Travel Diary 9: FAITHFUL WHILE ENDURING

Dear ITEM Friends and Family,

The Democratic Republic of the Congo was one the first countries where I got personally involved. It started as a church planting ministry in 2000 but has expanded into a vibrant training ministry as well. But I have not been there in over two years and neither has any US based ITEM associate. And there hasn’t been a lot of substantial reports coming from the team (mainly because only a couple of them speak any English at all), so I wasn’t sure what I would hear today but knowing the team as well as I do, I wasn’t surprised at what I heard. 

BACKGROUND

For those who are new to the DRC, here are a few statements that will serve as background.

  • It is a place where just about everyone has to figure out how to feed their family because there are not many jobs to be had. So, many of the 10mil who live in Kinshasa hit the streets daily to set up their own personal store with a few items to sell to make ends meet TODAY.
  • There are enough natural resources in the country that the DRC could feed 2/3 of Africa on their own if there was good resource management (the 2/3 figure in what I remember being told years and years ago),
  • The world bank computer once did an analysis of the economy of the DRC and concluded that there was no one living in the country.

With that as background, now some details about today.

FAITHFUL WHILE ENDURING 

The number of churches this group has planted now number 22 and from what I heard today, all of them are practicing expository preaching. But their influence reaches far beyond their own church’s walls. 

I gave all of them time to share what was happening in their family and church. I heard several stories of recent deaths in their families. And not just one here and one there, but multiple deaths. Besides that, Covid added to the already difficult situation in this poverty-stricken country. Yet, in the middle of all of this hardship, man after man spoke of how they continue to use ITEM materials in their families, churches, and in the opportunities that God gives them outside their own church.

It was so heartwarming to hear how they have been faithfully passing on what they have been taught and it was especially gratifying to hear them all talk about expository preaching. This group is sold out to our distinctives and continue to keep them in focus even though none of us have been there for over two years.

A BIG UNIFIED “THANK YOU”

In the middle of 2020, when the pandemic was hitting the world at full force, the DRC was hit hard economically. Survival is a challenge on good days but in the middle of a pandemic, survival is almost impossible. Well, because of the abundant generosity of ITEM donors, we were able to help financially throughout the second half of 2020. One of the team members said the aid was perfectly timed. Why? Because it provided what he needed to properly bury his mother who had just died. When Benoit, the ITEM country coordinator, closed the meeting, on behalf of the team, he thanked all of you again for your financial help! I thank you as well!

REENGAGING IN THE DRC

Though there has been ITEM ministry going on for 21 years here, the formal implementation of the E4 strategy has been dormant for the past three years, more or less. So, today we assessed where the ministry is at and how to reengage and start moving forward again. With all of the spontaneous, informal ministry that has been going, reengaging will not be difficult. 

One ITEM associate who has been working with this team in the past will be here in October. They will plan together how to gather those who have been through ITEM seminars in past years, do a refresher seminar, divide them into mentoring groups, and start the mentoring process. 

I am truly excited about what is about to take place here in the DRC as we reengage with this team that has remained faithful while enduring.

PRAYER and THANKSGIVING: 

  • THANKSGIVING: My covid test, taken at the airport upon arrival yesterday, was negative. It was my 5th test in 13 days. One more to go.
  • PRAY for smooth check in Friday morning at the French speaking airport. The process isn’t as straight forward as most airports.
  • PRAY for travel safety both on the streets and in the air. Streets and traffic here are pretty chaotic at times.
  • PRAY for a Zoom meeting Friday night where four or five of us will be discussing the possibilities of an introductory apologetics conference next spring gather decision makers to talk about organizing an apologetics ministry in all of East Africa. Pray for wisdom and agreement on the way forward.

Thanks again for caring and praying.

By His grace,

Steve

Pictures album: Because of connection issues, today’s pictures will be uploaded tomorrow.

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