Averil Perlmutter – Airdrie, South Africa Convention – September 26, 2001

Zimbabwe [formerly Rhodesia] is a somewhat circular country bordering South Africa, about 1,000 miles in diameter, with a population of 13 million. There is one English speaking convention [120-150 people] and two native [Shone] speaking conventions—one in the south [250 people] and another in the north [80 people]. All of the professing Shone people are very poor. Most walk one to two days to get to convention. Often only one parent can attend convention each year and usually one child goes with the parent. Frequently, children get only one convention while growing up.


The first colored man to profess in the country began listening to the gospel through the keyhole in a door. His mistress found out he was listening and invited him into the meeting room. This man’s Great Grandchild, a little 5 or 6 year-old girl named Bungi, as is the custom of the land, happily carried her little baby sibling bound to her back. “HUMBLE, CHILDLIKE CHRISTIANS ARE PREPARED TO DO LITTLE TASKS.”


Dillon, an only child, had been “the only pebble on the beach” for several years before brother Brian was born. However, Dillon was prepared to have the weaker, smaller, inferior Brian get all the attention. He was proud to put little Brian in the limelight and would say, “Look at Brian.” However when Brian would begin to cry he would call, “Mommy, come and help.” Are we a little jealous or put out when someone else gets a little attention or favor? “HUMBLE, CHILDLIKE CHRISTIANS KNOW WHEN TO ASK THE FATHER TO HELP ANOTHER.”


Benji, the grandson of the keyhole listener, was physically deformed — he had a large head and was unable to walk, but shuffled around slowly on the floor. He could not attend school, but he loved to sing the hymns and had a good voice. An offer was made to take Benji away to a boarding school where his voice would be trained so that he would be able to sing professionally, but he would not have ready access to meetings. The answer was no. “HUMBLE, CHILDLIKE CHRISTIANS KNOW WHEN TO SAY, ‘NO.’”


One day as Benji was on the floor, a cobra entered the room and came up to Benji. The grownups could only stand and watch because they knew that, if they became involved, the snake would certainly bite Benji. Benji just sat and watched the cobra until it crawled away leaving him unharmed. When there is wrong talk, evil, and slander it won’t affect us.  “IF WE ARE HUMBLE, CHILDLIKE CHRISTIANS POISON WILL NOT AFFECT US. JESUS NEVER EXPOSED JUDAS.”


Amanda was being disruptive in a convention meeting and her mother was unable to control her. Averil took her out of the meeting, gave her a smack, a sweet, and a hug, then brought her back into meeting where she sat quietly. Later, Averil felt very condemned. “What had Amanda told her mother? Would the mother be angry? Would the unprofessing father find out? Would the father allow workers to visit in the home anymore?” Averil went to the sleeping quarter to apologize. Little Amanda met her at the door with open arms and called her aunty. Better still, the mother came up and thanked Averil saying that she had been too sick to discipline her child. “HUMBLE, CHILDLIKE CHRISTIANS KNOW HOW TO TAKE CORRECTION AND NOT OFFENCE.”


Once when the twins were small, they were roughhousing in their room and accidentally knocked a picture off the wall and it smashed into a thousand pieces. They were afraid of the reprimand that would be coming from Bertha. That night Averil prayed earnestly that God would repair the picture. When she awoke in the morning the picture was still in a thousand pieces, but Bertha thought it had fallen off the wall on its own and there was no reprimand for the girls. ”HUMBLE, CHILDLIKE CHRISTIANS KNOW HOW TO ASK IN FAITH.”


Kola by the age of 5 years because of the varied cultures of his relatives, could speak 5 languages, accepted 5 different types of diets, and fit into 5 different cultures. “HUMBLE, CHILDLIKE CHRISTIANS KNOW HOW TO FIT IN.”


At 7 years of age Heather was daily telling Averil, “I love you so much that I will do anything for you.” After several days of saying there was nothing that needed doing, Averil responded, “Yes, there is something I would like you to do for me. See all the dirty dishes that your mother has piled up. Please wash them for me.” Heather answered, “I don’t love you enough for that.” “HUMBLE, CHILDLIKE CHRISTIANS WILL DO THINGS FOR CHRIST’S SAKE.”


There was a four-panel comic strip that Averil carried for years. In panel one, two little boys were fighting. In panel two, the boys were each separately talking to their fathers. In panel three, the boys were playing together. In panel four, the fathers were fighting. “HUMBLE, CHILDLIKE CHRISTIANS DON’T CARRY GRUDGES—THEY PUT IT RIGHT.”


Humility is better than capability.  May God help us to humble ourselves.