Monday, August 30, 2010

Pray for Ilebo Trip

Tomorrow - Ilebo. In its day, Ilebo was a prestigious town which spread the red carpet for King Albert of Belgium in the early 1920s. Today it is not heard of much. One of the Laban Bible Institute graduates has been pastoring there for about five years. After he walked, rode a commercial truck, and hired a boat, and walked all the way to Nkara last year to plead for our team to evangelize there, we decided to comply. His journey took five days one way. Much prayer has gone into this outreach and we don't want to stop praying now.

Tomorrow, Jim and seven other pastors fly to Ilebo on the Mission Aviation Fellowship plane and meet up with two other men who have gone on ahead to arrange for everyone's coming. Protocol requires that the village chiefs are consulted first and arrangements for the team made well in advance, including decided where the actual preaching will take place, where the tents will be pitched, where placement of all the equipment should be, etc.

Ilebo is located in the Kasai Province of Congo. We are located in the Bandundu Province. Through phone contact with the 2 pastors that have gone ahead we have learned that food prices are about the same as are gasoline and diesel fuel. Three sections of Ilebo will be evangelized, which is pretty much the whole town of at least 200,000 people. Pastor Kebembo tells us that scores of people are already waiting in anticipation of the King's arrival. Jim has to take his passport and money has been set aside for food, diesel fuel to give to rented trucks to travel to the other 2 sections of Ilebo, gasoline for the 2 generators so that the musicians can be heard and so the Jesus film and The Passion can be viewed. Approximately one ton of men and equipment will be flown to Ilebo.

Please pray for safety, for souls, for understanding of the Word of God as it is taught verse by verse. For order, for the defeat of Satan, and for good health and no injuries for the team members. Pray for protection and for deliverance from evil spirits and witchcraft. Please pray that the money Jim is taking will be enough. Prices can change here daily with no advanced warning.

"Behold the Lord's hand is not short at all that it cannot save nor His ear dull with deafness that it cannot hear." Isaiah 59:1

God has given us the great privilege and sobering responsibility of saying to those who are bound, "Come forth" and to those who are in spiritual darkness, "Show yourselves come into the light of the sun of righteousness."

Friday, August 27, 2010

A Great Light

"And I will bring the blind by a way that they know not. I will lead them in paths that they have not known. I will make darkness into light before them and make uneven places into a plain. These things I have determined to do for them and I will not leave them forsaken." Isaiah 42:16

In Congo, when the moon is only partially visible, the darkness is so deep and thick, you cannot see your hand in front of your face. Every night, dusk settles in about 5:30 pm and, within an hour, that which was dimly visible, is no longer in sight. From approximately 6:30 pm to 5:30 am, a dark blanket covers Congo until the rising sun releases the bright light of day.

The dawning of day shows the clarity of the path that was hidden in the dark of night. Those crooked places we couldn't see, places perhaps laden with unknown danger, such as snakes, rough terrain, cliffs, and ditches. The light of day tells us what dangers are lurking. So with the Word of God.

Jim couldn't believe the spiritual ignorance at the village of Pangu-Idiofa, just outside of the Bayanzi territory. These people are known as the Babundas and speak Kibunda, their mother tongue. They also speak the trade language of Kituba, which is the language we speak. Our evangelism team left Friday afternoon in the old military truck filled with instruments, musicians, preachers, food for the three day crusade and great anticipation of a weekend filled with teaching the Word of God.

Ignorance of the Bible was very apparent as the preaching began, but God's Word is light. It is more powerful than a two-edged sword, piercing to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit and is the discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. Praise God and hallelujah, for as Scripture was divided for hours at a time- Friday evening, Saturday morning, noon, and evening and Sunday morning, noon and into the evening again, facial expressions changed. They came alive. As the light entered and shone on their souls, it was as if the people were resurrected from the dead. Ninety-seven stepped forward to leave the vacuum of darkness.

So Lord, Your gospel is powerful to work deliverance from death.

