From Greg:

Mike has been on five previous trips to the Congo, beginning in 2012. It has been two years since our last trip. As we arrived in Bukavu, we wondered what we would find. Would people remember the things that we had taught them? Would they be using those things to improve their lives and the lives of others?

One thing that we found is that God has used Mike to develop some great leaders. Those leaders are sharing Mike’s ideas and training with others. Mike’s work and reputation is spreading. It was very satisfying to see the fruit from Mike’s love and labor.

What have we learned from watching Mike? Mike’s neighbors are no longer just next door; they are also in Africa. As Mike follows Jesus’ commands to love his neighbors in Africa, God is blessing his love and labor. Mike’s love is practical – teaching skills that will help people do what God designed them to do.

Perhaps God has plans for you to use your skills and experience to love a neighbor in the Congo. Email me at Congo[dot]herring-group[dot]com if you want to discuss the possibilities.

From Mike:

Greetings from the Congo,

God is good! We came here this year to listen and see what God is doing here in Bukavu, Congo. After 10 years of working on the idea of helping men and women start businesses, without much luck as far as we could see, we learned an important lesson. We often do not realize the impact of our lives on others. We measured our success by the number of business plans and success in implementing them. At our first meeting on this trip we met with people here interested in our new Facebook initiative, a local bishop who Greg had met previously, told us in introducing himself that he was inspired by what we had taught him and was moved to start a business. He went to Rwanda, which is just across the border, bought some flour, and began to sell it here in Bukavu. He was very successful in his business and soon he began to give micro loans to others here to start their own business. I met with a young man, DeGaulle, who was in my video workshop on my second trip who now has a music recording studio where he produces music and music videos. He is able to support his family: a wife, two kids and his mother.

All of this was happening behind the scenes. God has been working. So cast your bread upon the waters, spread your seeds in a broad manner because you may not know how your return will come or what will grow; this is up to God.

We are conducting listening meetings where people are telling us how we can help. The meetings have been fruitful. One story about the mp3 Bibles: an 8 year old boy has gotten one of the Bible players in his village from a pastor and now has memorized 4 chapters of the Bible and can recite them.

My reputation has now spread in Bukavu. One of the radio journalists that I have trained in audio and video over the past few years, asked me to do a half day training for the association of radio and television journalists while I am here. I was not expecting to do any large class training this trip, but had planned to concentrate on a few people I had brought equipment to. I had brought some training materials for a young man, Prince, for him to use in his training business; so I just opened a chapter of the materials, went over it the night before, and had it available on my computer during the class. They were all appreciative of the class and want me to do a three day training next year. I met the assistant director and director of the organization. I also got to visit an NGO that help journalists in Bukavu. They too want me to do some training. A local missionary wants video training and my friend, Prince wants me to train some people. There is a lot of demand for video training, enough for several years to come.

Computer training is also a big need here. We are talking to a local friend who is trying to get a contract with the government to train primary, secondary and older youth on how to use and program computers. He will need to buy 200 computers that are low power, because the power here is not dependable and alternative sources are expensive.

There are lots of projects here that can use the help of the smart and loving people of Austin, Texas. Not just money, but knowledge and creativity and encouragement. Ideas are small here for the average person. The Belgians and Catholic church taught the people here that you just pray and God will open the roof of your house and shower down all of your material needs; you don’t need to work hard.

On Wednesday, we took a break and went to see the Eastern Lowland Gorillas at Kahuzi-Biega refuge park. It was a long arduous walk through the jungle, but it was worth it to see a large silverback and one of his wives and baby. I have some great video and pictures I will share.

On Friday, we left Bukavu for Rwanda, just across the border, to help conduct a leadership conference held by a pastor friend of ours. We were guest speakers. I spoke on “stories”, how we tell stories to ourselves, our cultural stories, Christ stories and how we communicate to each other through stories. I concentrated on our internal stories like I am not good enough, I am not smart enough, the government needs to do everything, that’s the way it has always been, and it does not matter what I do – nothing will change. I shared God’s story on how He loves us and gives us power through His Spirit. So pray that God will cause the leaders to remember my words and use them to encourage the men and women here who are in leader roles.

God bless you all for your prayers.

Mike Scheffelin