God at work: stories from the CongoPosted: August 18, 2014
August 14: Witnessing Growth
After a long flight to Johannesburg, South Africa and a night of rest, our group flew to Lubumbashi in the Democratic Republic of Congo. We visited the English Speaking School, which has been in existence since 1975, as well as three churches. Two of the three churches have construction projects underway and are advancing as funds are being raised. It is encouraging to see the progress in all three churches. We were filled with hope during our visit to Lubumbashi as there is great effort being made to become self-sufficient congregations, even in those areas where there is great poverty.
August 15: Celebrating as the Body of Christ
Today we boarded the “Wings of the Morning”, a 14-passenger Cessna Blackhawk provided by partnerships across the connection with the General Board of Global Ministries. I was pleased to know we were flying on a plane that the Tennessee Conference helped purchase. We were flown to Kindu where we met Bishop Unda and the United Methodists of East Congo. Our group was greeted with singing, flowers, a brass band, and great joy! It was a beautiful welcoming experience of radical hospitality. After settling our belongings in our hotel, we gathered in one of the Kindu Churches for a service of praise and thanksgiving. Some pastors walked as much as 40 kilometers just to be present at the celebration and later walked home because there was no place to sleep.
August 16: Finding Hope in the Midst of Tragedy
Our morning took us to visit three congregations in various stages of development. The differences in these churches ranged from a new church plant on the edge of the city that is no more than a thatched structure to one that is being upgraded with a tin roof, walls, and concrete floors. During our time here, we learned much about the devastation of the 15-year war and the ways in which women and children were abused. Sadly many continue to be abused by soldiers and police with little intervention. It is overwhelming to comprehend that in this war, 800,000 were killed in Rwanda by genocide and 6,000,000 died in Eastern Congo.
We are asked at every turn to pray for peace and healing of the land. I hope you will join with me in prayer for these people who are our brothers and sisters in Christ.
Sunday, August 17 will be a special day as we dedicate the episcopal residence called the “McAlilly House”. This home was built for the Bishop of the Eastern Congo and funded by the generous offerings from the Memphis and Tennessee Conferences. It will be a joyous celebration for the people of The United Methodist Church. I have been given the honor of preaching for that service and pray that God will be glorified and the Church will be blessed by my offering of God’s Word.
God is at work here in many ways and I give thanks to God for this opportunity.