Sunday, October 25, 2009

Ecole de Femmes

On Wednesday we took videos and snapshots of the women in our literacy school. I wish you could have seen them singing, sewing, knitting, and reading Scripture for themselves. One of the tough decisions we had to make this month was to hold off taking any more new students because the school does not receive enough outside financial suppo9rt. It breaks my heart to turn the women away. We met with 2nd and
3rd year studnet, but there are no first year students this trimester.

We asked 3 of them to give their testimonies. One young woman said she was in such chains of darkness before coming to school that she felt imprisoned in ignorance. She knew none of the alphabet. She could not write her name nor could she read anything. There was such joy on her face as she spoke of not only her deliverance from pure drudgery and ekking out a physical existence, but also of her new transformation spiritually. She was lost, but now she is found. We stood there in awe of the reality of the Holy Spirit in her life with tear-filled eyes.

Oh Lord, my heart is full of praise for your unfathomable love, for godly professors who literally become mamas to the younger women and loving sisters to the older ones, and for empowering souls to live above the despair of self-abasement and the shroud of hopelessness their circumstances often dictate. Truly, the same dynamos that raised Jesus from the dead has also resurrected them from the bondage of sin and death. II Corinthians 5:17

Friday, October 23, 2009

Out of the darkness into His light

Some of the evils people in Congo have been delivered from:

the darkness of cannibalism

the darkness of various forms of witchcraft

the darkness of murdering through food poisoning

the darkness of child sacrifice

the darkness of worhiping manure

the darkness of visiting cemeteries to call evil spirits out of dead bodies for protection

the darkness of the myriad faces of idolatry

the darkness of ignorance that paralyzes

the darkness of trying to please the spirits of their ancestors by dancing 3 days straight

the darkness of offering the poison cup to determine guilt or innocence in that person's life

the darkness of believing that sickness and death stem only from the power of evil spirits

Now the mind of the flesh which is sense and reason without the Holy Spirit is death--death that comprises all the miseries arising from sin, both here and hereafter. But the mind of the Holy Spirit is life and soul, peace both now and forevermore. Romans 8:6 amp

Out of the darkness into His light

Some of the evils people in Congo have been delivered from:

the darkness of cannibalism

the darkness of various forms of witchcraft

the darkness of murdering through food poisoning

the darkness of child sacrifice

the darkness of worhiping manure

the darkness of visiting cemeteries to call evil spirits out of dead bodies for protection

the darkness of the myriad faces of idolatry

the darkness of ignorance that paralyzes

the darkness of trying to please the spirits of their ancestors by dancing 3 days straight

the darkness of offering the poison cup to determine guilt or innocence in that person's life

the darkness of believing that sickness and death stem only from the power of evil spirits

Now the mind of the flesh which is sense and reason without the Holy Spirit is death--death that comprises all the miseries arising from sin, both here and hereafter. But the mind of the Holy Spirit is life and soul, peace both now and forevermore. Romans 8:6 amp

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Called to Memory

The rainy season is officially underway in Congo. This means there is little cloud cover and the air can be stagnant with heat from the tropical sun. Since the mission campus is in a valley, it makes it even hotter. With no air conditioning, we can become drenching wet with perspiration in no time. Our elevation is only 1600 feet above sea level.

However, about 4 p.m., a breeze begins to stir at the site of our airstrip. From our house, it takes about 25 minutes to climb what we call Aerobic hill and make our way to the hanger. During our second term here, I often found great solace walking the 3400 foot long strip each afternoon to pray. It is sacred ground to me, as I remember pouring my heart out to God when I missed our children terribly while they were in boarding school 450 miles away. When an evil national pastor tried to have us deported from Congo, when spiritual wars were raging around us.

Over the years while here, I have made it a delightful practice to continue those prayer walks. Recently, as I was praying there, I remembered some incredible events that took place in the '90s. 1993 was the year of great pillaging in Congo. Many missions were ransacked. Their equipment was devoured by rebels. Twenty years worth of our tools were taken, all of Jim's beloved hunting guns were stolen, and basically, anything that could be carried away, was plundered.

1997 was another year to remember. Sitting under the hanger was our little Texas taildragger, an aerobatic 150 that our former mission board procured for us through an insurance agency. That plane has been used to save lives, hold evangelism, drop notes in villages to give them a heads-up of our team coming to preach the Word of God, open the airstrip at Iwungu, and start our second Bible Institute. It is highly treasured by the local population. For miles around, there are no other planes at mission campuses.

