Why Congo Needs Us

Well, Paul and I returned last Sunday from our trip.  It was everything we hoped it would be.  In a previous email, I told you why I needed Africa.  In this email, I want to explain why Congo needs Paul and me.

In John 10:10, Jesus says, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have itabundantly.”  In Zambia and DR Congo this summer, I saw a lot of the stealing, killing and destroying.  I also some evidence of abundant life in a few people.

In 1 John 3:15-17, John summarizes the work of Jesus and what Jesus wants from us:  “We know love by this, that He laid down His life for us; and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren.   But whoever has the world’s goods, and sees his brother in need and closes his heart against him, how does the love of God abide in him?  Little children, let us not love with word or with tongue, but in deed and truth.”  I am struck by the fact that Jesus did not just lay down His life by dying, but He also laid down His life every day by serving others spiritually and physically.

John 10:10 summarizes the truth that needs to be proclaimed around the world.  1 John 3:15-17 summarizes the call to action for Christians in America to many places in the world, including Zambia and DR Congo.

During our time in Bukavu, DR Congo, Paul and I

  • Proclaimed the hope that we have in Jesus
  • Proclaimed the responsibility of believers to “seek first His kingdom and His righteousness”  (Matthew 6:33)
  • Taught pastors how to form “Bible Food for Life” listening groups so people could hear the promises of God and distributed solar powered MP3 players
  • Taught believers how to read the Bible
  • Counseled, encouraged and prayed with four men who want to start or grow businesses
  • Inspired children to seek truth and pursue education
  • Encouraged the few local missionaries

We worked hard to combine the spiritual and the physical.  While most people who visit Bukavu focus on the physical needs, Paul and I also see the tremendous spiritual needs.  In many ways, the believers serve a finite God.  They settle for a relationship with an impersonal, distant, even weak God.  They do not take God at His word.

And who could blame them?  They have been victimized for more than 100 years and have endured continuing violence and uncertainty for the last 17 years.

In Romans, Paul writes a lot about hope, specifically the hope that we should have in Christ.  Romans 15:13 says, “Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that you will abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.”  This hope, joy and peace are not generally seen in Bukavu.  That’s tragic.

Not only do the people of Bukavu have to endure the lack of electricity and water, the crowds, the dust, the mud, the violence, poor excuses for roads, corrupt and ineffective government, the absence of the rule of law, and high food and housing prices, they must also live without hope in a personal and powerful God.  They believe Americans and American churches are the solution to their problems.

What a poor substitute for hope based on the power and presence of Jesus Christ!

This trip was largely defined by (i) meetings with entrepreneurs who participated in our business seminar in October 2010 and (ii) the initiation of the Bible Food for Life listening groups.

The business initiative seems to be bearing fruit.  I am quite thankful for the results thus far and I pray that God would continue to work in the lives of these men.  They have tremendous courage and they listen well.  We will continue to work with them on their plans.  Here’s a brief summary of the businesses:

  • Internet café and software training
  • Clothing maker
  • Commercial chicken raising operation (much of the chicken is imported)
  • Food processor and distributor

We want to help these businesses succeed so that they can hire employees, bring new capabilities to Bukavu, serve as motivation for others, and most importantly, build God’s kingdom.  Will you join us in praying to those ends?

The pastors seemed to catch the vision for the Bible Food for Life listening groups.  We spoke about the Word of God blowing through the land like a strong wind with the goals of (i) changed hearts and minds and (ii) a growing submission to and dependence on God.  One of the pastors will be collecting reports on attendance and how the groups are working.  Please pray for the formation of the groups and the transformation of the people who listen.

Throughout all the work, we build relationships.  If you read the blog (www.CongoBlessings.org), then you know a wise young man that I call Solomon.  He writes regularly.  Solomon is a student and loves to read and write.  I continue to be amazed by the contrast between his gentle spirit and his convicting ideas.  Each day, he walked three hours round trip so that we can spend time together.   What commitment!  May God increase the number of men like him in Bukavu.

The people in Congo, Zambia and many other places in the world need people like Paul, me and you.  They might need us to do some “earthly” things, but as we are doing the earthly things, we must be sure that we speak of heavenly things.  That’s what Jesus did.

The requirements are pretty simple:

  • a willingness to go out on a limb and trust God in new ways
  • a willingness to endure the pain of seeing struggling people
  • time or money

I heard my daughter Emily say something interesting.  She said that God does not call the equipped; He equips the called.

I promise your investment of time or money and emotions will be rewarding, both now and in heaven.  You will experience the abundant life in new ways.  Your joy will be far greater than your pain.  These promises are not just mine; they are God’s (2 Corinthians 8 and 9, John 16:24, John 17:13).

God willing, the next trip will be in spring 2012.  Why don’t you come along?  I would like to take four or five people next time.  If you go to church in America, you are probably qualified.  We will also have some training to get ready. If you want to talk further, let me know.