"For once you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord." Ephesians 5:8

"And you who made alive when you were dead, slain by your trespasses and sin." Ephesians 2:1

O giver of life and light, we bow before You in total amazement, for Your resurrection power, which now makes them heirs and joint-heirs with Christ. Amen and amen.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

A New Day

Congo was considered a hardship post by the American Embassy for years. The longest term allowed by the US government for its American employees, hired stateside serving here, was four years when we arrived in Africa in 1978. If the US Embassy considers it a difficult post, even after providing their staff with a beautiful home, appointed with lovely amenities, plus a commissary stocked with all sorts of American groceries, including tasty delicacies, imagine what hardships the average villager lives with daily. The hardship of not only no running water, but no availability to clean water in close proximity to their mud/stick huts. Exposure to the elements- including tropical temperatures, torrid rains, high humidity, mosquito-infected living conditions, nutrient-deprived soil that produces next to nothing during the months of June, July, and August because of lack of rainfall. Up to a two-day walk to the nearest hospital, cooking over an open fire instead of a fast-cooking stove. Going to the bathroom in a standing position over an open hole, surrounded by dirt enclosed by a stick fence. Tending gardens almost daily, which to begin with, were covered with brush and scrub trees removed by their husbands, the planting of which in some cases, requires a 3 year waiting period before harvest.

So...many women do not finish high school at all. The child of privilege in the family in Congo is the male. If anyone has to sacrifice their education, it is the woman. She is needed to help bear her mother's burdensome life.

Therefore, not only is the woman's role in Congo oftentimes similar to a work horse of the land, but she is inprisoned in the chains of ignorance, darkness, and despair, and unable to escape to the world of reading and writing. The focus becomes her imprisonment. Her darkened mind longs to be freed of the heaviness she faces daily, but who will deliver her?

Thus the reason for L'Ecole du Femme (the Women's Lit Center) we started on the mission campus in 2004. Because many villages are begging for the same opportunity the women of Nkara-Ewa are experiencing, we started a 12 week summer reading school at the village of Mbila. In my eyes, it is a plan of simplicity we are bringing them. We go 3 days a week, offer those who cannot read at all the alphabet, while those who can read, math. Plus an introduction outline and verse by verse study of Philippians.

After our first session, the 74 women gathered outside to enjoy dessert. Dessert was "The Art of Knitting." Knitting? Dessert? To them it was delicious. The act of study, combined with the joy of learning a fun skill like knitting brought laughter and delight. Their tenacity paid off and smiles flashed as they successfully completed their first lesson.

The reality of Psalm 3:3 of would-be slaves:

"You, LORD, are a shield for them, their glory, and the lifter of their heads."

Monday, August 9, 2010

A Four Month Long Funeral

You don't know what is missing until it is missing. For the last six years, for miles and miles around, a potential audience of 8 million people have eagerly looked forward to hearing daily broadcasts on Radio Glory. Most of these six years, Radio Glory has broadcasted on a regular basis. However, this spring, something went wrong and the comforting voice of their "mama", as Radio Glory is known, was stilled.

Oh, how they began to miss her soothing words each morning and evening, the wise counsel, her inspiring music, her eye-opening teaching of the Scriptures, her announcements informing them of deaths, conferences, school openings, special exams, evangelism. Her loving words of encouragement and admonition and her faith-building messages were deeply missed. They had no idea they would miss their "mama" so much.

Someone told me, "Radio Glory's absence is like when our parents go away for a long time and leave us and we long to see them again. Then, one day in the distance, we view their silhouettes. And we run with open arms to embrace them once again."

Another said, "It's like Radio Glory died and we have been at the funeral for four months. She has been resurrected from the dead."

Thank you, Jim Hulse, for bringing her back to life. Thank you, Jesus, for showing Jim Hulse how to restore this amazing power plant here in the middle of the wilderness. We bow before You and life Your name high!

P.S. Yesterday, my husband Jim and fifteen others went to preach at the town of Mubeya- Musai, in particular the police force has been begging Laban to come and minister to them. Out of a large crowd, 36 men made professions of faith in Jesus Christ. They said, "We knew nothing about this. We have never heard anything like this before."

The trip took 8 hours because of the interest that five of those hours were spent explaining the Scriptures and dealing with them one-on-one. As they were pulling out, the police captain, begged-literally begged-Jim, with pleading eyes told Jim, "Please don't forget us. We must see the Laban team every month to feed us the words of God. We are starving spiritually." Hallelujah for the cross!

