Amethyst and I have been ministering in many remote villages outside of Goma. These places have dynamic churches capable of ministering the Word of God but often times there are some elements of tradition and culture that work their way into the church, causing deep problems in the church and in society. One such issue is with marriage.
Recently, we held different training and equipping seminars in several villages. These seminars addressed issues amongst the whole body, leaders, women, intercessors, youth (anyone not married) and couples. We know that marriage is a hot topic and many issues surround it.
It is not that uncommon for a pastor to preach a fiery sermon but then come home and beat his wife. In fact some pastors constantly make their wife stay home from church to take care of the home and cook. The wife silently dies inside, so as not to disrupt "the work of God."
Well, Amethyst and I started to preach from Ephesians 5 about how in marriage the relationship between a man and a woman is to reflect the relationship between Christ and the church. I would give illustrations questioning societal issues and misconceptions about marriage.For example, it is not uncommon for the man to be unemployed and sit around all day long. All the while, the wife is expected to take care of the kids, take care of the crops, gather food, find firewood, fetch water, take care of the kids, amongst a variety of other tasks… On top of this, if the man is hungry and the food is not served yet, he’ll get mad and kick over the boiling pot of beans. Then he may even begin to beat his wife. After all that, his wife is expected to give him sex whenever he wants.
After saying this, the women all sort of looked at each other, snickered and all together nodded with agreement. Some even said, “This is exactly what happens!” Others shouted, “Very much so!”
The men all began to blush and I asked the men, “If your best friend saw you cooking and even as a joke he kicked over the beans, you would punch them.” Then I asked the men, “If you treat your wife like this, should you expect them to love you?”
Then I gave an example of the men who are great providers and take care of their family but the wife might have lots of disrespect. I asked the women, “Do you think it is very respectful to completely harass and show contempt for your husband when he is a good provider and trying to do everything right?”
It is a new revelation for many of the men and women. We are careful to use examples that are common with both men and women so as to not paint the other gender in the wrong light. It is like a light bulb goes on and many people question themselves to see if they are treating their spouse in the right way.
Then we give a time of question and answer for both the men and women. One time a man stood up and asked, “Is it ever okay to beat your wife?” I hesitated and thought about it and said, sure you can beat your wife but don’t expect to be treated very well by your wife. If you treat your wife like a donkey don’t be upset when she behaves like one back to you. Then I went on to say in a serious voice, “Well let me ask you this… would you like to be beaten by your wife for being late making the food after a long, hard day of work?” The man looked at me and then shook his head and I think he answered his own question by my question back to him.
It was a blessed time to be able to challenge culture and to make many of the Congolese begin to see how culture must be changed. After the marriage seminar many of the Congolese were appreciative and happy to hear a new Biblical teaching. We left them with the verse in 1 Peter 3:7 that Husbands must show honor to their wives so that their prayers won’t be hindered. The Congo will experience revival when the prayers of husbands are no longer hindered.
We have continued to visit the Heal Africa hospital with Pastor Euclide and his staff. One day we all separated into groups with other Congolese ministers. Sam went to one part of the hospital, Andrew to another, and I (Amethyst) went to the ward for the rape/gender violence victims. It was timely, because a few of the women were about to undergo surgery just before I came in.
Again, I read the Psalms to them and prayed over them. Some were in so much pain, they could hardly walk. When I began to pray for the women who came to me, the other women slowly (and painfully) began to get out of bed and come for prayer. When I noticed, I immediately told them that I would come to them, but one woman did not listen. She came and got on her knees in front of me. As I prayed over her, she clutched my skirt. . . I immediately thought about the woman with the issue of blood, how she touched part of Jesus’ clothes and she was healed by her faith.
Andrew went to a place with AIDS patients. He prayed over them and gave them encouragement. It was very difficult for him to see some people in the last stages of their life.
Sam saw five people come to Jesus after he shared the Gospel with them.
After ministering to the women, I went to the newborn baby ward. I spoke to the mothers about how there is life and death in what they speak over their children, afterward I prayed a prayer of dedication over the babies. It was a great joy to hold the newborn babies and speak scripture over them.
Many things went on as we ministered at the hospital and although Sam, Andrew and I were not together, the Lord was working through all of us and our local Congolese brothers and sisters. . .
A photo of a female AIDS patient on her death bed. They asked Andrew to take a picture so that she'll always be remembered.
So much have been happening that it has been difficult to write it all down, so the accounts I give are sparse and sometimes out of chronological order.
