Good news: Keep praying!
The Word of God is penetrating the hearts and minds of His people in the Congo. Their stories appear below in their words.
I want to give you an update from Trip 7 in June. Who would have guessed that the first trip exactly five years ago would have led to seven trips so far. Not me, that is for sure. This trip was important because my family was able to meet the people who have been occupying my time. Just as a reminder, Pat, Ben and Emily went with me for the first time. It was good to be there together.
In addition to the business and spiritual training around the theme of Matthew 6:33, we taught the business students Microsoft Excel, distributed some Bibles (MP3 players), and delighted some people with laptop computers. Ben had worked hard to gather the computers and configure them for use in Congo.
Emily has much experience with kids in Africa. She wasted no time on this trip. She worked with street kids in a local ministry. In addition, she recorded the stories of 30 kids who need a sponsor for their education. (A congolese woman who is a friend of a friend is caring for these kids in her house. She treats them like her kids.) Emily also led an evangelistic outreach near a village church. It was fun to see her in action. She embraced ambiguity. Ambiguity looks like this: “Dad, how many people will be there? Will they speak English? Who will translate?” My answers were typically a combination of “I don’t know” and “God will provide.” And he did. In the end, she shared the gospel in fun creative ways with more than 70 children and more than a few adults. Ben, Pat and I served as her assistants. You can see some fun pictures at the end of the post.
For More Information
We will have a meeting to share more about the trip, what God seems to be doing in Bukavu, the volunteer opportunities in the States now, and plans for future trips.
We will meet on August 20, 2013 at 7:30pm at Grace Covenant Church, 9431 Jollyville Road. Come and be amazed by what God is doing.
Mark and Kenna Smith are leading a “scouting” trip in October 2012 to work with first responders. (Think firefighter and EMS – except there are none in Bukavu.) Mark’s dream is for churches to be a focal point of good and light in their communities. Mark is teaming up with a professional educator for first responders.
I am leading a trip in January 2014 to train YoungLife leaders how to start a business when they graduate from college. I am very excited about this pilot project with Africa Young Life. It meets a significant need for their leaders. YoungLife leaders serve for free while attending college; when they graduate, there are very few jobs. If the pilot is successful, working with YoungLife could provide a great way to expand the business seminars across sub-Saharan Africa. YoungLife leaders are well equipped spiritually and as leaders. They are prime candidates for starting businesses capable of employing other people.
What’s Not So Good
If the three loans that we have made were a ship, the ship would be “on the rocks.” I am quite frustrated by the situation. Each of the three situations is different. There does not seem to be common ground except money. I am beginning to believe that money just changes things. I have been brainstorming with others, thinking and praying as to what to do about the loan program moving forward. I had a strong sense that God was prompting us to make loans, but I am beginning to wonder if those loans were meant to be part of our “education” in the culture of DR Congo. Did I say that I was frustrated?
As I was discussing the situation with a local pastor, he said, “Just stop loaning money and tell them that they will find great value in the business seminars and consulting. You can help them put together information to raise money.” That was big. I realized that my faith was in the loans, not in God’s ability to provide from other sources. Ouch – another revelation of my weak faith and trusting in the world’s means.
- We want to increase the amount of teaching and learning that can be done between trips. We need someone who know or wants to learn WordPress in order to build multilingual blog that will have business and Bible content.
- We need businessmen who might want to explore doing the business seminars in another city.
- We want to take someone with educational experience (leadership, administration, teaching, counseling – not all in one person) and introduce them to some friends there.
Life In Their Words – Business and Bibles
“What you are trying to do is very difficult.”
A missionary working with an orphanage who was talking about teaching people how to start businesses capable of employing other people
“How can you come to a place like this? You like a schedule and order.”
Ben, my 15 year son, on his first day, having endured numerous hassles
“The people here are not friendly. They do not smile.”
Emily, my 22 year old daughter, on her first day, having endured numerous hassles
“Thanks again for your good news of the word of God you put in my life. Since I meet you everything come new in my life because I was far of God but now I need JESUS in all my life and in my business. Since I meet you now Jesus is number one in my business and in all. The Bible you give to me help me also.”
A rare entrepreneur in Bukavu who was paying the equivalent of 500% on his loans. I helped him think differently about his financing costs and options.
“Why are you selling flour? You are educated. You should be working in an office (for an NGO or the government).”
A friend of one of the participants in the business seminar after she started the business. Little did her friend know that she and her husband have grand plans to bring prosperity, predictability and the gospel to farmers in villages.
“We just started our business. It is much more difficult than I thought it would be.”
A participant in the business seminar finding out that some critical assumptions were not true; fortunately, he serves a big God
“Thank you for your email indicating that you remember us. We were very glad to see your family and we very much enjoyed the gift of the word of God. You asked us to read Matthew for five weeks but my wife and I have heard repeatedly the four Gospels and Acts of the Apostles. We do not have a specific schedule in May listening prayer every night before we can either repeat or start new chapters. God speaks to us in a special way. One evening we discussed how Peter had doubts on walking on water and found that fear and doubt can lead us to failure. Even our children begin to join us for our discussion. May God bless you and Christians who sent us the AudiBibles. We pray for you.”
One of the business seminar students, translated by Google
“About the AudiBible player, I would say that I am enjoyed it so much. It’s something you play even when you do not have power in our city in BUKAVU where electricity is a big problem. I have been listening to the books of 1st John, 2nd Corinthians, the gospel of John, the Psalms, and the other epistles of Paul. God is so marvelous, so enormous, so loving. What is sure is that He cares for us and we need to have our eyes fixed to Him, faithfully and for sure He shall astonish us.
One of the business seminar students
“I read it every day and I put it into practice. And I try to share with my friends. My friends had also appreciated the AudiBible bible and also need. During prayer, me and my friends listen together, and even outside of these hours. About God, He urges us to be in right relationship with each other and if we can, we can also help them to not be selfish.”
One of the business seminar students, translated by Google
“In fact, I have attached to this email some photos among which two of my sister’s friend listening to the AudiBible with a friend in the market. This AudiBible is easy to carry, good for educated and non-educated people. It allows, in the market, for that girl to talk about Jesus.
Others are of women from a church I visited. The group of women is constituted by women who cannot neither read nor write. They are victims of the male culture. While men were studying, these women were cultivating with their mothers or taking care of babies; and some of them where were obliged to stop studying by their parents in order to give to their brother the chance to study. Now, they have become adults. Now Jesus occupies the first place in their lives. They would love to share Him with others, but they cannot read and write. This AudiBible is a solution, because it is audible, easy to use and can be listened by more than one person at once.”
A trusted person who is helping distribute AudiBibles
“The main problem with business is that the government can take your things at any time.”
One of the business seminar students
“Thank you for opening my mind. You helped me put together a plan for my association that was funded because of what I learned.”
A business seminar student after I told him that I would not fund his business plan
“Congolese people starting a business don’t have patience. They need patience because every business has good times and bad times – patience is required for the bad times. They need to save money during the good times so they can exercise patience during the bad times.”
Newton, our faithful translator from Kenya
“It’s the law of the jungle. The people in power learned how to rule from the colonialists. When there is no law to regulate things (which there is not), the country becomes like a jungle. The powerful rule.”
A Congolese friend
I hope to see you on Tuesday, August 20.
P.S. Please keep praying for the Bible recipients:
- That they would continue to listen to God’s Word
- That they would respond to what they hear
- That they would listen with others
- That they would lead the change needed in eastern Congo