Imagine 12 hours of darkness. Every day. Every year. When I say dark, I mean an inky black where there is no light, where you cannot see the hand in front of you. They call Africa the dark continent because when it is night, it is dark. You can see the night satellite view with a google image search and compare with the rest of the world.
Some houses in the city have light at night, but outside the city, there are few artificial sources of light.
The Bible speaks literally and metaphorically of light and darkness. Mike, Ivan and I have been studying those passages.
One passage I like ties together such diverse topics as the Word of God, Jesus, light, darkness and life is John 1:1-5, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being. In Him was life, and the life was the Light of men. The Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it.”
We have a good friend in Bukavu, John, who is an Anglican vicar – an overseer of pastors. John has distributed hundreds of Bibles in the form of solar powered MP3 players in French and Swahili in villages between Bukavu and Uvira. We traveled to one of those villages three years ago so that we could “kick the tires.”
Here’s a picture that I keep as a reminder of village life. These kids are in far worse condition than the kids in Bukavu. The girls will likely grow up to farm with a hoe. We have been using animal-drawn plows since the late 1700s. But that is another story.
Back to light and darkness.
Even when there is light, there is a lot of darkness to life in eastern Congo where this village is located. There are witchdoctors casting spells, rebels fighting the government while raping and pillaging the citizens, other forms of the law of the jungle – the powerful preying on the weak, and a lot of petty theft born of desperate circumstances. (I am not justifying theft, just acknowledging the desperation).
The church can stand in stark contrast to that kind of darkness.
The lack of light at night also decreases the productivity of the people, reducing their income and quality of life. Imagine what could be done with an additional 3-4 hours of light before bed.
On Monday and Tuesday next week, we will spend time with John and 14 pastors from these villages. We want to see how God is working in their lives and in their churches. We want to understand their situation. We will ask a lot of questions and listen. Please pray that we would question and hear well.
We will also hear stories of how lives have changed based on people listening to the Word of God and the light shining in darkness.
We hope to work together to put some additional structure into Bible listening in those villages.
I am also excited about one other piece of technology that we are bringing these pastors – an integrated solar panel, battery and very bright LED light. This light will illuminate a large room. Through the miracle of Amazon.com, we purchased the lights for $11.50 each. (Of course, $200 for an extra suitcase adds some cost.) The picture below shows the audio player containing the Bible and the light.
One of the things we do in many of our meetings with people is to teach and model the brainstorming of ideas. We want people to learn to create and innovate – something that does not seem to occur naturally there. We want to brainstorm the innovative use of these lights with these pastors.
Perhaps their churches can use the light at night and make the church a gathering place for the community. Perhaps, kids could study at night at the churches.
When you receive this email, we will probably be sleeping in Kigali, Rwanda. We have an early flight on Thursday to the border and then will walk into Bukavu.
Here’s our schedule:
Thursday 2/8 – Planning the Pastor Meeting with John and meeting the volunteer YoungLife leaders that we have trained in business.
Friday 2/9 – Spending the day with Joshua, who operates an internet café among other ventures. We will help him think through some new initiatives. The use of smartphones is growing which has reduced his revenue.
Saturday morning (2/10) will be a grand experiment. We have been vision casting on a Facebook page called “Bible Business Prayer” using paid advertising. We use that page to prompt people to join a private Facebook group called Africa Mupya (Swahili for a new Africa). Next, we invited people to an event Saturday morning to meet the American businessmen who want to help the Congolese form businesses that can employ other people. I am looking forward to this event although I have no idea how it will go!
Saturday afternoon – We will meet with six business owners in Paul’s church to discuss the issues and opportunities in their businesses – consulting with them and encouraging them.
Sunday 2/11 – Church
Monday 2/12 and Tuesday 2/13 – Meetings with the 14 Pastors, discussed above.
Wednesday 2/14 – Visiting the gorillas. Apparently, they have missed us. A great Valentine’s day treat.
Thursday and Friday – open
Friday night 2/16 – Sunday 2/18 – We will be hosting a retreat for a leadership institute founded by Paul. He brings the people and we bring the Fire. Seriously, he interviews and select 12 young leaders to go through a 12-month program and we bring Kindle Fires so that they can read books and acquire some technology skills.
Monday night – Leave for home
Most nights we will have dinner with local friends.
Mike will have some separate training events to teach storytelling, videography, editing, lighting and other relevant topics. People there are always happy to see Mike’s smile and to learn more.
Ivan will provide most of the business consulting. He speaks from an inspiring personal story and significant success in business.
Here are our prayer requests.
Prayers for Leadership Development:
- Direct Paul in growing the Leadership Academy. Pray that the new leaders would learn to walk closely with Jesus.
- Challenge Solomon in a new way to see how he can be used to help the people of the Congo.
Prayers for Bible Distribution:
- Show Solomon and John how to best distribute Bibles and how to encourage the use of them to help the people of eastern Congo grow in their knowledge of God and how to live well.
- That the recipients would share the Word with many others. That they would listen to God’s Word together, grow together and lead together.
Prayers for Business Formation:
- Give us wisdom in helping the members of the Africa Mupya Facebook Group start and grow businesses.
- Lead us in developing a “business in a box” so the students can learn business experientially.
Prayers for Story Telling and Video Production:
- Help Mike mentor Prince in his desire to teach video production.
- Bring men and women who have a vision on using video to help spread the gospel, make a living and tell stories to change their world.
Prayers for Trip:
- The Holy Spirit will give us great discernment as to the spiritual battles around us.
- Protect us from any unnecessary health issues before we leave and during our trip.
- Give each member of our team a new or re-energized vision on how we can help accomplish His will for the people of the Congo.
- Give us the words and materials to present challenging new ideas to the young leaders and business owners of the Congo.
- Prepare the hearts of those He will bring to us while we are there and show us whom we should
For the team,