Friday, September 24, 2010

Well, after a long and wearisome day of transit, to say the least, I
have reached my long awaited destination of Kinshasa. I’ve been
thoroughly enjoying my first couple days here and spending time with
the Smiths (they are some genuine, quality people - if you didn’t
already know). But, I would like to share a bit about my transit
experience here, and just how explicit the Lord’s guidance and care
was made evident during this stressful period.

I am simply going to copy my journal entry that was written on the
plane after running the gauntlet of Kenyan Airlines check-in services
(my hope is that while reading, you’ll be able to experience the
emotions as I did at that particular time). I’ll preface this
fragmented entry by bring the reader up to speed on where it begins.
I had arrived at the Kenyan Airport at 5:30 a.m. locale time; I had
been up all night was running on fumes. The plane to Kinshasa was
scheduled to depart at 8:20 a.m. so this entry will begin as I enter
the check-in queue at around 7:30… enjoy

September 20, 2010:

… The check-in employee looked at my Congo visa and asked if there was
another (the entire visa stamp is in French, so neither of us can read
it). “- 2-“ (as listed) was really the only thing that could be
deciphered and she claim that meant it was valid until 2 months after
the issue date (which is “07/06/10”). I interjected and exclaimed
that the “- 2 -“ listed meant that I’m valid to stay for 2 months upon
my arrival (which is the true meaning). She then asked me to step
aside and wait for a French speaker that could come to the check–in
counter and interpret. So I waited… 8…. 8:15… 8:20 and its now the
scheduled departure time and we’re confined to the stagnant state of
waiting; while my nerves are doing just the contrary – intensifying
exponentially with each passing moment (only 10 others left to
check-in). I got the attention of another worker… and another… (no
help) and finally resorted to cutting in-line and talked with the
original lady proclaiming “the flight is leaving now! Can we please
resolve this issue and let me pass!” This was met with her simply
telling me to casually step aside once more and wait for the French
speaker. Another 5 minutes, only 4-5 people left in line - he finally
shows up and reads the visa. It translated that the validity is 3
months after the issue date… this is an improvement but the issue date
is listed as “07/06/10” (thats dd/mm/yy). So June 7, the 3 months is
up, the visa is expired, “I’m sorry sir, we cannot let you board this
aircraft”… as the final 3 people pass me in line and they are in the
final stages before closing the doors. “Sir, there is absolutely no
possible way you can make it to Kinshasa today.” (next flight was 5
days later)

Confused and anxious, I’m alone and the plane is leaving and I’m stuck
in Nairobi. I’m stressed to the point of near tears, my mind is
racing… “What’s going to happen with the Smiths meeting me Kinshasa?…
What about my checked bag that’s currently on the plane?… What about
the MAF flight schedule for tomorrow morning at 6 a.m.?… Will I be
here for a week to adhere to the ‘arrive on a Monday only’ policy of
the Smith’s?” My head and spirit sink to an inexperienced before low,
I’m praying like crazy for what to do next, why was this in God’s

Its 8:40, and I’m pleading for anyone that will listen… “is there any
way that I can make it to the Congo today”… “No sir, I’m sorry”. So
my next move is to attempt to retrieve my bag (providing it’s not on
the plane) clear the Kenyan customs, and head into Nairobi and locate
the DRC embassy. The final passengers are being permitted aboard, and
I’m searching for a phone in the airport to inform Smiths of my
situation, and preparing for an awful day (supplement to the fact of
being up all night) of wandering the streets of Nairobi. The French
speaker had left, and the gate was shutting down, its 8:45. But this
is when an idea hit me, I figured it would never work, but hey, it’s
worth a try and I’m pretty desperate. Now it certainly involved a lot
of improvisation but, what the heck, I’m good at that. I rose from
my stooped, depressed posture, and demanded the attention of the
original lady. With augmented energy, I’m proclaiming “I’ve got
it!!!” – she’s shaking her head “no” before I even explain, saying
“they are very strict in the DRC, I’m sorry”. Here I am pointing at
the issue date (07/06/10) saying “NO!….NO!… in the U.S.A. we write
month, day, year, ITS JULY 6th!! I have till October 6th!!!”(not
really). She brushed it off condescendingly, the doors have been
sealed to the entry tunnel, and the x-ray machine is being shut down.
I’m franticly announcing, “look at my watch, its 9-20!!!... think
about September 11th, we always say ‘9/11’… That’s how we do it,
PLEASE!!!” She continued shaking her head, my efforts appeared to be
futile. Tingled with flowing adrenalin, I realize it wasn’t going to
work ---