One day, a group of pilots flew in from Kinshasa to steal our little yellow "bird." Our plane was in good shape, but not one of those experienced national pilots could get it started. So they decided to burn it. News of their plans spread rapidly. Soon a crowd gathered at the hanger, fell on their knees, and begged the men not to burn that plane. Remarkably, the pilots listened, got back into their own planes, and flew away. When Jim, Todd, and Jack returned to war-torn Congo later on that year, Jim got into the plane and started it up with absolutely no difficulty.

The Lord recapped Israel's downfall in Psalm 78. He gives a running account of His mighty works performed in Egypt, as well as their deliverance from Egypt, and the miracles He performed in the desert. Until He actually slew some of them, they chose not to remember His great acts and continued to show disbelief and rebellion.

When we remember His glorious undertakings, with which He has chosen to pave our paths, we cannot help but be encouraged that He will show the same faithfulness in the future. So I, too..."will tell the praiseworthy deeds of the Lord and His might and the wonderful works that He has performed." Psalm 78:4

Monday, October 19, 2009

Righteous Indignation

Tonight, after a full day's work, we made the 30 minute drive to Mpene--the village that aggressively resisted Dr. Smith's coming here in 1947 and has strongly fought us since 1979. Three thousand people gathered around two dozen chairs that were set up for us and some of our pastors. The first meeting was supposed to include only the village chiefs of Mpene, the pastors there, and our pastors. Our national director, Gary Kapinga, made introductory remarks. Then I spoke a few words, and Jim stood and reminded them of the seriousness of their offenses two years ago. He was very animated and told them they had better seek Jesus. He asked them why they had sought his blood, and did they not understand that when they attacked the mission campus, people could have been killed? He thanked them for inviting us, but told them that they needed to remember the brevity of their actions. The Congolese tend to just want things to be right and forget their wrongs. They don't really want to acknowledge the damage and consequences of their actions.

Tonight was a night toward reconciliation. We must proceed with caution and give them time to further consider the seriousness of their behavior. Thank you for your prayers. Jesus is the Victor and He will show us how to respond. We were happy to go and return in His name. Please continue to pray because you never know, but God does.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

An Historical Day

Monday, October 19, 2009, will be a first for Laban Ministries, Congo. In 1938, when Dr. and Mrs. Smith arrived here, they were well received at Kajiji, then Iwungu, and finally at Nkara, except for one village. The name of that village is Mpene, and they refused to welcome and embrace the Smiths. So was the case when we came here in 1978. One man, in particular, from that village, has fought our presence here in Congo and has exerted his evil influence on the ministry and his own village of Mpene. We have rocks thrown at us and our evangelism team has been refused admittance in the past.

An uncooperative spirit has prevailed to the point of refusing Campus Crusade--whose policy is not to go anywhere unless the local pastors unanimously invite them to come in--in the '80s. This reprobate "pastor" was in charge of the state-operated high school here on campus. His requirement for the young women to pass their exams was demanding sexual favors from them. He pocketed tuition funds and teachers' salaries and required the students who paid dorm fees, which included a feeding program, to go scrounge for food in the forest. He threatened to cut the heads off of some of our pastors and threatened to poison others with his witchcraft brews. He has ravaged women, cheated the local church, and infiltrated his hatred for us, Laban, and the gospel for decades.

His village has sent five to our Bible Institute, five to our work staff, and has been a menace to the work here at Nkara, and, in general, to this region of Congo. He was defrocked as a pastor by the national Congolese church, but still held tremendous sway through his tribe and the schools in which he continued to be involved.

He was Satan with skin on and he wreaked havoc until this year when he died. To put it in the words of the chief of Mpene, "Satan claimed his worker and now they are together."

Jean Kapinga, wife of our national director Gary Kapinga, is now president of the local women's federation. She was invited to speak to the mamas at Mpene just before we returned to Congo this time. The chief openly apologized with a contrite heart and asked for forgiveness for all the horror that this man had caused us all these years. He then invited our leaders, our evangelism team, and Jim and I to come preach in the village where they want to publicly make their regrets known and ask for forgiveness.

THIS HAS NEVER HAPPENED BEFORE. Since 1947, this village has stood out as an enemy of the gospel of Jesus Christ. In fact, in 2007, they sent a mob here to attack Jim, destroyed much of our Bible school roof, put holes in the church roof, and claimed this must have "a little of Jim's blood." Local soldiers and police from Bulungu were driven in to protect him. He was a prisoner here in his own home for days until the village of Mpene and its sister village, Mibere, were dealt with by the local authorities. They were told that if they ever again posed a threat to Nkara or Jim, their villages would be burned to the ground. The real truth is, the troops wanted to burn the villages of Mpene and Mibere right then, but Jim said no. He remembered how devastating our home fire was to our family. If God opens the door, no man can shut it.

