Below is an excerpt from a book I’m writing called Adventures in Fishing (for Men). The book is a satirical allegory about Christian attempts at evangelism. He who has ears to hear…
Recently at my fishing club, we had a special presentation from a fisherman who had just come back from fishing in Africa. He said that fish there were so hungry, they would bite on anything! He went on to tell some miraculous stories about how he got special permission to fish in some tribal fishing waters, and how the biggest fish he caught was out of a little stream of water in central Ethiopia.
It got me thinking that to become a world-famous fisherman, I needed to do two things. First, I needed to actually go fish somewhere in the world. Africa would be great! Second, since I was having so much trouble catching fish here in the United States, maybe it would be easier to go to Africa where the fish were hungry and the streams weren’t so fished out. Here in America, all the fish know all the tricks of fisherman. Fish have seen and heard it all before. But if I went to Africa, I could catch boatloads of fish every day!
That afternoon, after I got home from the fishing club, I announced my plan to my wife.
“How are you going to pay for it?” she asked. That’s my wife, always putting a damper on things because of the money.
“The value of one fish is worth all the gold and silver in the world,” I responded. “What is a little expense to bring fish into the Creel?”
“That may be true,” said my wife. “But you are going to need some of that gold and silver to buy yourself a plane ticket to Africa. After all you have spent on fishing so far, we are broke.”
She had a point.
But it didn’t take long for my crushing intellect to discern a solution. After the fisherman from Africa had spoken in our fishing club on Sunday, the club leader told us that we all should consider financially supporting the work of this fisherman in Africa. We could become a “donor” and receive special “Supporter Updates” from the fisherman about where he was going and what fish he was catching.
Why couldn’t I do the same thing? Why couldn’t I raise support and send out fundraising letters? My wife may be right that we did not have the money to send me to Africa, but I knew that where God guides, God provides. He was clearly sending me to Africa, and so He would also help bring in the money to get me there.
It really was quite easy. I wrote up an impassioned letter about the poor fish in Africa, and how I was going to go over them and help clean their water, give them food, and make sure the tribal warlords didn’t bring fish to extinction. Furthermore, I was also going to help the poor and needy people of Africa. Some fishermen only give one fish to the poor so they can eat for a day; I was going to teach them to fish so they could eat for a lifetime. Springs of living water were going to appear into the dry and dusty desert of the Sahara. I also promised to bring back an expensive souvenir from Africa for anyone who gave me a donation of $100 or more.
The money poured in. Before long, I had more than enough to send myself on a six week fishing trip to Africa.
When I arrived in Saharan Africa, my first shock was to discover that there was very little water anywhere. This was going to be a problem. How could I fish if there was no water? How could I teach anyone to fish if there was no water? What kind of report could I bring back to my supporters at home if I told them I just spent six weeks looking for water, but was unable to find any?
I needed a backup plan.
The first thing I did was send out another support letter. I revealed in the letter that the situation in Africa was more dire than I ever imagined. They had no water, and where there is no water, there is no fish. And if there was no fish, I could not teach them to fish. So we urgently needed more money—fast! I also told people to pray for rain.
Once again, the money poured in. The first thing we did with the money is build a giant above-ground swimming pool. It was pretty much just like the one I had back at my house, but much bigger. And since we had so much money to spend, we made this pool even fancier. We surrounded it with imported marble, lined it with gold trim, and erected a giant stained-glass fishing pole reaching up into the sky.
But there was still no water. The support team from back home must not be praying for rain hard enough. So I sent out a third support letter, full of pictures and images of the beautiful swimming pool we had built for the hungry and starving people of Africa. I impressed upon my supporters that before I could teach the Africans how to fish, we needed to fill the pool with water. And we were only going to use the best water for our African fishing hole swimming pool. We were going to import millions of bottles of Perrier sparkling water and dump them into our swimming pool. The people of Africa drank really disgusting water and there was no way we were going to put that in our swimming pool.
Just as before, the money poured in. We bought the Perrier and dumped it into the swimming pool. It was beautiful. The water sparkled in the desert sun and it looked like the perfect place to go fishing. So I announced to the poor people of Africa that fishing lessons would begin the very next day.
“How are we going to catch fish in a swimming pool if there are no fish?” asked one old man.
I laughed at him.
“That just shows how little you know about fishing!” It truly is amazing how backward and ignorant people are in third-world countries. “I know from my vast experience as an expert fisherman that before you can catch any fish, you must first learn how to fish. And that is what I will begin teaching tomorrow.”
But the next day when we all met at the swimming pool, it was empty! At first I accused them all of stealing the water during the night, but upon further investigation we discovered that the pool had sprung a leak and all the water had poured out into the desert sands. I blame the faulty African construction methods for this mistake. It was quite a disappointment for us all.
Thankfully, my flight back to the United States was the next day. I told the Africans to fix the leak and get more water, and then I would be back to teach them to fish.
Upon my return to the states, I went around to many fishing clubs praising them for their support of my fishing efforts in Africa, and telling them of the great success we had there. I gave many slide-show presentations. Somehow, I neglected to take any pictures of the drained swimming pool, and so that particular tragedy never made it into my otherwise glowing report.