We are off on another trip to Bukavu in eastern Congo – the 13th trip. We are in the air as I write this update. We left Tuesday and arrive on Thursday.
Why do we keep going?
I suppose everyone has different reasons.
For me, there are two simple reasons: I absolutely hate seeing the circumstances in which people in eastern Congo live. I think Jesus created me to do something about those circumstances. So I keep going. Because I am doing what God designed me to do, it is not a burden. To be sure, there is an incredible amount of time, energy and money involved, but with the work comes joy, great joy.
The second reason is more personal. Jesus uses this effort to teach me and transform me.
The trips are just a part of our year-round effort to grow relationships. We think relationships help accelerate growth and change.
So what do we do?
We teach truth that is relevant to the horrible circumstances that we see. We have seen truth set people free. Think of it as opening new possibilities. If you never knew that something was possible, how would you ever learn unless someone told you? When you learn these things, then you are free to embrace them.
The people we meet are remarkably content. I could learn a lesson from them about contentment and living in the moment. Electricity for a few hours per day? No problem. Witch doctors practicing witchcraft? Just hope to avoid them. Shortages of food and other supplies? Just learn to do with less. No water for days? Just get a jug and spend hours to go find some. Corruption in the government, schools, and police? “Greg, that’s just part of life.”
I look at every one of those situations as a problem begging for a solution. But if they had my view of the world, they would die from stress.
So what do we do?
We bring truth.
We want them to know that God created them for a purpose. We want them to know that the reality in which they live is not what God intends. We want them to know that there is great joy in creating what God designed them to create. We want them to know that problems can be solved and if they start a business, they can be paid for solving problems.
We want them to know Jesus. We want them to know that Jesus is a personal and powerful provider for His people. We want them to know the power of Jesus in their lives – that with repentance, He can bring new life. We want them to know that through Jesus, they have authority over the witchdoctors and can defeat their schemes.
One problem with bringing truth is that it can seem like we are bringing accusations. Please pray that people would see bringing truth as a compassionate response to their circumstances.
Jesus combined the physical and the spiritual. He spoke about spiritual truth as He was healing people physically. Mike Marshall and I bring spiritual truth and practical advice about business and leadership. Mike Scheffelin and Josh Cox bring spiritual truth and practical advice related to video production and storytelling. Stories provide hope and inspiration – something desperately needed. Pat’s focus is people. She reminds us through her interactions that the work is about people, not a project.
None of our effort “works” without the Holy Spirit invading people’s hearts. Would you pray to that end? That people would be open to our teaching and be willing to take a leap of faith for both, for their spiritual well-being.
We plant “seeds” of truth by taking solar-powered MP3 players with the Bible in French, Swahili, Lingala, Kinyarwandan, and English. These players go primarily to rural people. Most of our other work is with urban people. We think in terms of “adopting” the recipients of these players so that they can hear the truth that will set them free. Their lives look even worse than the people with whom we meet in the city.
We brought 400 with us this year. If you would like to “adopt” a group of recipients, you can pray for them, and Give Online through Grace by clicking on the secure “Online Giving Through Realm” button. In the dropdown for where to direct the gift, please select “Congo General / Bibles”.
The following provides more details about what we are doing and what to pray. But please remember, pray more for our audience than for us.
- Meet with a group of pastors and a group of government officials to cast a vision of truths that can set their people free.
- We will distribute solar-powered MP3 players with the Bible in French and Swahili through faithful leaders.
- Meet with members of our private Facebook group, Africa Mupya (Swahili for a “new” Africa), to cast vision and train them to start and grow businesses.
- Meet with the fifth class of the 1-year Leadership Academy that we helped found. We will encourage them to be like Nehemiah.
- Teach a 6-day class on storytelling and video production skills.
- Exhort people to trust in the provision of Jesus Christ. When one lives in a society that has been victimized for generations, one ceases to believe that Jesus Christ is personal and powerful.
Prayers for Leadership Development:
- Direct Paul in growing the Leadership Academy. Pray that the new leaders would learn to walk closely with Jesus and be courageous like Nehemiah.
- Challenge Solomon in a new way to see how he can be used to help the people of the Congo.
Prayers for Bible Distribution:
- Help us grow our network of faithful people to distribute Bibles and follow up with the people who receive them to help them lead listening groups.
- That the recipients would share the Word with many others. That they would listen to God’s Word together, grow together and lead together.
Prayers for Business Formation:
- Give us wisdom in helping the members of the Africa Mupya Facebook Group start and grow businesses.
- Help us identify faithful people to continue to train and mentor after the trip through Facebook Messenger.
Prayers for Storytelling and Video Production:
- Help Mike and Josh mentor Prince in his desire to teach video production.
- Bring men and women who have a vision on using video to help spread the gospel, make a living and tell stories to change their world.
Prayers for the Trip:
- The Holy Spirit will give us great discernment as to the spiritual battles around us.
- Protect us from any unnecessary health and safety issues before we leave and during our trip.
- Give each member of our team a new or re-energized vision on how He wants us to help accomplish His will for the people of the Congo.
- Give us the words and materials to present challenging new ideas to the young leaders and business owners of the Congo.
- Prepare the hearts of those He will bring to us while we are there and show us whom we should mentor.
- Pray for unity on the team.