Every day we learn more and more about the Congolese. Sure, we read books before coming, we heard over and over, “The Congo is one of the toughest places to work.” We heard about the terrible things going on, but no one can really understand the depths of a problem without experiencing the people and the culture. Likewise, if you don’t understand the depth of a problem, you’ll fail to find a practical solution. We came here to learn about the DR Congo. People like to place blanket statements over Africa and it’s really sad because not all African countries are the same. So you can’t treat the issues all the same.
Zambia prepared us for the DR Congo and Overland Missions taught us a lot about how they dealt with issues in Zambia. However, we are quickly realizing that dealing with social issues in the DRC is very different from those in Zambia. Schooling is a good example, in many African countries, schools are paid for by the government even if the curriculum is a little behind, at least it’s free school. In the DRC, schooling is not available for everyone, the government does not pay teachers and all children must pay for their school. This is a huge issue because of the extreme poverty in the country. People are poorer here than in Zambia, but the cost of living is much higher than, about double. As a matter of fact, the prices here are probably equivalent to those in America, sometimes more.
There are currently (at least) four recognized militia groups in this North East Province of the DRC: Mai Mai, FDLR, LRA and Interhamwe. Along with those are the FRDC, which is the DRC military which in many ways, aren’t much better the militia. Deeply rooted in the conflict is tribalism beliefs, politics and money. Discrimination amongst tribes has caused much favoritism in the churches and has made it nearly impossible for the nation to stand in unity. Among those issues, problems from Rwanda and Uganda have been pushed over their borders and onto Congolese soil. Today the Tutsis repay the same atrocities witnessed in the 1994 Rwandan genocide less than 50 kilometers out of Goma.
The UN is composed of the most power countries in the world, who happen to be the same ones exploiting the DRC’s mineral rich land. They have the largest peace keeping effort here in the Eastern province, yet the war rages. How can it be that a composition of the world’s most powerful nations couldn’t squash a few groups of untrained militia with old fashioned weapons? The answer is because they don’t want to. By bringing stability back to the DRC, places like America, China and European nations would have to take their hands off of the minerals. For this reason our nation and many others continue to live a double standard of helping the Congolese for a day but hurting them for decades.
Ultimately, the DRC is more different than anywhere we’ve ever worked. The level of development is far below other African nations and the desperation makes it difficult to keep you thinking straight. It is a country that can only be changed by Jesus Christ renewing the minds of people.
In the face of all of Congo’s difficulties, we still believe in it. We believe in the people and more importantly we believe in Christ who can make all things knew. We know this is where we are supposed to be. We know God needs us to continue, we know eventually it will require all of our time effort and energy; fasting comfort, family and security. Yet, we are excited. We know that inside the will of God everything is okay. So much has happened; it’s too much to blog about. Some I would love to relive other parts I’d rather not. However, this is our place for now or we’re ready to fight the good fight. What about you? Please continue to pray for us and see how God might lead you to be part of a something great in the DR Congo.
As we wrap up our trip, we’ve been doing so many interviews, asking people to give their testimonies, listening to their stories. It’s been touching. One lady even said, “I didn’t know that white man (men) cared about people, I didn’t know they understood how to love like Jesus. You have shown me who Jesus is.” We have been spending time in some of the most difficult areas in town ministering home to home, blessing people’s houses.
There was a young girl we prayed over at an IDP camp (Internally displaced people). She was stiff, could not walk and could not talk. I recall praying over her and thinking I hope she doesn’t die soon. That’s how bad things looked. Last night, at someone’s house we received a call from a pastor at that IDP camp. He was excited, exclaiming, “The missionaries are doing a great work!” He went on to mention that the young girl was hopping around the morning after we prayed over her. “Tell them to keep doing the work of God,” he said. . .
The child was healed
The child suffered from demonic attacks and poor health. She was delivered!
The church was dark and tiny; you could tell the women had put a lot of work into making it look inviting for the congregation.
It was 6 AM and everyone was gathering for morning devotion. When Andrew began speaking his message was received. The Holy Spirit began to lead us all to prayer. While we prayed, unusual things began to happen; the Holy Spirit was breaking out. People began falling, others jumping and others sobbing. The whole church began to erupt in a fervent prayer for their nation. The one hour devotion became a three hour ½ hour intercessory meeting.
The Holy Spirit fell so thick that even the drummers fell on the floor, the children rolled around shouting in tongues. Everyone in the room was greatly affected. The pastor almost didn’t know what to do, because it just kept on going on and on and on. We saw women being set free, joy relieving their faces and orphans kneeling down in adoration.
It was at that moment, I thought, this is what it’s all about. That morning people had a radical God encounter. We didn’t need to lay hands on them (although we did), God’s glory was covering them.
I don’t know what else to write except that God showed up that morning and that was the most radical devotion I’ve ever had. When the devotion ended it people still had trouble getting up, because the presence of God was so thick.
Shortly after we had meeting just for the orphans where we played games with them and taught the alphabet. After that we shared with them the word of God. We had an alter call, not just for salvation but for those who were called to do God’s work in their country. Nearly all of them responded (about 30). We prayed with them and sent them off to eat a traditional Congolese meal of beans and ugali the women in the church prepared for them. . .
The book of James says that pure and undefiled religion is ministering to the orphans and the widows. I agree, because they have nothing they can give back, so your reward must totally come from heaven. I would rather have my reward come from heaven anyway, wouldn’t you?
Going to the rural areas has been very difficult, if it’s not one thing it’s the other. Our vehicle has limited capability; there are sometimes bribes up to $300 on the road there, militias skirmish along the main roads with weapons and hand grenades. Every time we try to make it out there, something happens. It’s sometimes discouraging.
Recently, we were able to go to a small village only 50 km outside the city called Bwaramanwe where we spent the day doing ministry and meeting a rural pastor. He was a jolly man who had been in the ministry for many years. We visited his church and had a prayer meeting with the leaders. “Three years ago, God told us that he would send us a messenger with light skin, now you have finally come.”
In Bwaramanwe we saw at least 50 people stand up to accept Christ and almost the entire church was full on a workday with many visitors who wanted to hear the message we would bring.
Yesterday, we were supposed to go to the village of Minova. The night before, everyone on our team had strange dreams about the trip, including Amethyst. Regardless we decided to carry out the mission.
On the way to Minova, our vehicle was hit by a United Nations military truck. I praise God because this accident could’ve been much worse. The back of the vehicle was hit, where both Andrew and I were sitting, but neither of us were hurt, nor anyone else in the vehicle.
The trip was scratched but we spent the day on the Indian UN Military base. I don’t know why God allowed that to happen, but we have put it in his hands.
Overland Missions focuses in on the rural bush areas. This is where we have been trying to go. Yet, we have faced a lot of obstacles from paperwork, to bad contacts, to bad roads, to accidents. Please pray that God’s will be done. We don’t understand much, but we know we’ll keep trying.