Photos taken from our first recon trip to Bweremana and Nyangoma. We met with many pastors and community leaders to plan for upcomming trips there. This village has never seen a western missionary. It has experienced hardships and instability from the war over the past two decades. . . .
Hello everyone! Amethyst has been diligently posting blogs and I’m missing out on the fun! Well, here’s my first post of the season… hopefully it reflects everything my heart feels.
Today was the first day of ministry in the bush. It was a preparation trip for June when we’ll spend three days ministering there. As the crow flies, it is just across the lake, maybe 25 miles. But by car it is over 50 miles which doesn’t sound that far until you consider the terrain and it being straight mountains and the road seemingly goat paths. The drive takes around two hours aside from dealing with the provincial officials and their many questions.
We started off the day leaving Goma at 8:00 so that we could have enough time to make it there, dialogue and return before dark. Amethyst had purposed to make it but she wasn’t feeling well in the morning.
Nyangoma is a place very dear to our pastor, translator and key contact Pastor Paul as he was born and grew up here. On my way there Pastor Paul says, “We are going to my home town! There have never been any westerners to visit since maybe even the colonial times. I don’t think a westerner has ever visited.” (As a side note, remember when we were hit by the UN truck last year, it was when we were on our way to Nyangoma.)
While visiting, we inquired of the current situation in the region both spiritually and physically. There are so many needs. One elder spoke, “We have many people who are backsliding, even leaders. Many are hungry and have no means to get food. So they travel from far away and if people are hungry, how can they concentrate on the word of God.”
Another one commented, “The banana trees have a kind of disease that kills the bananas. The cassava plants are infected with a disease that kills those crops. We are having a difficult time.”
Others gave more physical problems that need to be addressed. Then they started to talk about some of the spiritual needs and possible seminars. The elders expressed a need for a meeting with the whole church talking about revival, addressing unity and encouragement. Also, they suggested four types of sessions: youth, couples, women and leaders.
Everyone was very happy to receive us. It felt like a homecoming as it was Pastor Paul’s home village. What blessed me the most though was to see the house that Pastor Paul grew up in, the house he built as a young man and sharing traditional Congolese food with the pastors.
Word’s can’t describe how blessed I was to minister to these desperate people and how excited I am to return but the next time with Amethyst and Samuel (our good friend and great man of God who will join us for the most part of June.)
By the world’s standards, it was just another westerner traveling to a remote area of a war torn country to a place that doesn’t even receive any non-government organizations or aid. But spiritually, it was the laying of a long-term foundation that could’ve never been accomplished without the Holy Spirit working.
I left the main leaders meeting with a statement, “Man is not your provider, it doesn’t matter if they’re Congolese or western, it doesn’t matter! But God is your provider and I will believe with you for God to do a marvelous work!”
Everyone smiled and nodded. I hope today that God smiled and nodded. Not for my own benefit but for the benefit of the Congolese. Please join us together in believing for God to something mighty! I know God wants to release His spirit and meet the physical but more importantly the spiritual needs.
Thoughts from Andrew Roth . . .
Well Amethyst and I have arrived to the Congo with relative ease despite having flown on five different flights, driven in four different vehicles spanning over three days (if you count how the world spins.) Last year we left a post entitled, “The Congo is Different.” May we, for lack of creativity, borrow an old title for a new post.
We have found many things the same just as we have left them… the city has not much changed other than the pot holes have grown wider and deeper. Otherwise, the internet is still slow; the buildings are much the same; many of the organizations have remained. Life continues on. Our friends have been eager to see us. Many have fasted and prayed for our journey back to the Congo and for the ministry while we are here.
But, many things are different. One small point is that Weebly, our web host has been blocked in the DR Congo. For a country with so many issues and a developing government, why block a simple web host? That means we have to figure out a plan to get a different web host and also figure out how to make a new blog site with dismal internet connections at best. Pray that this issue gets resolved.
The Congo is also different mainly if you travel just five kilometers outside of the city. What once were acres of internally displaced people (IDP) camps are now nothing more than rubbish. Where was this in the international news? Just a few weeks ago the Congolese government shut down 95% of all the IDP camps within the North-East in an effort to show that peace is returning to the Congo. This means over 100,000 IDPs now called returnees were forced to return to their home villages. The war is still going on and the lives of the IDPs have gotten worse as they are living in conditions worse than in the IDP camps. Now, they’re living in shelters similar to the IDP camps but in an active hot zone without the support of the United Nations or any other aid organization.
