Well, it’s three weeks to departure.

I am excited but feeling the burden of lots of details that need to get nailed down.

Now that I am on my third trip though, I have learned to expect it.  It’s time to just push through it.

On this trip, the team will be Mark and Kenna Smith and Newton Ombete.  Mark and I have been friends for years.  I am looking forward to his wife going.  She should provide a woman’s perspective on things.  Newton lives in Kenya and is a relatively new friend.  A friend of mine introduced us last year when I was looking for a source for Swahili Bibles.  Newton became that source.  I was impressed by his willingness to travel 15 hours one way by bus to deliver the Bibles to us in Kigali, Rwanda.  This year, he volunteered to bring the Bibles to us in Bukavu, Congo and do all of the interpreting from Swahili to English.  Thank God for Newton!

As you read about our plans, you need to consider the context — a city of 500,000 people where there are hundreds, if not thousands, of churches.  Most people live on something like a dollar per day.  The average life expectancy is 54.  One-half the population is under 16.   On the one hand, cell phones are abundant, but electricity and water are unreliable.  Corruption is everywhere, including the church.  Young girls have to sleep with their teachers to get the grades that they earned.  Rape of young girls, women, and now even men is used as a weapon of war.

From the world’s perspective, it is hopeless.  Here’s what it feels like.  Imagine showing up to an “empty” Lake Travis.  You want to help fill it up with water and all you have to contribute is a teaspoon of water.  That’s why we must cry out to God — that He would change the hearts and minds of the Congolese people through a relationship with Jesus Christ.

Here are the plans for the trip that I believe God has prepared for us:

  • We will teach a course to potential entrepreneurs on the Biblical basis for work as well as the practical aspects of planning, starting and operating a business.  We believe that the only way to create permanent solutions to poverty is to teach people to build Christ-centered businesses.  We will challenge them to do market research and draft a business plan.  Just to be clear, we are talking about very simple businesses.  We hope to come back to Bukavu and review the business plans and do some more training.  Ultimately, we hope to provide some micro-lending to help start the businesses.  We will allow the participants to “self select” by giving them homework assignments to do between each of our trips.
  • We will teach Bible study methods to the people who will distribute 400 Swahili Bibles and solar powered MP3 players using a “train the trainer” approach.  We will challenge the people that we train to seek God and ask Him to whom they should give Bibles.  We hope that they will not only give away these Bibles but pass on the training.
  • We will act as catalysts for “brainstorming” (really seeking God’s direction) for a group of pastors.  When one lives in a society that has been victimized for many generations, one ceases to believe that Jesus Christ is personal and powerful.  We will challenge them to depend on God, not Americans or non-governmental humanitarian organizations or money.

We want to recruit 400 people to “adopt” and pray for the recipients of the Bibles — that God would use His word to change their hearts and minds and ultimately the culture and society.  We will put a book plate inside of each Bible with the person’s name in it and an inscription in Swahili that says that the person is praying for the recipient.  If you want to adopt a recipient, drop me an email at [email protected]