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Gates of Bronze and Bars of Iron

These past 12 days, we have seen God make good on this promise found in Isaiah. Let me list the ways:

1) Jim Hulse, founder and director of Towers for Jesus, at the ticket counter in the US before departing for Congo, had to call a supervisor after a forty-five minute discussion in South Bend, IN airport to get his bags checked all the way through to Kinshasa. The airport only wanted to check them through to South Africa, where he would have had to recheck them and pay again.

2) They refused his passage out to board the airplane because they said the visa in his passport was messy and in a language they couldn't read. It was in French (duh!).

3) South African airlines claimed one of his bags which contained all of his clothes and the vital power supply needed to repair the transmitter enabling us to broadcast at full power.

4) Before discovering that the radio exciter voltage had been changed to a different voltage, he pulled it into the wall and it exploded in his face. He was not hurt.

Then God sent a little humor:

5) While turning on the air conditioner in his bedroom in the nearby home we call the white house, he stood directly in front of the A/C and was blasted by a shower of bugs that had long since died way back in 2005.


1) "Mama" has returned. This is what Radio Glory is called by the Congolese. We are back to broadcasting after four months of silence.

2) All of the radio equipment in the studio has been repaired and serviced and we are back to full power.

3) After climbing the 300 foot radio tower twice, Jim Hulse also came down 300 feet uninjured!

4) Recent local evangelism the past two weekends resulted in almost 300 people raising their hands to accept Christ.

5) We made payroll for the month of June! Yippee!!

6) Jim Hulse returned to his home after shutting the generator off just outside his door, only to step on a three and a half foot snake in the dark. Amazingly, he was not bitten! In fact, he thinks it's cool because now he has another great story to tell.

Lord you are our chosen and assigned portion, our cup. You hold and maintain our lot. Psalm 16:5

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

A Scorpion in the House

A few weeks ago two 17 year old girls, who live in Kinshasa, came to Nkara to spend some time with us. There are always concerns with visitors coming to the bush, especially someone else's child you have never even met. I prayed fervently for God's protective hand to evidence itself, something like this:

Lord, you know Nadia's parents are entrusting their only child to us. Please hover over her and Suzanne the seven days they will be at Nkara.

At the end of each activity-filled day, I thanked the Lord we made it through without a hitch. There was a wide range of events in which the girls eagerly participated: giving their testimonies to the work staff in chapel, testifying at the Women's Literacy Center at Nkara, as well as to the women of the village of Mbila where we will hold our first satellite reading school this August, September, and October. Every day they swam in the lake, which was a beautiful way to end the afternoon. No accidents there; no drownings, thank the Lord.

Ngwadi-Ngwadi welcomed them as they visited with and spoke to grade school-aged children. Nadia shared her father's humble beginnings as a local villagers who decided to live for God and his life of honesty, his educational background, and his hard work that had paid off. He is now CEO of a large oil distribution company, SEP, in Kinshasa.

Both girls participated in our graduation services. Nadia challenged the new graduate pastors to look after the teenagers in their churches and charged them to live for God, while Suzanne sang the national anthem of Congo. The people went crazy! They loved it. Their work with us was topped off with a trip to Bulungu, the local government seat. They testified to the police wives, as well as the policeman, in the crowded gov't center there, bursting at its seams with population of 904,000. The six hour drive there and back was without incident and prayers for protection rose up again for us all as we crossed the crocodile and hippo-infested waters of the Kwilu River in a large canoe. Eight or nine of us at a time crossed the river. The rapid current could have swept us away had it not been for the skilled oarsmen who paddled us across and back.

So when we were approaching the end of our visit at Nkara, it looked as if all that had begun so well would also end well until...

an unwelcome visitor made his way to the bathroom and decided to climb into the tub.

Nadia was washing her feet when she felt a crawling sensation on the outer side of her right foot. What did appear to her wondering eyes but a three-inch long scorpion, who can inflict such pain that when Jim's older brother was bitten by one years ago, he wanted their father to cut off his big toe. Nadia jumped out of the tub and after I calmly screamed for Jim, he stomped and killed the scorpion with my flip flop.

The mighty hand of God stopped the scorpion from inflicting his pain-filled wound and once we were all on the plane to return to Kinshasa, I breathed a final sigh of relief in incredible gratitude for deliverance from evil and harm for these special girls who were such a blessing to us and our people.