Dr. Carl Becker watched his hometown of Boyertown, Pennsylvania grow smaller and smaller and eventually disappear as Leviathan sailed away on a mid-August day in 1929.
Thirty-five year old Carl was leaving a salary of $10,000 a year and exchanging it for $60 a week job in the Congo. He was traveling with his two daughters and his wife Marie. They had little knowledge of what was awaiting them on the other side of the ocean, but they were determined to make the best of it and win as many souls for Christ as they could.
When they arrived, Carl immediately set to learning the native language. The Hurlburts, a missionary family already settled there, shared their home with the Beckers while they worked on cleaning land for their own home.
Carl found that many of the natives suffered from pneumonia, influenza, bronchitis, and tonsillitis, and it didn’t take long for him to figure out why. The huts that the villagers lived in did not have chimneys to allow smoke to escape through, the livestock were allowed to roam in and out of the homes as they wanted, and the villagers wore little other than loin cloths even though the climate was quite cold at an elevation of 8,000 feet.
Despite the need, Carl found himself with very little to no business. He asked Paul Hurlburt about it one day.
“It’s the hold the witch doctors have on these people,” Paul said. “You’re a competitor, you know.”
“Do you think the witch doctors might stir up trouble for us?” Carl asked.
“I don’t know, doctor. But this area is a tinderbox. One spark could ignite the whole thing,” was the reply.
Shortly after that, Carl went outside his hut one morning and found a piece of bamboo filled with egg yolk, castor oil, and leopard hair – the sign of a witch doctor’s curse.
“All the Africans know that the witch doctor has put a curse on you. So they’ll be watching you closely from now on,” Paul told him.
Despite that, a few days later a Wanandi woman came to the Becker’s doorstep looking for the “white witch doctor.” After some work, Carl discovered that she had a serious hernia condition, one that needed to be operated on immediately.
A major surgery that needed to be done, without a proper facility, without a trained nurse, and without the proper medical equipment—all by a general practitioner who could conduct minor surgeries, but one of this size left him feeling woefully undertrained.
But he and Marie knelt in their little home and prayed fervently that God would guide them and that this would be the breakthrough that they needed to reach the Wanandi people.
Marie scrubbed their kitchen with antiseptic and prepared herself to step in as a nurse, and Carl prepared to conduct the surgery. Shortly after, the surgery was complete, and only time would tell if the woman would recover well.
Within a few days, the woman was well enough to return to her village and she eagerly spread the word of the careful care she received.
The Beckers prayers had been answered! The woman was well and natives from the village and many surrounding villages flocked to receive treatment from Carl opening the door for him, Marie, and the Hulburts to share the gospel of Christ in the hostile and tumultuous area.