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. . .