Please pray as we go in Jesus' victorious name. Amen.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

New Lab Tech at Nkara

I just met with our new lab tech and was so excited I had to share the good news with you. In all our history here at Nkara, never have we had a more capable lab technician because they are hard to come by, and we would prefer that they know the Word of God. Kilasi, a graduate of Laban, has just finished specialty school in Kikwit. He managed to pay for his three years of training on his own. Now that is an accomplishment in Congo.

Kilasi has always been a bright spot. Remembered by professors as an energetic go-getter, he is of inestimable value at our dispensary. In the bush, or the nseki where we live, he will be one of a kind for miles around. Three years ago, during one of our pastoral reunions, I ran into Kilasi in the valley and asked him what he was doing. My heart beat rapidly when he told me he was in training to be a lab tech. It will take about $1500 to equip him to run a good lab. He gave me a long list of needed items, including a microscope, a diabetes tester, and an expensive machine that performs various blood tests. When he is set up, we will be able to give pregnancy tests, tests for malaria, AIDS, diabetes, Tb, and typhoid, to name a few. The long-awaited day has come, though we can't afford to pay him eveb the small salary he will earn to begin with, the truth of the matter is, we cannot afford not to.

Join in praying for the funds to buy all the equipment in Kinshasa week after next, which will revolutionize our ability to care for the local population.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009


Friday morning after chapel, Marie Aza (director of our Women's Literacy Center), Jean Kapinga (wife of the national director of Laban Congo), and I went to the village of Mbila. Last Sunday morning as Jim and I started up Aerobic Hill, we were met by seven women carrying a stalk of bananas. A stalk holds up to twelve bunches of bananas. It weighed close to 70 pounds and was about four and a half feet long. Wanting to console us in the loss of our two grandbabies, they made the long seven mile trek by foot, carrying that heavy stalk all the way. I had chosen Romans 11:33-36 and the entire twelfth chapter to share with the policemen's wives at the local sheriff's office. So a few days later, the ladies visited us. I decided to teach them this portion of Scripture as well. Radio Glory gave them a heads-up regarding our arrival.

As we approached the church, we heard the milolo in greeting us. The women cupped their hands over their mouths to show their excitement as they screamed. All but one corner of the roof of the church was covered with tin. Large tree branches composed the walls and connected to the roof. The "pews" were made of logs. In the front was a small table draped with Africa cloth and decked with beautiful flower bouquets. Pastor Hosea started the singing and the crowd gathered quickly. Soon we were underway. It turned out to be a regular church service and I was touched by their rapt attention. Their hunger for the Word of God is astounding.

Out of the 90 present, only six had Bibles. We just cannot find Bibles anywhere. I took seven radios, one for each of the women who came to the mission campus. They were overjoyed. Sixteen people made professions. Word spread and in addition to sharing this same portion of Scripture on Radio Glory, for the next two weeks, I will be traveling to Longo, Itwai, and Mbila again. I will be traveling with Mama Marie Aza and Mama Jean again.

Out of all the Lord has done in this region of Bandundu, the greatest and most rewarding that we have been involved with, is exposing the Word of God. It will never return void--no never! Please continue to pray with us!

Monday, October 12, 2009

Their Fervent Prayers

"The fervent prayers of a righteous man avail much." James 5:16 The Amplified Bible says, "The earnest, heart-felt, continued prayer of a righteous man makes tremendous power available, dynamic in its working."

Tonight special prayers are being offered at the radio studio from 7-9 p.m. The staff will hold up their shield of faith before God and cry out to Him from the depths of their souls. Pastor Masina came by yesterday and asked if he could have a little tea and sugar to serve, and I threw in some rice. Since we are behind in paying our staff, they don't have any food to spare in their homes. It brings tears to my eyes.

He also asked for prayer requests from Jim and me. We gave him fifteen requests, including prayer for our beloved America and our prayer partners and donors. So, by the time you read this, know that intercessory prayer has wafted its way up to the throne of the Almighty God on your behalf.

