“Pure and undefiled religion before God and the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their trouble…” James 1:27
Committed to Congo
“Why are these white men coming into our country when all the others are leaving?” the French speaking Congolese commander asked Pastor Jeff, our host. The scene was at a military road block soon after we crossed the border of Zambia in December, on our way to Lubumbashi, DR Congo.
Our team was on the way to visit our friends at Bishop Lamba Lamba’s ‘Come and See’ church.
Before the Commander arrived on the scene, a young soldier, with an AK47 slung over his shoulder, stopped our vehicle and went crazy shouting and screaming – I thought he was on drugs. By God’s Grace Bishop John Jere, Ron, Dave and I, all squashed up in the mini-van, survived this ‘prayer enhancing’ experience.
The Congo had just had their second national elections in over 50 years and citizens were waiting in anticipation for the results that had been delayed for over a week. These were announced 5 hours after our arrival.
This was a volatile situation – the US State Department had issued travel warnings for the Congo until January.
It is difficult to imagine the political stress of such an environment, but to put it plainly, the whites were getting out until the hostile political environment had calmed down and we were going in the opposite direction – into the ‘fire’, to preach the Gospel.
Shortly after our arrival in Lubumbashi, we were interviewed on city-wide television. Our team then ministered by preaching and teaching to around 600 attendees on each of the Friday and Saturday afternoons and 3000 on Sunday morning.
I was elated when Ron and Dave of the Springfield, VA based Men’s Praise Movement, were adamant: suspended flights and dangerous political unrest was not going to stop us from fulfilling our mission to encourage, support and reach out to our Congolese brothers and sisters, who permanently live in hostile circumstances.
The reason we were driving into the Congo with Bishop John Jere, and not flying, was because the newly elected Zambian government had withdrawn the operating license of the privately owned Zambezi Airlines. This incident that was sold to the public on the grounds of ‘safety’, appeared conspicuously political in nature – apparently the new government wants to re-open its previously bankrupt national air carrier.
Each of our team lost US$750 on the suspended flights before the ministry trip even started. Not helpful when we were going to feed ‘orphans in their trouble’. Yet, Ron and Dave were encouraged when they found the ground into which they sowed the Gospel, to be very fertile.
Feeding the hungry in Zambia
Ron, Dave and I, armed with corn meal and a saxophone, ventured with Bishop John Jere into Linda Compound, near Lusaka, to support the feeding of orphans in an area where we are co-laboring with John to plant a church. Lord willing, the project will in the future encompass medical support, education and a feeding scheme for widows and orphans. There are no medical clinics or basic schools in the area.
The very next day we were in a ‘shanty town’ at a local orphanage feeding more children, distributing Bibles and Gospel literature and reaching out to locals with the Gospel.
The children loved Ron’s music. Look at their faces:
Ministering to the children in CongoThe children were not only fed, but Ron and Dave blessed them with ‘real’ soccer balls, not ones made of leaves in plastic bags.
The children were beside themselves from excitement. Here were people who really cared for, played with, entertained, fed and taught them about someone who cared even more dearly about each one of them, than we ever could – the Lord Jesus Christ.
It is because of Him we do these things.
Charl van Wyk