Furthermore, the way that they were forced to leave is an outcry. As sources of ours have said, they stopped giving the IDPs any food, water or assistance for many weeks and then the Congolese government went in and said that they must leave the camp as it will be deconstructed. They were instructed that they must return to their villages! Most of these IPDs left their villages because the rebels burned their village and have now occupied that territory. More on this to come.
This gave us a major curve ball! We have searched every major news agency for articles about the Congo but none have told of this major development. As we continue to make ministry arrangements for the upcoming weeks and months please join us in prayer for direction and guidance for what to do.
We are settling down and getting acclimated to Congo. Our bodies are slowly adjusting to the new time zone. Strength is returning after a tiresome itinerary. As we go forward, we are still in the process of arranging accommodations for our long-term stay. Pray that the Lord works out all of these logistics. Also, pray that the remaining funds for a vehicle come in! Glory to God!
We know that Jesus is with us despite not having our long-term accommodations, logistics and detailed ministry plan all finalized. These next couple of days are where the real work begins in finalizing these details which could not otherwise have been done besides getting here on the ground.
So here is your cue to hit the floor and start praying open the heavens!
· Pray for Amethyst as she is taking two online courses and that she will get nothing lower than a B+ in both of the classes. Her scholarship depends on it! The internet is sometimes unreliable. Pray for a stable and reliable internet connection and grace from the teachers should there be internet failure.
· Pray for the Lord’s guidance as our accommodations, logistics, ministry plans and everything else is finalized. We need the Lord’s wisdom, knowledge and revelation to be effective and strategic.
· Pray for both God’s favor and protection upon us as we go and minister bringing the word of God, praying for the sick and that they would be healed both spiritually and physically. Pray that we will display Jesus to everyone we encounter.
· Pray for the Congolese that have returned to their villages, which most have been reduced to nothing. Our hope is that we might be able to visit them but security is always top priority. Pray for peace and safety to spread throughout the region.
For me (Amethyst), the past week has been rough spiritually/ emotionally. I was thinking last night…. “I need to tell our supporters to pray for courage, because I feel like I’m afraid of my own shadow,” I spent a lot of time thinking about the negative (worst case scenarios) that could happen and at night, having trouble sleeping and even more trouble finding a passion for receiving God’s word ministering it alongside of Andrew.
I expressed it to Andrew and also to one other Congolese lady (I have become very good friends with overtime) and the only answer they had for me was prayer, getting into the face of God.
Last night, Andrew and I began praying intensely for my breakthrough and for breakthrough here in the North-Kivu, DRC. We immediately began to cry, because God was speaking to us. . . I was shown how I have been trying to defend myself from the evils of the DRC. My fear was not allowing me to fully love Jesus.
The Lord brought Matthew 25 to my mind “what you did for the least of these you did unto me,” He reminded me the He (meaning the Lord) was in the very thing I was trying to protect myself from. He is in the churches who cry out night and day for peace in a war torn area, He is in the street children who beg and steal and cry because their bellies are hungry, He is in the women who are brutally raped and mistreated, He is in to the jobless husband who cannot provide for His family, He is even in the soldiers that have forgotten what love is and have given themselves over to some of the most evil atrocities humanity has ever seen, He is in the bandits who once thought it was wrong but can no longer differentiate what’s right from wrong, He is in the people of North Kivu. How can I love Jesus? By loving the these people . . .
Immediately when I got this revelation, I asked “how”… The Lord immediately gave me a song. It was a song that I’ve heard a few times in the USA. “With arms wide open, a heart exposed, with arms wide open, bleeding, sometimes bleeding…” …”You shall love me, you shall love me…”
If I am to love Jesus as he loved me, then I must love the Congolese as Jesus did… With my arms wide open, my heart exposed, bleeding, even if I’m bleeding.
I died all over again to my safety, my security, even to my future and Andrew’s future…
After the marvelous God encounter, Andrew and I talked… Andrew said, “If we love with our arms wide open and our hearts exposed and they take advantage of us, rob us even if they kill us… They are killing Jesus and they are bringing judgment upon themselves.” We were moved to pray for the Congo and for them to know Jesus when they see him. Suddenly, the sadness of what a nation that kills Jesus would bring upon them began to override the importance of our own life. We were filled with compassion and love for “the least of these” the people of North-Kivu, DRC.
