How Many Ways Can We Love Our Neighbors?

The HeadlinesTrip 10 departs on January 12 (postponed from November)

Hoping to take 500 Audibibles – solar powered MP3 players with the Bible in French and Swahili – See some great stories below or click here to find out more.

Paul, a pastor of a start-up church with a passion for leadership development, visited Austin in October.  We planned a 9-month leadership institute that Paul will lead.

Frank’s Tilapia business is up and running.  We are praying for a big harvest in February.

Solomon’s (the 25-year-old philosopher / blogger) influence continues to grow.  Click here to sign up for his blog.  Seeing a growing number of “followers” of his blog is a BIG encouragement to him.  It is an easy way to love your neighbor.

If you want to see a video that explains what Bibles have to do with business in the Congo, click here.

The Power of Truth

As you know, I cannot imagine a life without the Word of God.  That appreciation for how God has used His Word in my life drives my desire to distribute His Word far and wide.

And now we have a trustworthy partner, John, to help us distribute His Word.  He oversees Anglican pastors in rural areas.  Over the past few years, we have given John 200 Bibles (solar powered MP3 players) to distribute through pastors.  One of the things that struck us about John is that he has a big view of the Church.  He distributed the Bibles not just to the pastors that he oversees, but also to pastors in other churches in these rural areas.

We want to provide many more Bibles to John.  We are also working with John to develop a shepherding initiative.  We would like people who receive a Bible to have someone help them understand what they hear – like Philip and the Ethiopian eunuch in Acts 8:26-35.

On our last trip, we traveled with John for several days and visited one of the villages.  During one meeting, 30 pastors explained how God had used these Bibles in people’s lives.

One pastor reported that he gave a Bible player to a mini-bus driver.  He plays the Bible; other drivers play the radio.  Now, passengers request him because they want to hear the Bible.  With more passengers, he makes more money.  Praise God!

One pastor reported that families enjoy listening to the Bible before bed.   Reading is not an option because there is no electricity.

One army chaplain reported that the soldiers fight and have injuries that fill them with stress.  He prays for these soldiers and turns on the Bible player.  Listening to the Word of God gives them strength and confidence.

One pastor reported that the Bibles help traveling evangelists prepare sermons.  He said that it hurt their eyes to the point of tears to read the Bible.  (Glasses are not plentiful.)

Because we find John to be faithful, we believe God wants us to increase the pace of Bible distribution significantly.  On this trip, we hope to take 400 Bibles to him and 100 Bibles to others.  We ask people to “adopt” the Bible recipients by:

  • Agreeing to PRAY for the recipient of the Bible and his/her “listening group”  (just email [email protected]); and/or
  • Contributing $35 to cover the cost of the Bible and the shepherding initiative.  Click here if you want to make a contribution online.

If you already signed up at Grace, there is nothing else you need to do.

I cannot express in words how important it is for the Congolese people to be able to hear the Word of God in their language.  The Word of God brings peace where there is violence.  It brings provision where there is poverty.  It brings hope where there is suffering.  It brings truth where there are many lies.  It brings justice where there is injustice.  It brings good news where much of the news is bad.  It brings rest for the soul.

The Power of Leaders

Here is the “vision” cast by one of the former Presidents of the Congo – leadership at its worst:

To government officials:  “Get all you can while you can.”

To soldiers:  “I give you a gun; why do I have to pay you?”

You can probably imagine the impact of that vision casting.  Actually, I am going to correct myself.  You cannot imagine.  You would be shocked.

Now let me tell you part of the antidote.

We postponed our November trip to January because Paul, one of the Congolese leaders of leaders with which we work, was going to be in Austin for a week in October.

Paul is a pastor of a church planted by a South African church.  Paul is 33 years old, married, and has a one-year-old boy.

Paul has a passion for leadership and wants to train leaders to lead a transformation of the city of Bukavu.

While he was in Austin, we met with several people who helped Paul see possibilities.  We discussed the power of unity among pastors in a city with Alan Nagel (Thank you, ABBA).  We met with Mike Marshall of Social Factor to discuss ways to use social media in ministry.  Paul also worked a day with Ivan Giraldo, CEO of Cleanscapes to see effective leadership in the workplace.  We discussed the Leadership Austin model of leadership development with Dan Rourke, a great leader himself.

We are sponsoring a leadership retreat on our next trip that will kick off a nine-month leadership institute led by Paul.  We are doing the easy stuff and depending on God and His Word to do the hard stuff – change the hearts and minds of the people.

Whereas it is normal in the States to find leadership workshops, books and mentoring, such resources are rare in the Congo.  Paul intends to change that reality.  We intend to help him.

The Power of Business

Our work in helping people create businesses that are capable of employing other people is the work that is going the slowest.  But we keep plugging away.

We have seen some of the Congolese YoungLife leaders start businesses.  We are encouraged by their initiative.  Pray for them – Frank, Jerome, Mugote, Bintu, Mathou, Nakatya – to name a few.

The reality is that business is extraordinarily difficult when people have a scarcity mentality and more than eight government agencies seek to extract “taxes” from businesses.  One of my favorite statistics comes from the World Bank.  It estimates that a Congolese business owes $3.40 in tax for every $1 of pre-tax profit.  People ask me, “How does that work?”  Exactly.  It doesn’t.

In Conclusion

What’s our vision?  To make eastern Congo a little more like heaven.  In some ways, that should be easy; opportunity abounds!

What’s our mission?  To love our neighbors in the Congo.  Technology and airplanes make it possible.  Our new neighbors enrich our lives.

Recently, I heard a Matthew West song that made me laugh because it is so true.  You can see a YouTube video of it here.  The first verse says a lot:
“Do Something”

I woke up this morning
Saw a world full of trouble now
Thought, how’d we ever get so far down
How’s it ever gonna turn around
So I turned my eyes to Heaven
I thought, “God, why don’t You do something?”
Well, I just couldn’t bear the thought of
People living in poverty
Children sold into slavery
The thought disgusted me
So, I shook my fist at Heaven
Said, “God, why don’t You do something?”
He said, “I did, I created you”

It is immensely rewarding to do what God created me to do.

I am grateful for your prayers, support, and encouragement.  Thanks for hanging with us all of these years.

In Christ and for the team,


P.S.  Here is an example of something that keeps me going.  We taught these simple truths out of Genesis 1-3 to a group of 30 pastors.

  • God created us in His image; therefore, we are created to create.
  • God has commanded people to subdue the earth or use the earth’s resources for the benefit of people.
  • God has designed us to work and that our work can bring Him glory.

Here’s what one pastor said as he thanked us:

  • The teachings were new to him and others.
  • Bad teachings have destroyed things in the Congo.
  • The people have never been taught to be creative.

Praise God for empowering us with truth and enabling us to take it where He wants it heard!