My mind's eye goes back to our first term out here when our Bible school was just beginning. I can't tell how many all night prayer meetings were held. Jim and I would try to last for several hours and then we fell into bed. What a beautiful sound we heard as we woke up to their rich rendering of hymns, sounds from way down deep. Prayer is as natural to them as breathing. It is their sustenance, their strength, their joy.

Often we have called the leadership here for one emergency or another while in America, or they have been aware of critical needs while we were stateside. They would snap to as if they were in the military, call an all night prayer meeting in the building we call the "white house," and fast and pray for three days without even drinking water.

Congo is a hardship post. The American Embassy found it extremely challenging in the '70s and '80s to get employees from America to stay here for two years. Four years was the limit. The country is in much worse shape today than it was then. I shudder to think what life would be out here without all those prayers down through the years.

What a pleasing aroma they must be to God. I remember in those early days waking up in the night to their beautiful singing and feeling so safe. Then I would fall right back to sleep.

Their precious offerings are kept in bottles and recorded in one of the Lord's books. Only He knows how many pages they fill. Thank you, Lord, for people who really have a handle on life. Next to my husband, they are my heroes.

Friday, October 9, 2009


Samedi means Saturday in French. Some of the names people choose to give their children here in Congo just crack me up. Some favorites are safety pin, jealousy, cursed, hot pepper, mischief, and bone.

Samedi is a man in his thirties, I believe, though he has no birth certificate, no mom or dad, and no siblings. Their is no way of knowing his true age, especially since the Congolese tend not to show their age. He roams the mission campus and has no bed of his own to sleep in. Various families have tried to take him in, despite the fact that he would be one more mouth to feed in their already hard-pressed circumstances. But Samedi stays nowhere more than a day or two. He is what we might call a simpleton. Repetitious and unkempt, he has to be told to take a bath and wash his clothes. However, his mild manners and sweet spirit win you over every time. He is also a very hard worker and as strong as an ox.

Tonight, when we were calling America, he appeared on the scene and told Jim he hadn't eaten all day. So when we finished, we all walked down Aerobic hill (I love coming, just not going up!) and we ran into another staff member, Lobo. We gave them a large can of sardines, half a loaf of freshly baked bread, and four bananas.

Samedi's intelligence limits him academically and socially, but not spiritually. Psalm 19:7 in the Amplified Bible says, "The law of the Lord is perfect, restoring the whole person; the testimony of the Lord is sure MAKING WISE THE SIMPLE." So Samedi is able to be wise spiritually because God is not impressed with our intelligence. He is impressed with our hearts. He and the Spirit of God can communicate freely; and, though he may not articulate his thoughts in a rational fashion with people, he can know true wisdom from the Father. I love it that the Lord has all of Samedi's bases covered. I love it that He is the Way-maker. He goes far beyond our limitations and brick walls we come up against and frees our spirit to adore Him. Truly, isn't that going to be a big part of our work in heaven--adoring Him?

Oh, Samedi, the best is yet to come, and you are in for such an amazing awakening. You will sit with the throng from ages past and the Ancient of Days at the marriage supper of the Lamb. I can't wait to see you in your glorified body. Till then, we will do our best here at Nkara to see that you are taken care of and enjoy some of the dignity you deserve because you are a valued and beloved creation of God.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Exciting News!

We received news today that a supporter of the ministry is willing to match all new contributions to Laban Ministries up to $5000 until the end of October! This is an opportunity to make your gift to your brothers and sisters in Congo go twice as far. We have the convenience of accepting funds through Paypal on the ministry's website which you can link to right here: If you would prefer to make your donation through the mail, please earmark your gift for the October Matching Fund for Laban. The address is:

Laban Ministries Int'l
P. O. Box 5133
Dearborn, MI 48128

We so wish we could transport you to the bush here in the Congo. The landscape is breathtakingly beautiful--lush green and tropical. But the needs would break your heart as you watched so many suffer with so few resources. One day those of us who believe in Jesus Christ will praise Him around the throne. The gift you give today will have eternal impact. You may never meet those you help on earth, but one day, you will witness when God Himself wipes away the tears of the Congolese.

"Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, "Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away."
Revelation 21:1-4

Worthy is the Lamb who was slain for us!

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

A Glory Day

Yesterday was a glory day. We rose at 4:40 a.m., after loading the car with supplies and picking up our travelers, we were off to Bulungu, the local government center. Nkara is in the district of Bulungu, in the province of Bandundu.

