Previous Challenge Entry (Level 2 – Intermediate)
Topic: ZEST (10/01/15)
TITLE: Leonard - the fisherman
By Lisa Enqvist
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Leonard was proud of his boat, though he had to create it from old packing cases and from left-over canvas from the tent he was not allowed to use any longer for preaching. The mast had also been part of his Gospel tent and the sails were from the tent roof. He was allowed to visit villages along the coast of the large Kunming Lake, even though the Communists had taken over the city. Yet the day came in 1950 when he had to leave his beloved China behind and join his family who had gone to Ceylon almost a year earlier.
Soon after he landed in Ceylon he made a new tent, bought a van (with a promise of paying it in installments when the family support arrived). Within two months he was on his way to win new souls in this new country – with tent loaded on the roof rack and the family and one or two interpreters packed inside the van. He was a fisher of men. He had no time to rest. A much-needed furlough forced him to leave the work in Ceylon and take his family home to a cooler climate. A few months later in Finland, he found his next ‘fishing vessel’. A former mine sweeper was being scrapped. He bought it, and with help from volunteers, he re-built it into a Gospel ship.
Along with a team of would-be missionaries Leonard and his family sailed the Gospel ship to Ceylon. The following fifteen years of his ‘fishing career’ along the coastal area of Ceylon, included numerous storms, resulting in umpteen repair-trips to South India, which were necessary to keep the ship afloat. None of the storms could quell his zeal. He used every opportunity to share the Gospel message with all he met, whether they were fishermen, customs officers, or policemen. Many were caught in the heavenly fishing net.
A larger vision drove him even further on. The boy from a small island off the coast of Finland longed to reach the unreached people on the many islands of Indonesia. He had left his homeland for China when he was just twenty. He was forced out of China when he was forty one. Indonesia called him when he was sixty two. The Gospel ship ploughed the seas and faced storms even there.
Finally the ship’s era was over. One terribly stormy night, the ship sank. All nineteen people on board were miraculously saved. (That’s another story). They were photographed when they were safe on shore after eighteen hours in a small boat. A random circle appeared above the group in one of the photos. It looked like a globe. Leonard saw the globe as a promise: “Now the whole world is open for us. We are not tied to a single vessel or method of work.” The fisher of men had not lost the vision, even though he had lost everything he owned in the shipwreck. He was 74. He traveled to different countries encouraging churches to continue reaching out to people with the Gospel.
Soon after his 80th birthday, lying on his deathbed, he still hoped to make one more trip to his beloved China. He took his final breath while his faithful wife sang the words of John 14:1-3 in Chinese.
“Do not let your heart be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in me. My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.”
Leonard’s fishing days were over.
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