Mike Scheffelin and Josh Cox have been training people in one of the poorest countries of the world to tell stories through video. Does that seem odd to you – really poor people and video training? 

Here’s why it is so important: People in the poorest countries often are defeated and without hope.  Stories provide hope. Stories can change the way people think. In the context of training, they are creating mentoring relationships. 

(As a frame of reference, we know people who are thrilled to have a job that pays $50 per month for working six days per week even though Bukavu is not a cheap place to live.) 

Here’s Mike Scheffelin’s email: 

Greetings from Bukavu, DRC (Democratic Republic of the Congo). This is my tenth trip to the Congo with the Congo Blessing team led by Greg Herring. This year we are five people spreading the word of God, teaching business skills, teaching video production skills, mentoring and encouraging our friends to be courageous thinkers, to think outside the cultural norm and rely on God to help them in their lives.  

For several years, Josh Cox and I have been teaching how to tell stories using video. We never know how many students we are going to have. Last year we had over 40, which made it difficult to do hands-on training or one-on-one instruction. That is why we tried to create a class this year, by invitation, 8 to 10 people. We had twenty-two people show up. I brought 10 computers on which to conduct the training. Four were broken in transport. The remaining six worked well and we had four groups of students each produce a one-minute video and edit it to a final product. I am very proud of each of our teams who produced a product with very little time.  

This year Josh and I included a 30-minute Bible study each day of our seven day-training. The topic was on how to be successful in any area of life taken from a book based on Proverbs, written by Steven Scott. It is the wisdom of God presented to Solomon and applied to our modern times. Most of the students showed up early to take part in the study and said they really appreciated us including it in our training. We are trying our best to make sure they have the best chance possible to succeed in their aspirations to be journalists or video producers. Over the past four or five years, I have seen several students return to our trainings. They have reported that it has made a difference in their ability to create videos and get work. We give out certificates at the end of the class and some have told me that their certificate has gotten them a job. 

I began mentoring a young man here in Bukavu, Chikala (Prince) Mehaigo, several years ago, who approached me at our hotel the day we arrived and said he wanted to learn video and create a studio where he could make videos and teach. Today he is a successful businessman in video and is at the point where he can start his studio with the help of a local organization called Focus Congo. It is run by an ex-patriot Congolese man named Pappy Orion. He lives in Germany and returns to Congo about four times a year to help the Focus Congo team and work on a documentary about the beauty of the Congo and about the people who are trying to make a difference here. Last year I returned a second time to help him and his partner work on the documentary. 

We are also moving forward with several friends we have made through the video training, some government officials and the Focus Congo team, to create a film festival where the people learning video can have an outlet to show their work. We finally have a local man who will do the heavy lifting in organizing the event sometime next year.  

Last year when I came the second time, I got to meet the Focus Congo team and even stayed with them in a home while we worked on the documentary, Kytoko Oyo (This Beauty). I got to be friends with the Focus Congo’s organizer, Pappy, and his brothers and sisters who were our support team. One of his brothers is named Valentine, called Big from a shortened version of his Congolese name. We became good friends and I got to meet his wife and children, go to church with him, and hang out during our off times. He calls me his father. This year he attended our training and helped organize all the logistics necessary to have the class each day. He is one of the people who was particularly impressed by the Proverbs study. One day he approached me and told me that he wanted me to help him become a Christian. Through the study and my willingness to come each year to help and teach them, God had stirred his spirit. Praise God that his kingdom has a new member. I give God all the glory and I thank you for your support that has allowed me to come to the Congo each year to share God’s love and have a better life.  

Josh and I will go on safari in Rwanda the last two days of our trip before returning home. We are looking forward to taking pictures and video of the beautiful animals of Africa.  

By the way, Josh and I both can report that the Proverbs study has begun to make an impact on our lives, and I look forward to becoming more and more like Christ every day.  

Mike Scheffelin 

P.S. Pappy and Big’s mother died yesterday and they need your prayers.