Bulungu is the kind of town you can spend a week in in one night. Various and sundry "tax-collectors" come from Bulungu to attempt to levy some sort of fine on the mission here. They usually visit Nkara only when we are here, figuring that our presence equates to money. As mentioned in the past, two of our graduates minister to the police. They travel many miles on foot each month. God is doing amazing things through His word in and to the policemen and their wives. We decided to visit the large group of men and women in Bulungu, look them in the eye, share our testimony and the Scriptures, and watch the Lord work. The 30 miles took us 2 1/2 hours one way, over dirt roads, which led us to the Kwilu River. We made our crossing in an oversized raft, driven by a diesel-generated tugboat. Hand-dug tree canoes fight the strong current of the massive Kwilu for those who choose not to take the raft. To my mind returned the vivid memory of our family crossing the crocodile-infested river years ago in one of those crude canoes when the ferry was not working.

Everyone got out of the car and the driver eased our vehicle onto the ferry. We followed and reached the other side uneventfully. A half hour later, we arrived at the post and received a royal welcome.

About 200 policemen and their wives listened intently as Pastor Ezekiel from Psalm 2:1-12 and Jim shared the story of the forty wrestlers. I spoke from Romans 11:33-36 and Romans 12:1 to the wives. 90 men and women put their hands over their hearts to signal their acceptance of Jesus Christ. The Major is a Christian and begged us to come back. Their animated singing and infectious enthusiasm delighted our hearts. The Lord's heart had to be moved as well.

After the service we were ushered into the modest headquarters and served Cokes and cherry and orange sodas. The Major then begged us for Bibles and radios. He acknowledged his observance that poverty-stricken are we if we feed only our physical bodies and fail to feed our souls. His words refreshed us like cool springs on a blistery-hot day.

Pastor Ezekiel knows these men well because he was one of them for years, while his wife prayed faithfully for his salvation. He met Jesus and graduated from our Bible Institute. He vividly recalls the atrocities commonly practiced by the police and soldiers in Congo, so his burden for them is sincere. Yesterday he told me how unreceptive they were at first. Now he and Pastor Hosea are well-received. The men and women have learned many of the Christian songs and sing them with vigor. One big change among the leadership of the police these days is the forbidding of beating a person, guilty or not guilty, and ravaging the women after robbing the men. Instead, they bring to their offices only those they think are guilty and do not proceed with a punishment until after they have prayed for wisdom. He said this is all so new to the police. "We preach the Word of God and then we just keep adding more and more to what we have taught them. Eventually, we see change."

We had no money in the budget for bikes for Ezekiel and Hosea, but we bought bikes anyway at a cost of $230. Who in the world could look them in the eye, pat them on the back, wish them God's speed, and expect them to simply keep walking to Bulungu and the other posts every month.

Pray that the government with be open to the powerful gospel of Jesus Christ by allowing us to minister to the police division. Amen!

Monday, October 5, 2009

I Walked Today Where Jesus Walked

Why is God's presence so real out here in the bush of Africa? Why is He so evident? Why do I sense Him so fully and freely?

For more than 30 years now, Jim and I have had the rather unique privilege of living in two worlds--America and Congo. We travel from a world of high tech sophistication, wealth, affluence, unparalleled educational opportunities and a sense of entitlement to a world of abject poverty, filth, unbelievable corruption in the government. There is absolutely no governmental infrastructure and heightened suffering. Yet the presence of God is so embracing and enveloping. Why? I have been pondering this reality over the past three weeks since our arrival.

Tonight it dawned on me: GOD LOVES THE POOR! Now that's not the only reason. Millions of poor people live in Kinshasa and that city is one of the darkest places in the world. But poverty is definitely a factor here. Another factor is the wealth of their faith and the prices paid to exercise that kind of faith. Nkara (our mission station) is holy ground. This valley, surrounded by a horse-shoe shaped hill, was a center for ceremonial cannibalism and child-sacrifice until the 1940s. Then God sent a vibrant, sold-out, Spirit-filled couple by the name of Laban and Marcella Smith, and through the power of the gospel they preached, 10,000 men and women were delivered from the despair and hopelessness of their abounding sin known in the Bayanzi tribe.

That same power kept the Bayanzis from joining in the civil war when it started in the 1960s. Their salvation meant so much to them that they refused to allow anyone to pillage this campus. Their beloved pioneer missionaries, Laban and Marcella, enriched the African soil through the offering of their bodies through death. They are both buried in Kikwit. On the hill where Laban Bible Institute stands was the first church made up of palm fronds. A ritualistic spilling of blood by killing sons of royalty, who were then eaten, as well the horrific infant sacrifices by holding the babies over hot coals, cutting them up, and eating them, have been replaced by a training center whose heart beats for evangelism.