One particular group of people we have been ministering to are the internally displaced people. These are people from the rural bush areas who have fled as a result of the war. As I have mentioned earlier, most IDPs have been forced to return back to their villages, but the ones who have stayed are the handicapped. These include the mentally handicapped, the blind, the lame etc . . . It also include their families which can consist anywhere from 3-12 children. These people are in an especially difficult situation because most of them are physically unable to make the journey back to their home villages (or whatever’s left of them).
When we first went into the camp, people were suspicious. Police officers insisted they follow us around.“What would these white people want with these IDPs,” they wondered. Immediately we spoke with the camp officials. In Africa and specifically DRC, power is achieved by ‘personal rule’ which has a lot more to do with loyalty and relationship with people in power than actual skills and knowledge. The most important thing we can do is talk to village headmen and officials before we preach the Gospel. It’s a way of showing humility and respect. These long (and sometimes tiresome) formalities are what matter in the long run.
Afterward, we gathered all of the pastors of the camp. There weren’t many of them and a lot of them no longer had a congregation anymore. There was an extreme sense of hopelessness in the camp. Members of the churches were no longer attending and the pastors had lost everything including their bibles due to war or robbery.As soon as we introduced ourselves to them, the pastors immediately asked for us to share a word from God with them.
“We are hungry and thirsty for the word,” they said.
Andrew and I both shared a message with them of hope and read from the book of Psalms to them. Andrew really brought the ministry to another level, when he sat down and sympathized with them and their sufferings. He constantly repeated how he knows they are suffering and that he can’t imagine how strong they must be. This is something they needed to hear. . . They needed to hear that someone knew about what they were going through. . .
We began to pray over the pastors and leaders. As we ministered the presence of God began to enter the room. Even the police officers quietly began to observe, people began to gather around. We prayed over everyone who came to us. One pastor who was paralyzed from the hips down asked for prayer. As Andrew and our translator (Phillip) began to pray, the pastor’s legs began to move, the pastor began to lift himself out of his seat and start to stand. People in the room were extremely touched, crowds were gathering all around the building. Andrew and Phillip escorted the pastor outside of the building as he prayed and cried, moving his legs for the first time in years. The ministry was powerful.
After about 2 hours of praying over people, we finished and began to make plans for the upcoming trips. The pastors asked for us to bring a choir next time we come. They also asked for bibles. We told them, we didn’t have much, but God would provide. After the meeting with the pastors, we visited their tents and met their families. We also went to other peoples tents and prayed over them and their children.
I believe God sent us to that camp just to tell the people not to give up.
“No one comes to visit us, but we know that God has truly come among us, because you came,”
Further stories about what is going in this camp are coming soon . . . Stay posted.
This is my first time in Africa.I like it.The African cities I’ve been to so far are much different from America.There are people EVERYWHERE.It’s different in the U.S. because everyone travels in their cars, so you don’t actually get to see the people who are doing the traveling.Not so in the city of Goma where we are staying; you can see people everywhere.Motorbike is our primary mode of travel.
Everywhere we hear “Muzungu,” which means rich white man.As we ride on the motorbike, “Eh, muzungu!”As we enter a store, people say to each other, “Muzungu.”The children flock behind us as we walk through the slums shouting, “Muzungu!”I’m not really sure whether to take this as a negative or a positive thing, but it is what it is.It is shocking for them to see a muzungu riding a motorbike or walking through their poor neighborhood because it disrupts the stereotypical ‘white man’ image they have in their minds.Despite this heightened attention that we attract, I already feel normal staying here.After only two full days in Goma, it doesn’t feel like a foreign place anymore.I attribute this to the warm welcome I have received from the local Body of Christ.I have family in this city.
My purpose here is to help Andrew and Amethyst in whatever way they need to further God’s vision for them in the DRC.We have a full schedule for the time that I’m here since it was so expensive to get me over to Africa.I’ve already given the Word of God on several occasions.Most of the time, I did not have anything prepared when I was asked to share.I just opened my Bible and asked the Holy Spirit to guide me; after all, that’s what He’s there for.This naturally makes me nervous because I’m most comfortable when I’ve had time to prepare, but God is pushing my comfort zone and teaching me further to rely on His strength and wisdom instead of my own.Praise the Lord!
Some people just need a little push to get them to step out of the boat.I’m grateful for my time here.I’ve realized that God has multiple purposes for me on this trip: my strengthening, Andrew and Amethyst’s strengthening, and the strengthening of the church in the DRC.Lord Jesus, have your way in us.Amen.
Ministering to the orphans alongside Partners in Harvest Church has been wonderful. There has been many, many salvations and the children are learning to pray and hear from Jesus. During one meeting, the spirit of prophecy came into the room, we prophesied life into the children and they gave words. As stated in the last blog, when we ministered with juice and bread, there wasn't enough... But somehow there were two bags of bread and a lots of juice left over.