“What does love look like, is the question, I’ve been pondering
“What does love look like is the question that I’m asking…
“With arms wide open, a heart exposed
With arms wide open, bleeding, sometimes bleeding
You shall love me, you shall love me, and you shall love me
….You’ll come alive; you’ll come alive, when you learn to die…”
-Arms Wide Open by Misty Edwards
Last Sunday was day of Pentecost. After participating and water baptizing new believers and telling them about another baptism which they must experience, Andrew spent a long time studying the word of God the night before “Pentecost Sunday”. We were praying to see these new believers receive the baptism of the Holy Spirit and their prayer language. He studied diligently the scriptures, since we know this is a controversial subject. He wanted the believers to know what the baptism of the Holy Spirit was, and why they needed it…
The following Sunday was very powerful, Andrew shared a powerful word and gave an invitation to be filled with the Holy Spirit. Over 25 believers came forward and were filled with the Holy Spirit, people fell on the ground, others cried and there were several healings. One lady immediately proclaimed her back had been straightened after praying. Following the Sunday morning service, Pastor Paul asked that Andrew would share another message about the Holy Spirit at his church (in another quarter of the city). Andrew shared the message there and a few people received their prayer language for the first time. At the end of the meeting the believers asked for us to hold another meeting on Saturday’s at six where they can practice praying together and exercising the spiritual gifts. The believers were uplifted and were excited to pray.
For our first week in the DRC, we have not found a place to call home for an extended period of time. We are staying at the Catholic Guesthouse in Goma right now. It’s expensive and not conveniently located anywhere near the churches we work with nor town. However, it’s near Lake Kivu and it’s beautiful. Pray that would open the opportunity for us to move to a less expensive and more permanent location, before we run out of money for lodging.
While here, we’ve taken the time to create several new relationships with several well-informed Congolese pastors who were also staying at the guest house. Most of them are not from the North East and have not been as traumatized from the atrocities of the war, they’ve been given opportunities to travel the world and understand more fully our struggles to understand Congolese culture. One pastor is very old and wise; he has traveled all over the world, America, South Korea, China, Europe, Latin America… He has even ministered with Pastor Kim who is the pastor of the largest church in the world in South Korea. As soon as he met us, he immediately told his colleagues they are not fully muzungu (white man), “he is Asian and she is Latin American,” he said. This is rare, since in Congo there is no difference between people with light skin. We are all white…
We began to talk with him and another Congolese Baptist pastor who is visiting Florida for the first time this August. We told them our vision and became friends with them. For two days, we shared breakfast, lunch and dinner with them. They gave us great words of encouragement and invaluable insight about how to minister to Congolese and important warnings that many western missionaries have had to discover the hard way. The old wise pastor asked us tough questions to get us to think, he challenged our mindsets, but he did it gracefully. For once, I understood the African cultural practice of the young people sitting at the feet of old, old men in the villages as they told proverbs and stories about life. The experience touched Andrew and I and we feel that those pastors were God sent.
They are gone now, off to other parts of the country and the world, but I remember one story that Malala (the younger age 40 or so told)…
It was about the first missionaries, years ago that came to Congo. The story of one who held church gatherings everyday and the people came but there was no real response to Jesus. They would sing the songs and be respectful, but the Gospel had not penetrated their hearts. For three years, the missionary and his family stood and did not see one convert in the villages. Discouraged one night, the missionary fell to his knees and prayed to God for guidance, “I need a message from you, I need to know what to say,” the Lord immediately told the missionary to give a message on giving. If you have two tunics and your brother has none, give what you have to your brother. That was the message. . . The Congolese began to speak among themselves and chatter, they seemed very interested, but there was no response to the Gospel. . .
The next day, after the missionary shared the message, a Congolese came to his door and asked for his clothes, the next day another came to his door and asked for his pots and pans, the next day-- his bed… After a few days, the missionary had nothing to give… He didn’t even have a thing to sleep on… He had nothing. When the Congolese saw that he had nothing, they returned with all of the missionary’s possessions and gave them back to him… “Now, we know what you preach is true,” the whole village gave their lives to Jesus. . .
