Update from Pat:
We arrived in Bukavu on Thursday and hit the ground running. Entering this country is always a shock to our senses.
With the help of our good friend Solomon translating, Greg and Mike Marshall led all day trainings with 125 pastors Friday and 84 pastors and government leaders Saturday. They encouraged the pastors and government leaders to be willing to learn to innovate and to lead for good. Congolese are extremely resistant to change. The people live in deplorable conditions, and rather than looking for solutions, most pastors, government workers, and other leaders tend to blame others and list excuses. The common belief is that the only way to improve lives is for the government/ western governments/ NGOs/ etc. to give them things. Surrounding countries have made incredible advances in the last few years, but Congo continues to stay the same, or, in many cases, fall further behind. Greg, Mike and Solomon cast vision to encourage them to change their thinking, and to live differently. They encourage them to look for solutions, and to start businesses that will improve life in the Congo – very foreign concepts, which are met with skepticism – and usually, more excuses.
Sadly, corruption is rampant among both government leaders and pastors – people who should be leading Congo to change. Life here is so very difficult, and those who have the power to improve things for the people often exploit the people and do little to help.
To combat the belief that people can’t change their circumstances, Greg teaches 5 key principles from Genesis – 1) we are made in God’s image; therefore, created to create, 2) subdue the earth, 3) we are designed to work 4) work will be hard, and 5) work brings joy. He encourages entrepreneurship and problem solving.
Mike shared Steven Covey’s 7 Habits of Highly Effective People and encouraged the leaders to examine their values, develop a vision, read the Bible, pray, and move forward individually and as a country.
Greg uses the example that farmers here still farm with a hoe. When he asks groups about this, he is told that someone should give them tractors. Greg encourages them to look at the problem differently. He tells them that someone in the room could start a business and make animal-drawn plows. The country has wood, steel, welders and the internet to do research. Someone just needs to do the work. Casting vision.
It is all a very long process since doing business in the Congo is exceedingly difficult, and there are so few people doing business here. In fact, the World Bank publishes a list each year of countries in terms of ease of doing business. For 2020, Congo is 183 out of 190.
Thankfully there are wonderful exceptions to these generalizations. It is lonely and difficult for those who are counter-cultural and are willing to work hard, learn, and improve things. We pray that God will lead us to those people, and He does. Last night we spent time with a pastor who had ridden a motorcycle taxi 6 hours on washed out roads to come to the seminar. This pastor spoke impeccable English. When we asked how he learned English, he explained that he wanted to go to a Bible college in Nairobi and needed to speak English to be eligible. He used a Bible in his native language, one in French, and then bought an English Bible and studied the 3 Bibles together. He taught himself English. He knew some English speakers, so when he had questions, he would ask them for help. Humbling. He has started 9 churches in his village and pursues learning all he can to lead his people well. He explained that the people did not have Bibles because they are very expensive. We gave him 27 solar powered Bibles to take back to his churches. (For a little context on “expensive,” he rode a motorcycle taxi instead of taking a faster and more comfortable boat ride. The boat ride was almost twice as expensive as riding on the back of the motorcycle. He saved $6.00 – that’s not a typo.)
This is just a snapshot of one aspect of the trip. Another snapshot is that Mike Sheffelin got together with Prince on Sunday within an hour of our arrival. Prince is one of those people who is an exception. Mike and Josh Cox have worked closely with Prince and several others in video training for years and communicate regularly with Prince and others when we are in Austin. Prince, because of the training and equipment that Mike and Josh have provided, was hired to do several days of videoing for an NGO. Mike was able to assist Prince in the filming on Sunday. What a joy!
Each day is very full, from morning until late at night.
Mike S and Josh will continue leading their very popular 6-day video training, which always includes many hours with individuals outside of the actual training times.
Greg and Mike M will meet with many individuals and do their training seminars for many groups, including the Africa Mupya Facebook group. They formed the private FB group, which currently has 800 people, with a strategy to target young men in the Bukavu area with the intention of taking an enormous group for casting vision, and then sifting the group to find those individuals who have the potential to change this country.
I am looking forward to spending time on Tuesday with a wonderful ministry to women who are victims of sexual violence.
While all of that is happening, Greg and Mike are spending a lot of time continuing to mentor Solomon. I wrote about him in a letter last year. He translates and does a lot of set up work for Greg, but he is also a dear friend. We learn so much about the culture from Solomon, and he and Greg are very close. Solomon and Philip, another exception and translator, stay at our hotel and go to dinner with us each night, partially so that mentoring can be done throughout the time we are in Bukavu.
So much going on each day we are here! I’m sorry the email got so long.
We covet your prayers and will send another update as soon as we can.