In just four weeks and some, we will be winging our way once again to the formerly "dark continent" of Africa. It is an amazing place to live, providing amazing ministry opportunities, amazing challenges, amazing people to rub shoulders with, and amazing heartaches, but most of all we will see an amazing God work out complications and impossible situations right before our eyes!
In preparation for the trip, we hosted a benefit dinner on April 22 at Crystal Gardens in Southgate MI. Our coordinator, Tammy, pulled out the stops, and we enjoyed a beautiful atmosphere decked with fresh white linens gracing 32 tables. In the center of each table was a runner made of bold, bright, beautiful African cloth, surrounded by lovely china and real silverware (we are such a disposable society these days with our dinnerware), goblets, and a charming candle centerpiece.
Crystal Gardens served a delicious meal, consisting of 3 entrees, three side dishes, salad, rolls, soft drinks, topped off by an ice cream sundae. Programs outlined several "Did you know's?" about the work in Africa. It was hard to choose which of these Q&A's to include because the work is now pushing 72 years, and Africa is such an interesting place to discuss.
Our son, Jack, was Master of Ceremonies this year. He brought something new to the table--live violin and guitar accompaniment--a feast for the ears. There is great passion in Jack's singing, and his stirring historical overview of Laban Ministries not only brought tears to his eyes, but to ours as well.
Paul Perugi, board member, and dear friend, interviewed Jim and me. Jim and I could blab all night about the work and the people and what God is doing there, but Paul managed to reign us in. One of the highlights of the interview was that Pastor Kilundu surveyed graduates of LMI spread out all over the Bandundu Province. He traveled 200 miles on foot because his motorbike is worn out. His job as overseer of our graduate pastors takes him into areas where he must park his motorcycle and walk because there aren't even paths to some of the remote villages these Laban pastors call home. He reported to us that hundreds of thousands of people have made professions, and we were reminded once again that just because we don't see that happening here in America, doesn't mean that it isn't happening elsewhere.
Pastor Tom Downs of Gilead Baptist Church challenged everyone to become a part of the highlight of this summer--an aggressive evangelistic thrust, outreach, and crusade if you will at Ilebo (ee lay bow), a city of up to 200,000 people. A city that is impossible to travel to by land vehicle, and so Mission Aviation Fellowship will be flying our evangelism team and musicians there on or about September 7, providing the weather cooperates and the schedule works out.
Ilebo is a town of darkness, despair, hopelessness, voodoo, witchcraft, and idolatry. Steeped in demonism, it offers people the option of following satan at his beck and call. Pastor Ibala, who has ministered there for about a decade, decided this needs to change. So he walked, biked, took a boat, and walked some more all the way to the Nkara campus to plead with us to come and preach and teach the Word of God.
The trip will be costly. This summer and fall in Congo will be costly, but nothing is too hard for the Lord, and so we go trusting Jesus to supply every need and then some.
Pastor Downs poured his heart into making this daunting trip possible with the help of God's people. An offering of over $19,000 was received, which is the largest ever for this amount of people attending one of these dinner events. Thank you Pastor Tom for your compelling words.
Thank you everyone who attended for responding to the need.
As usual, we will keep you posted through FB, twitter, and this blog.
The big thing we are seeking before, during, and after this next season of ministry is your prayers. The fervent prayers of a righteous man (a man or woman in Christ) avail MUCH. Nobody knows how much that much is, but we know this much: It is powerful. It is changing statistics for eternity. It is snatching people from the fires of hell forever. It is transformation. It is worship of demons turned sour, and it becomes worship of the Ancient of Days. It is resurrection for people who are lost and dying, hell bound. It unleashes the opportunity for anyone and everyone to come to the Living Water. It is break through after break through. It is introduction to the fruit of the Spirit. It is a defining moment that thrusts people into the wonder of resting in the arms of Jesus. And so much more.
Please join us in prayer. Please join us by investing in this endeavor. Paul said that he didn't want the people's money in Philippians for himself. He wanted them to give so that their spiritual bank account would be BIG, that it wouldn't be overdrawn because of a lack of souls banked there. That is a noble thought. How much are we banking in heaven NOW?
This is an amazing opportunity to invest in lives who some day will walk up to you in Glory and thank you for giving so that they could enjoy life in Christ for evermore. Praise God, what riches we can extend to others through something as close to our fingertips as money, any amount. God's interest pays high dividends. God bless you all. We are excited to go and will be excited to share with you as we walk this journey the amazing results of letting God's Word loose and watching it do its work.