It’s working.
That’s the overwhelming sense that I have from Trip 6.  Now, to be clear, I’m not bragging – for several reasons – it is a work of God; it is very much “in progress;” and it is a very tiny work, like a few drops of rain in a dry lake.
I was telling a missionary friend who used to live in Bukavu that it’s weird:  In Bukavu, the easy things are hard and the hard things are easy.  Maybe I need to start praying that God would also take care of the easy things (electricity, water, internet, government hassles) since He is the one who is making the hard things (introductions to people, relationship building) easy.  No doubt the hard things are easy due to your prayers.  (By the way, because God does the hard stuff, almost everyone is qualified to come on these trips.)
So what are we doing that is working?
One of the people that we helped expand his business put it this way:  “My family is actually fairly wealthy.  However, everyone thinks that what I am doing is crazy.  The people at my church think I am crazy.  The only people who don’t think I am crazy and encourage me to continue are you.”  That’s what we do:  We help them have courage and increase their faith by reminding them of God’s love, expressed in part by our presence, and God’s wonderful promises in His Word.
By the way, he’s not crazy; he’s just one of the few people in town who try to live by faith.  And he does.  It is quite inspiring actually.  More on him in a minute.
That’s not to say everything is going easily and according to plan.  It’s not.  One borrower’s market test does not warrant additional funding.  One borrower is behind on paying back his loan.  One borrower is behind in getting his business off the ground.  If we were batting, we would be 0 for 3 at this point in the game.
As you can see from by 0 for 3 scoring, by nature, I am a fairly binary guy – something is either good or evil, right or wrong.  I think that binary thinking may be why God sent me to Congo.  Binary thinking does not work well here.  Maybe I need to change – no emails on that topic, please.  🙂
So what’s the point?  All three borrowers test my binary thinking regularly.  When I am in the States I get frustrated because even after all of these trips, I forget about the reality of life in the Congo – difficult, confusing, rampant corruption, lack of trustworthy people, inability to trust, no rule of law, 20 years of violence, lack of information – I could go on.
As I said in an earlier email, this trip was hard to get going.  A friend provided some timely encouragement and words of wisdom – that He must increase and I must decrease.  Those words proved true – from checking in at the Austin airport to arriving in Bukavu to the one-on-one meetings with the business owners.
When I come here and speak to the business owners to whom we have extended loans, I learn that they are up to amazing things – things that are pleasing to God.  One borrower who employs people is encouraging his employees to start businesses.  Some of them attended our seminar one year ago, but only one submitted a plan.  They complain that our process is too difficult, that we want too much information, that it takes too long, etc.  He told them just to think small and start something.  If it makes sense, he will loan them a few hundred dollars to get started.  If it works, then they can work together on the more complete business plan and speak to us about funding.  What a great approach!  Congolese helping Congolese.  Praise God for His work!
It’s been a long day and we have another full day tomorrow so I am going to sign off.
Please keep praying.  God is faithfully answering your prayers, and the people here are better because of those prayers.  I am seeing it with my own eyes.
For the team,
P.S.  If you are on Facebook, you can check out our brief updates on “The Congo Purpose.”  Be sure to look for the video that describes what we do and share it with your friends.  We need more people to make the trip to encourage those few who are taking God at His Word.