This past Saturday we returned from Kigali after picking up one of our good friends, Sam Klimmek. Sam is a great friend with a like-hearted spirit. He worships with us in the United States when we have worship nights. We are happy to have him with us. He’s a great blessing.
Sunday, all of us went to CEPAC Tumaini church, where Sam gave the message. He spoke on love. Love is a concept that not many understand around the world but particularly in the DR Congo. Many don’t understand the full meaning of love in a country that has been plagued with war, hatred, greed and corruption. The message of love is a much needed one. (Also as a side note, the pastor from CEPAC Tumaini is the one who wrote the necessary letter of invite in order for Sam to obtain his visa and enter the country.)
Afterward, Sam gave the English lesson with Pastor Paul at the Brotherly English Center (BEC):a place where Congolese can go to learn English and worship God. After the English lesson, the BEC holds a church service in English.Sam gave a message from Philippians 4.
On Monday we went and did ministry at HEAL Africa Hospital again with Pastor Euclide and those from Partners in Harvest Church. Simply put, our goal was to be Jesus to these people. Jesus went to the sick to pray for them, so likewise we are to be imitators of Christ. Many people were encouraged by our presence, five people accepted Jesus into their hearts. We believe Jesus will heal them spiritually, emotionally and physically.
Upon our completion of praying for everyone at HEAL Africa, we traveled to Partners in Harvest Church where we had a great time with the orphans. Partners in Harvest Church is located in the biggest slum of Goma. There are many orphaned street children. Pastor Euclide has gotten a great revelation: the future of the nation rests in the children. Thus, they do much with the orphans. We taught them the ABC’s in English and then gave a message about how they are children of promise and can do all things through Christ who strengthens them. They have the power to lay hands on the sick, to pray for an issue and to see God move in power.
Ministry with the orphans ended with us blowing bubbles in the street and watching them jump up and down trying to catch them. Meanwhile, the leaders were preparing bread and juice for the orphans, a great treat! After the bubbles were finished we returned back inside where the orphans received the bread and juice. The numbers didn’t add up, there were more kids than bread and juice, but somehow there was enough for everyone. In God there is always enough. Pastor Euclide told about how Andrew and Philip gathered only five loaves and two fish for Jesus’ large crowd, but after they prayed and broke the bread and the fish, there was enough for everyone. All of the orphans left happy, and in the end, there were two baskets of bread and juice leftover! Amen!
Yesterday, Andrew woke up EARLY in the morning and went with Pastor Euclide to the hospital to minister to the sick. A lot of people suffered major injuries as a result of the war. Andrew and the pastor went room to room sharing the love of Jesus and praying over the old and the young.
Probably, the most notable time was when Andrew went to the hospital to minister specifically to the women who have been victims of gender-based violence and rape. These women are separated from the rest of the hospital, because of the traumatic injuries they suffered. They have also, been shunned by society. The hospital puts them together in a separate building so that they can find some sense of community, since the rest of the community has stigmatized them.
Andrew found it so difficult, being a man, coming to minister to these women, but he heard from the Holy Spirit… He spoke with a large a group of the women,
“I don’t know the pain you are going through, I don’t know what it feels like to experience the things you have experienced . . . But I know someone who does…” He told them about how Jesus was also abused; he was also humiliated and cast out of his society. Andrew told them that he would pray for healing, but he also shared with them a very difficult message:
“You need to position yourself for your healing... You need to forgive…”
Andrew’s message on forgiveness was unlike most other messages they’d heard. Some ladies covered their head and looked at the ground as the Holy Spirit was dealing with them. You could see that an internal war was going on inside of them. These ladies have experienced some of the worst atrocities the world has ever seen, and they were learning to forgive and let go.
Andrew spoke lovingly, on how to forgive, why they need to forgive and the result of forgiving and putting it into the hands of the Father.Afterward, he prayed over them.
Both, Andrew and I will be returning to these ladies next Monday to continue ministering to them… We will also be going to the rural villages where I will do special seminars with the women who have been victims of gender-based violence. Pray that we will be given the right words to say . . .
Well that is the location nearest we are staying now. We moved in to our new abode. We were praying for a safe and secure place for around $400 a month. It took some searching but all things work out for the good of those who love Him. We love Him! Praise God that we found this place. Amethyst and I are staying with two United Nations staff members. Sam is from Liberia and Frances is from Sierra Leone. Both of them come from two countries that have undoubtedly seen their fair share of violence and war.
