TIRED FOR OTHER SOULS
It was said that when you received a letter from Lowder reporting the work that God was doing in the bush, the letter would begin like this: “I am too tired to write a proper letter.’’ This was because Lowder and his evangelist were known to preach twice a day and witness to people throughout their trek. If they weren’t preaching, they were trekking through the forest in efforts to find the next preaching grounds. The only rest he received was when they took short moments to lie on the ground.
Winning souls does not only take inspiration but also perspiration. Long hours and hard work are part of the cost. Whether it be hours laboring in a language, treks through villages, or the long process of starting a church, we must remember that labor will be required. The outcome, however, is the salvation of souls.
HE DIDN’T ALLOW CRITICISM TO STOP HIM
Lowder and his native evangelist saw thousands saved and baptized. Some weeks, over a thousand would make professions of faith. Because of these enormous numbers, he was doubted. Many thought that he was either lying or leaving behind many false converts. These accusations were proved to be false when churches were started by these new believers, and families began attending faithfully. Not only this but after being born again, many would burn all of their witchcraft belongings as evidence of new life. They brought forth fruits of repentance when they showed that they had turned from their old ways. Tithing was also something that the new churches of the Congo faithfully practiced.
But even with these signs of true salvation, many still believed that they were false converts. If you do something for God and see people saved, you will be criticized. The best thing you can do in those cases is to simply ignore the accusation, and continue serving the Lord. We have to remember that we are just a tool in the Master’s hand, therefore our success is only Christ’s success.
HE ALWAYS ASKED FOR MORE LABORERS
In his brief report letters, Lowder would never forget to mention the need for laborers. CT Studd sent most of his evangelists to help Lowder. When there was nobody left, he went himself.
This is my plea to you, friend! We need more laborers! For my field, Turkey, with 10 cities of over a million and 13,000 villages, we need more laborers. We need more laborers in Africa, a field ripe unto harvest. India, China, Pakistan: these highly populated nations need more laborers. Will you go? If you can’t go, what will you do to send a substitute? Who are you mobilizing for missions? You must go or you must recruit! DO YOU, LIKE LOWDER, HAVE A PASSION FOR SOULS?