The legacy handed down to us is sobering. It is a legacy of sacrifice, dedication, putting one's hands to the plow, and never looking back, tireless evangelism, and thrilling to the privilege of serving the God of the universe. How could the Lord not be real here? How could His presence not be so palpable? He is the most dynamic force at Nkara. He has to be. With no hospital, no capable doctors, no way out of here by plane after nightfall due to the lack of VOR's here in the bush, we are desperate for Him. We have control over nothing--and He loves that. Because He then can be "our strength, our personal bravery, our invincible army, and He can make our feet like hinds' feet and will make us to walk--and not stand still in terror--but to walk and make spiritual progress upon our HIGH PLACES of trouble, suffering, or responsibility." Habakkuk 3:19

Praise the Lord!

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Pastor from Ilebo

Congo is an incredible land of opportunity for ministry. Our staff meets at the chapel on campus every morning at 7:30. Today my husband, Jim, introduced a pastor from the town of Ilebo (ee-lay-bo). No one knew he was coming. He stood and proudly reminded us that he graduated from Laban Bible Institute six years ago. He was a man of distinct features, medium stature, and slight build, enthusiastically inviting our evangelism team to hold an outreach in his town.

He spoke of the cults there, people steeped in darkness and despair, a town laden with witchdoctors and evil. Underneath his enthusiastic exterior was a man needing encouragement and a helping hand. I wondered how many nights he lay in bed praying safety and protection for his family from the evil surrounding him. How many times had he prayed for deliverance from any kind of food poisoning that the witchdoctors may have tried to pass on to him. What kind of chains had he had to trust Christ to break just to free his mind from the overpowering oppression of being outnumbered by the dark abode of wicked spirits dwelling there?

I asked him how he came. "Well," he said, "I took a boat, then I took a truck, and then I walked the rest of the way", which could have been as far as fifty kilometers or thirty miles. He asked Jim for a Bible. We had only one left in the Kituba language. I walked inside the house and ran upstairs to get him a little money as well. How much should I give him, Lord? How much can I spare? There are so many needs out here. Lord, show me, please. My eyes fell on 25,000 francs. I was at peace with that. In our money, that amounts to $29.76. Lord, you know this is so meager, but you can multiply it. Do that Lord, please!

I returned with the Bible and the small gift and he beamed. Because the Lord loves the Lord so much, I will do the same. I asked the Lord to bless him and return him all the way back the 400 kilometers (240 miles) he traveled here, just to invite us to his church.

What an honor to see the fruit of our labor, Lord, thank You!

Thursday, October 1, 2009


"Mawa"...the word means "sorrow"--brokenhearted. "Mpenza" means "deeply, really, truly, to a great extent"

Today was a day of great, deep, extensive sorrow. Why? Because one of our staff, Mupia, whose name by the way means "twin," lost his twenty-something year old daughter. He came to work to give us a hand because we have missionary guests from Kinshasa. Jim drove him to his home about 4 p.m., only to find out that his daughter had just died. She waited and waited and waited before seeking help to deliver her second baby. The first baby died at birth. Unable to deliver by herself, when labor came on strong, the village women came to her aid to no avail.

Finally, with no more options, she went to the local state-operated clinic, where horror stories are heard all the time. She could not go on any longer so the "doctor" gave her a C-section, and her uterus ruptured. The baby was already dead.

Pastor Mboma told me that hers is the fifth death in two months of women receiving a C-section at that clinic. I listened in shock as he told me, "Sometimes C-sections are performed with razor blade and a flashlight." Think of it! Five women have lost their lives, perhaps needlessly.

It was just such a death that occurred at our airstrip with a women named Shindani that made us decide that we must have a hospital here. Shindani waited for three day, while in intensive labor, before the villagers brought her to us. Jim, my husband, was fueling the little Cessna 150 to take her to the medical mission of Vanga, he heard the death wail. Her mother was flailing her arms in disbelief that there, before her very eyes, her daughter passed from this life into the next.

We have two young men training to be doctors in Lumbumbashi, but it will be another three years before one of them will return to the local population's rescue. How many more women will die from childbirth before he returns?

We visited Mupia in his village. His face was swollen from crying. My heart breaks for his family. Please pray for them. We attended the funeral for his daughter and grandchild. I watched as they lowered the wee casket into the ground next to the baby's mother. It was a little boy. Oh, what great sorrow...mawa...mpenza!