Jambo Safari in English means “hello trip.” How true is that! A good friend of ours, Sam will be coming and joining us here to do ministry. For just over two weeks he is leaving his comforts of America and will serve along side of us ministering amongst some of the world’s most neglected. Sam leaves today, June 9, 2010 and will embark on the grueling two days of constant travel. We’ll meet him in Kigali, Rwanda on June 11 so keep him in your prayers. Pray for a safe journey and that the Lord would prepare him mentally, emotionally and spiritually for ministry!
Our schedule is full full as the Congolese would say. Here is a brief look into our upcoming schedule, at least while Sam is here! Also, this is for your information so you have a brief indication of what to pray for.
11 – Travel to Kigali to get Sam 12 – Return from Kigali, day of rest for Sam, running last minute errands 13 – Visit CEPAC Tumaini Church and Living Rock Ministries 14 – Visit Partners in Harvest @ 7:00 – HEAL Africa @ 8:30 – orphans at PIH Church 15 – Visit Partners in Harvest @ 7:30 – 8:30 seminar on love, visit Birere quarter praying for sick 16 – Visit Partners in Harvest @ 7:30 – 8:30 general, 8:30-9:30 women’s meeting, 9:30-? seminar 17 – Visit CEPAC Baraka Church 18-20 – Nyangoma (Traveling out and staying in the rural villages for ministry) 21 – Bweremana (more rural ministry) 22-23 – Mugunga 3 Internally Displaced Camp ministry 24 – Day of rest 25 – Travel to Kigali 26 – Sam Leaves
In other news, we have not yet had the money to buy a 4x4 vehicle but we have found transportation. This past Saturday we purchased a dirt bike! It isn’t a Yamaha as they cost like $5,000 for only a 175cc. After looking around we decided to buy a Senke 200cc for $1,000. It isn’t something you’ll race AMA Supercross and won’t be seen as a bike that wins the Paris Dakar Rally but it will take us most every place we need to go, even up steep mountain paths. Senke is an Indian brand with cheaper parts than a Yamaha but as long as you take care of it, it’ll run well for a long time, so the locals say. Many Congolese experts are actually very impressed with its engine.
Also, you must be wondering, “How is Andrew?”
I am doing fine! I went to the doctor at HEAL Africa and he prescribed me some medication and I am doing just fine. I am finishing the last of the medication as we speak and I have made a full recovery, praise God! Thank you all for your many prayers. We appreciate it a lot.
Hang in there if we don’t put up a blog every day or even a couple days because of two things: the internet connection is slow slow, as in slower than a dial-up connection bogged down with ten users trying to download 100 songs on LimeWire and also, we’re busy doing ministry so we don’t always have the time to spend to upload a new blog post.
Malaria, the dreaded parasitic virus that claims millions of lives annually but is completely treatable. Well for the past couple of days I have been suffering with a head cold and congestion. It was only a head cold which then developed into a fever. What happened is that I `had a cold which caused my immune system to weaken. Then in the night I must have gotten stuck by a mosquito who so happened to be a carrier of Malaria. With an already poor defense system I contracted Malaria.
I went to HEAL Africa which is a very well known and recognized hospital started by an American lady. They have served the Congolese faithfully for many years and have been a great help to the people of North Kivu who’ve experienced some of the worst tragedies on earth. But this time HEAL Africa has healed America...
The doctor who assisted me knows more languages and has seen more complicated injuries than 99% of doctors in America. He gets paid 1/10 the amount and must make do with 1/3 the resources of his American counterparts. But this doctor can do more than what 99% of American doctors could ever do: assess my blood for Malaria.
After taking my blood sample yesterday, they found out that I contracted Malaria. They gave me a 24 hour treatment and my body is already stronger. Also, they gave me some Vitamin C tablets mixed with Paracetamol to ease pain and reduce fever. So far I am recovering very well.
But there is a whole other side to this recovery. That is the power of prayer. Pastor Paul somehow must have sent a mass SMS to many acquaintances telling them to lift me up in prayer! So they did and I am sure that without their prayers I would not be recovering so well.
PRAYER ALERT: As I have posted on Facebook already, Andrew has been fighting an illness for the past couple of days…He’s been taking Nyquil, Vitamin C, drinking lots of water and of course getting a lot of rest. This is still not kicking the sickness in the butt! Today, he woke up with almost a 102 degree fever. With that said, the pastor and I have decide to take him to the “Heal Africa” hospital in Goma. I’m keeping this post short and simply saying. Pray for his health and wellness.
We have been getting many SMS messages from our African translators and other pastors showing their concerns. One SMS read “Peace to you! Reject far from u all doubt and fear, only trust in the Lord. He is on time to operate miracles for you as he did for me! We are together in prayer… Nice healing night!”
Of course, we know that above all, the Lord is our healer. But I find it funny that today… Heal Africa, will be healing America.