Adventure In Africa: The Story Of Don McClure, by Charles Partee.
My husband Murray and I first read this book in the mid-90s. We loved it so much we talked about it and shared it with others. I recently found it again, and was once more deeply touched as I read it.
Don McClure lived as a missionary in Africa for nearly 50 years. This book, compiled by his son-in-law, is mainly made up of letters to his mother back in the US.
Don was born in 1906 and died in 1977. He was killed by guerrillas, stealing from him, during conflict in the country where he then served in Africa.
Don enjoyed life and had an active, often self-mocking, sense of humor.
He first came to Africa in 1928 as a school teacher. He had to pay for his own Arabic language teaching, and at first he said his communication with the people was accomplished by signs and wonders. “I make signs, and they wonder what I mean.”
When a student asked if it was expensive for Don to get his bright red hair, he said yes. He rolled up his pant legs and told them it was even more expensive to get red hair on his legs.
Don met his wife, Lyda Boyd, as she was also in Africa as a teacher for a mission school. They had three children. Don was filled with joy at the birth of their first child, Margie. He said she was almost as fun as a puppy.
Don had many roles during his years in Africa, but his main goal was evangelism. Don wanted to work with more primitive tribes in Africa who had not heard the gospel of Christ. He and Lyda were able to do this, because they were willing to live and raise their children in the same kind of house as the people they served; houses made with mud walls and a grass roof.
Don’s jobs in Africa included school teaching, veterinary medicine, agriculture, handyman, big game hunter, and more. He also served as “an unlicensed and untrained” doctor.
Many people were brought to him for medical care. He said, “If I don’t do it, nobody will.”
Don agreed that it was good to teach the people about better medical practices, and better agriculture and economics. But his main goal was evangelism, and he wanted to help the people to know Jesus and have a church which would fit in to their natural cultures. He did not believe in forcing them to form their churches according to strict American rules.
He talked about how in the schools they tried not to teach the students to take on white people’s clothing and traditions too much, since they’d have to go back to their villages and their ways.
Don was sure that the time would come when the foreign missionaries would have to leave Africa. He wanted to work as hard as possible to get the native people able to run their own churches, and keep the faith alive.
When Don and Lyda visited an area where they’d been years before, they were joyful to find a second generation of Christians coming up; children raised in Christian homes of those they had led to Christ, as well as new Christians led by the McClures’ converts.
Don told many colorful stories, some funny, some heart-breaking.
Once he was trying to help an injured camel and the camel bit him. The local people said his blood ran through the veins of the camel. And when that camel outlived his comrades, they said the camel would live as long as Don did. Don said, “I certainly wish him good health and long life.”
Once when the McClures were traveling along the river, Don said after dinner they got ready to take their evening bath in the river. He said he shot several times in the water to let the crocodiles know it was time for “our bathing,” not “their feeding.
Don said a crocodile came so close to him, he could look into the crocodile’s mouth. He said he felt that if he stuck his hand down its throat, he could have reached in, grabbed its tail, and turned it inside out.
He told of his fights with Satan, including fights with the witchdoctors and false gods.
With civil war in African countries, Don helped with refugees and moving rebels to safety, some from tribes he’d worked with before.
He discussed the many ways they traveled in Africa, driving and by boat, flying, some by crawling, sometimes by walking or swimming through sharp grass.
The McClures ended their work in Africa as volunteers. After reaching mandatory retirement age, they stayed on as volunteers to start a new program.
This book may be hard to find, but if you do, just reading it is an adventure.