The moral of this story, was not necessarily for us to give everything away (although we should, if God says), but to receive the message from the Lord and BE the living message. . .
The two pastors ministered to us and gave us advice that no one from our home country could. We have met angels in the heart of Africa. . .
If I (Amethyst) don’t find myself in the right spirit; I’m not in the word; not praying a whole lot, my gut feelings can get out of control; I think this is the case for everyone. And when you’re in a place you’re not sure of, around a language you don’t know this feeling rollercoaster can really take you for a ride…
Andrew stood up late, last night preparing a sermon for this Sunday, the day of Pentecost. He studied the word and prayed diligently for the people that he would lay hands on to get filled with the Holy Ghost. Meanwhile, I sat and read from a textbook about “International Organizations,” (textbooks are great, but they’re not much of a faith builder). The night we went to bed, I began thinking about all the negative possible things that could happen, shaking myself up and then forcing myself back to sleep again.
Around 1 am, I was awakened to the sound of tribal drums and chanting. This is something we commonly hear in the nighttime here, but this time it was UNUSUALLY close. I PANICKED. Meanwhile, Andrew was sound asleep.
When I woke him up, he admitted they sounded close, but he was in total peace.
“It’s okay,” Andrew said “I have complete peace about this.”
“I don’t,” I replied sharply.
I envisioned in my head our building being surrounded by the Mai Mai and almost anticipated a gun shot. I insisted Andrew get his shirt on and I slept with my boots on (prepared to jump out of bed and run when I needed to).
The singing became more distant but still terribly loud. Andrew and I prayed, but I stood awake praying until daylight. So many things rushed through my mind. I even thought, ‘tomorrow, I’m changing my ticket and getting out of here,’ at the same time I thought ‘even if something bad does happen, I command it to stop in Jesus name,’ my spirit and my flesh were at war…
The next morning at breakfast, we spoke to our Congolese friends about the night.
“They were fishing on the lake and singing,” One of them said “I was enjoying it!”
Had we fully understood Kiswahili, we probably would have been able to know from the start that there was no problem.
Andrew was right, he was completely in the right spirit and I’m thankful that he doesn’t get as paranoid as I do sometimes. I know that his peace came from the Holy Spirit and it continues to come from the Holy Spirit. Next time, when I see him pressing into Jesus, I’m not going to sit back and read a textbook.
Things are really changing on this side. Some seems for better, others for worse; we’ll just have to see. We see more “muzungus” (white man) than we have in the past. That doesn’t mean things are really better though. We don’t know what they are really here for: business, recreation, NGO (non-government organization) work. Maybe they’re just cowboy journalists who are trying to go to the most dangerous places to fetch a story no one really wants to read. . .
As much as we have tried to keep up with what is going on in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), the media has failed in reporting what is going on. Perhaps it’s not considered news anymore... The Congolese government which is infested with impunity and the soldiers who terrorize the people: evidently Paris Hilton is much more interesting. . . The news stories reported in America about the Congo are always old. News agencies will report on something that happened six months ago as if it happened this week. But, allow me to share some breaking news with you. . .
The city of Luebero (tentative launch pad of where a sister organization we planned on working with) was ambushed by the rebels. They killed several South African peacekeeping soldiers and severely damaged an American Red Cross compound. This happened the day we arrived in Goma.
Only a couple of weeks before, thousands of internally displaced people (IDPs) were sent back to their villages. It was political ploy on behalf of the Congolese government to prove to UN (United Nations) that the war has ended.
“Go home,” they told the IDPs “the war is over.”
The truth is the war is still going on. These IDPs are returning to territory which has been overtaken by militia. They are walking right into the war… They have nowhere to go . . .
Over 95% of the IDP camps in the North Kivu have been shut-down by the Congolese government. This has affected hundreds of thousands of families.
Furthermore, there are rumors brewing that the Mai Mai (another militia group) is planning on attacking the city of Goma on DRC’s Independence Day, June 30. This is a group which is specifically known for their witchcraft. People say that they fight with nothing but paint on them and bullets do not kill them. We don’t know if this rumor is true, but in Africa (and in other places) it is best not neglecting rumors. I know that the power of Jesus is above all evil, and we are not worried.
There’s some news you probably won’t hear about for the next six months, even if you do follow African news…