Missionary Keith Gustafson was forced to leave the Congo because of the civil war that erupted in 1997. He reported that as the fighting spread, people in the remote area where he lived knew that soldiers were approaching because of the message of the drums. Down the trails and along the riverbanks came the chilling drumbeat that warned of danger.

The drums of the Congo are also used to alert the tribes when there’s been a death, to announce a birth, or to call a meeting. They serve as a general news alert; a messenger follows up with additional information.

John the Baptist served a similar role. His calls to repentance, his baptisms in the Jordan River, and his scathing condemnations of the hypocritical religious leaders of Israel were early warning signals of important events to follow (Mt. 3). The bigger news of the ministry of Jesus the Messiah, concluding with His crucifixion, burial, and resurrection, was about to burst forth onto the Jewish scene.

We have the opportunity to deliver a news alert to the people with whom we come in contact every day. Our manner of speech and our moral standards can help prepare the way to share the gospel. We can follow up our general testimony with the specific message of the gospel.