But then this next part I believe to be nothing other than divine
intervention. As I’m accepting my current fate, a distinguished Kenyan
lady, about 55, was walking past the gate and steps over hearing our
blabbering. She overheard what we were saying and, could you believe,
is standing there agreeing with me!!! And then, this is amazing, she
says “just think about 9/11… they mean September 11th…” WOW, hahaha,
I’m in disbelief. I don’t suppose anything would have happened if it
wasn’t for this passing lady. I’m at full attention, just lingering
for the next word from the lady’s mouth, and then she very reluctantly
and apprehensively, rolls her eyes, and hands me a boarding pass….
Saying “sir, you need to run”

HALLELUIAH!! I’m so excited right now!! I passed security in record
time and like Seabiscuit going for the triple crown, I’m sprinting
down though the vacant waiting area and slamming through the “do not
open” doors that lead to the boarding tunnel. Full speed for the
plane, some goofy incredulous smile on my face, “I’m can’t believe it
worked!” Just as I’m reaching the end, I’m greeted with a protective
safety chain, and a 10 foot drop off… NO PLANE!!!! Sinking emotions
are making an unexpected and unwelcomed counterattack. I’m wired, it’s
time to take matters into my own hands. I ran through “employees
only” exit door that has stairs leading to the tarmac… I’m racing
across towards the nearest plane robustly screaming “WAIT!!!!” The
ground crew is puzzled, but they soon realize my dilemma. The stairs
are brought over to the plane, a knock and the door opens, and I’m
flashing my recently acquired boarding pass to the flight attendant –
They shut the door right behind me.

So I’m currently writing this journal entry in seat 12F heading for
Kinshasa, huge smile on my face, in disbelief that this worked, my
head going 1,000 mph. But I’m currently thinking, if this worked in
Kenya is there a possibility of it also working in the DRC. But is
certainly expired, and here I am. I’m almost in tears of joy right
now, God answers prayers!!

Let’s hope I don’t get deported…

Wild, huh??? I had no problems in the DRC, I handed them my
passport, yet they stamped me in and I was on my way to baggage claim.
I’ve made it, thankful and grateful for this opportunity. I’ve
witnessed how God has unambiguously taken control of a difficult
situation. Thank you all for reading and your support. Please keep
praying for the Laban ministry and our remaining time in Nkara, it is
very much appreciated. – Daniel Monroe

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Hair-raising departure, by Daniel Monroe

Daniel Monroe, a recent graduated of Taylor University, is viting us for a month at our mission campus of Nkara in the bush. Look for his post on what all was involved in his actually arriving in Kinshasa, that--had it not been for his courage and determination and the blessing of God--would never had taken place! Stay tuned.

Hope Deferred - Hope Fulfilled

Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but when the desire is fulfilled, it is a tree of life. Prov 13:12

August 31 was the date scheduled for the MAF plane to pick up our pastors and evangelists, including Jim, here at Nkara. Heavy fog at Kikongo and Vanga (the first stop after takeoff in Kinshasa and the refuel at Vanga respectively) prevented that first day of the Ilebo crusade from occurring.

Hope was temporarily squelched and deferred, but quickly the Lord opened another window of opportunity to go there on September 10. Totally opposite of the severe tropical storms of August 31 and lightning, which struck two of our broadcasting pastors at Radio Glory, we woke up to a sunshiny day with blue skies and scattered clouds. Everyone agreed this was a day of blessing the Lord Himself sent us to show that His timing is perfect.

Since most of the baggage, equipment, and accessories necessary of the trip had been previously packed and secured in the building we call the White House, we were more than ready for the 11 a.m. arrival of MAF.

The crew loaded up our old x-military truck, and Pastor Yanduku gave us the signal to make our way up aerobic hill and onto our 3400' long bush airstrip. Bodies plus "bima" or things totalled 1,050 kg, not pounds, so that means just over 1 ton. Because of Rod's (MAF pilot) eye for packing and his patience, everything found its place 40 minutes after he landed.

Out of the team going only two had been on an airplane ever, but no little plastic "emesis" bags were needed.

Greeted warmly by crowds of people, including goverment officials, they made their way over bumpy, sandy roads to the location of the crusade after a 45-minute flight which would have taken up to 5 days by truck and canoe. The Word of God was preached in several areas in the next week, including the military center.

Jim said on Monday night, people in the audience were so eager to accept Christ, that they literally ran forward so as not to miss out on the opportunity. Steeped in witchcraft, idolatry, demonism, the occult, and worship of the waters, the sun, goat manure placed under their beds to bring good fortune to them, these people, left to themselves, are chained to the slavery of sin so captivating and entrenching, that only the power of the Gospel of Christ can free them.

