Congo – Thriving through Tragedy

From the moment I landed in the Congo, I could feel the uneasiness in the city. Although there was a sense of stability due to a peace deal struck last fall, there was an underlying current of volatility. In order to bring peace, the government decided to give each of the rebel factions a position of power. Currently there are four vice-presidents in the country. One of them keeps a helicopter in his yard in case he has to make an escape.

Life is extremely difficult in the Congo. Years of suffering as a result of the previous regime and the devastating effects of war have left the people beaten down and oppressed, desperately looking for today’s meal and hope for tomorrow. The devil is wreaking his havoc of evil and poverty while the country is trying to piece itself back together. I am praying that the response to the Gospel will begin to penetrate political and economical structures so that corruption and poverty will be broken.

Along with me on this trip were Pastor Joe Mason (who pastors Lighthouse Christian Fellowship in Kitty Hawk, North Carolina) and Don Shotton. Pastor Joe is a gifted teacher and I know that many people were touched by his ministry. Don’s testimony and words of encouragement in each service brought healing to many.

It was a joy to connect again with my good friends, Pastors Israel and Rachel Nsembe, who pastor a church of over 6,000 in Kinshasa. I felt incredible freedom and anointing as God gave me the grace to preach and minister in French. There was such an emotional and spiritual connection with the people.

From Kinshasa, we made plans to go and minister in Kimpese, a town about three and a half hours outside the city. As we prepared for our trip, we received news that soldiers from the previous regime were raiding the area as bandits. Three weeks before we arrived, they had plundered the area, leaving 21 dead in a wake of anger and greed. Thankfully we arrived in Kimpese without any difficulties.

With a population of about 30,000, the town of Kimpese has been hammered by witchcraft and poverty. We taught at a pastor’s seminar in the afternoons and ministered in revival meetings in the evening.

Many were touched during the revival meetings, but one particular testimony stands out in my mind. I had a word of knowledge that there was someone there who was suicidal. At first there was no response. Then slowly a young teenage girl who had been sitting outside made her way to the front. She was shocked and visibly touched by the fact that God loved her and cared enough to speak specifically to her. My heart burned with thankfulness at the Lord’s compassion as I watched Pastor Israel minister healing and freedom to her. To my knowledge, there were 63 decisions for Christ during the two meetings.

One afternoon we were asked to visit a ministry for children. Listening to them worship was a moving experience. Pastor Israel shared with the children his testimony: when he was four years old his Dad died, but God sustained him and became his Daddy. The service was followed by a wonderful meal for the children. I can’t even find the words to express my emotions as we helped to serve the food. I choked back tears so I could smile at each precious child. But all I wanted to do was weep.

On the way back to the capital, we ran into a barricade manned by police. Their comment: “We heard there were foreigners taking pictures in Kimpese.” We were taken into the county headquarters and questioned at length. Although historically this has always been the game of corruption, there was some legitimacy to the questioning. A couple of years ago a mercenary running arms across the border claimed to be a missionary. I praise God that pastors and those in the ministry have a good reputation in the Congo. We were released after about an hour.

I am so thankful for those that intercede for our ministry and for God’s protection. Congo is a place where violence can explode in an instant. But God is doing incredible things in that nation.

 

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