Much prayer, fasting, heart preparation and searching, plus seeking the face of God took place long before the crusade began.

Each morning at 5 a.m., the staff rose for prayer and Bible study. Local church pastors joined in, and then seekers came inquiring, searching, pleading for answers, as they waited for the daily music fest to begin at 3 p.m. About 5, the preaching and Bible teaching started, which could easily go for an hour or two, followed by a group invitation, one-on-one counseling, sometimes the Explosion Program, and then wrapping up to get ready to show either the Jesus Film or The Passion.

The last day there Jim and Pastor Mboma interviewed a former "hit" man who selectively killed people while he himself was dressed in African garb, doped up strongly with drugs and seeking help from demons. Jim asked him what it felt like to be about ready to kill someone. He said he felt nothing because he was so full of whatever it was that he took, he had only one thing on his mind--to deliver his target into the hands of the man would pay him to do his "job."

All in all, the trip which cost thousands of dollars, was so worth it. A total of 1,570 raised their hands and came forward to indicate their desire to accept Christ. So, what is that per head? How do you put a price tag on salvation?

Speaking God's Word into their lives was a tremendous source of encouragement to the local Christians, and breathed new life into the souls of those who ministered. God's Word NEVER returns void, and if all of those 1570 meant what they said and did, then that 1570 less souls satan can claim for his as he is permanently expelled into the Lake of Fire.

With tears in their eyes and hearts full of sorrow at their leaving, people bid Jim and the team good bye, begging them to return soon. Going to Ilebo is a major undertaking, so it is not likely to happen in the near future, but God forbid that we fail to pray for them in their new-found faith.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Lightning, Ilebo Delayed, New Birth

From May 15-August 31st, very little rain fell at Nkara. Thirst-laden soil stopped producing greens, peanuts, pineapple, and papaya. Harvesting came to a screeching halt. This typifies the dry season in Congo. However, this year, it was particularly dry. Some have asked, "Is God punishing us?" The effort of prayer was redoubled as we saw the heat index soar day after day, followed by the stagnation and lack of relief caused by no rainfall.

August 30th was another hot and dry day. Then, the next morning, at 5:00 am, sound of distant thunder woke us; breezes turned into high, cooling winds, and the welcome sound of rain drops on the tin roof brought a feeling of refreshment and gratitude.

August 31st was a long-awaited day. That day our evangelism team would leave for Ilebo to hold a 10 day crusade in that port city which is spiritually dead. Prayers to the great waters of the Kasai and the Sunkuru, ancestral worship, and the idolatry of evil spirits and waste products under the bed (such as goat manure) have the population chained in darkness and terror.

So desiring to be a part of the freeing of their imprisonment by the power of the Holy Spirit, we had reached a "high" of anticipation, eager to see what marvelous breakthroughs the Lord would accomplish. About 15 minutes after the rain started, a roar of thunder was followed by an enormous boom and startling crash of lightning. We turned the radio on to see if Radio Glory was announcing...just static. As the sun rose, immense fog so hit the station you could cut it with a knife, blanketed the atmosphere.

We would learn later on in the day that Pastors Kasongo and Hosea were struck by that lightning boom, knocking Hosea to the ground in the studio, and burning Pastor Kasongo on both shoulders, which caused smoke to rise from his shirt and come out of his mouth. About 7 am, a new chubby baby girl (10 pounds!) was born to one of our professors at the Women's Literacy Center. As we looked down into her round, chunky-cheeked face, I wondered what her future would hold and prayed for her and her parents.

Ilebo disappated like the fog because the MAF plane was grounded at Kikongo and could not take off for Vanga where it would be refueled in order to come to Nkara to pick up the team. Eventually the fog cleared, but it was too late in the day for MAF to come to Nkara. You cannot get to Ilebo by truck, as it is up to a five day journey at the end of a long treacherous ride on the Kasai River. You need a large motored canoe.

Why of all days did the rain come after 45 days of no rainfall whatsoever on the very day set aside for Ilebo - a crusade planned for months and months? The Lord's ways are so far above ours. We are not going to waste our time trying to figure out why these events took place. But when such things occur, along with everything else that is happening out here, it causes us to look inward and ask, "Lord, we know You are speaking. Please tell us what are You saying?"

Thankfully, we are on the docket once again with MAF for Ilebo for September 10. Please, please pray. If Satan can hinder the apostle Paul, he can hinder us as well. We remember John's words, "Greater is He who is in You than he that is in the world." In the meantime, we marvel at and revel in the fact that the Lord, in His mercy, spared the lives of two special men on our staff. Radio Glory, praise the Lord, is just delayed in coming on. Please pray that we will be able to solve this problem as Jim Hulse just went back to the States.