Tuesday, December 20, 2011

The Buffalo Story, Part 1

The year was 1940 (before I, Jim was born). A missionary conference was called at Panzi, which is about 200 land miles SW from Nkara, where we presently work in Congo. Populated by the Bayaka people, they are a tribe known by their own as barbaric, noted for their killing. For instance, if there were on the war path and a member of the travelers was pregnant, another woman would assist in delivering the baby, and then the mother herself would grab her baby and smash its head against a big tree in the forest. She then joined her husband to fight the war against any tribe that got in the way. Such behavior was exhibited so as to frighten and threaten opponents, leaving little room for competition, a strategy for Bayaka reign. Bodies of the dead were sometimes eaten, and the goal was to be so mean that their foes would flee with whatever they could carry to the islands in the Congo River until the Bayaka people moved on to another location. This practice dates back to the days of Columbus.

Fast forward to 1940. Little had changed among the tribe. Now more reclusive, they lived in bands or groups here and there in Panzi an surrounding areas. In the late 1870's the Belgians forced them to come out of the forest and dwell in the plains of Congo so that communication began to open with them.

But for years, they were considered a backward people group. They did respond to the Gospel slowly in the early 1900's. At Panzi, Mr. & Mrs. Graves were the missionaries here, who for years didn't even have a car. Mr. Graves was a robust 6'4", 300 lb. Dad gave them money so they could erect a church building. My son, Todd, and I were in that church at Panzi in 1982, a large facility with at least 500 attending the services. The Bayakas were receptive. The mission of Panzi was growing.

Back to 1940. About 20 different missionaries had gathered for a conference that year. And, oh, how good some beef would taste, they all thought. Neither the tribe nor the Graves owned any cattle. Goat and wild meat were all that were available, including antelope. However, cape buffalo could be found in Panzi, and word got out that the missionaries would love to enjoy eating a big piece of buffalo steak, not only for its flavor but its capacity to feed up to 20 people.

Toma Kasabashi, who worked with Dr. Smith for many years as a builder, was also a hunter. He was of another tribe called the Bachok (bah choke) These tribes knew each other but kept their distance and did not intermarry. Their language was also very different.

I am sure that Toma got the word out that there was a need for some tasty beef. He and Dad probably discussed the possibility of hunting a buffalo and what a treat to the palate that would be! To me, personally, buffalo is one of the tastiest meats I have ever eaten. So after hearing Dr. Smith was looking for a buffalo, a chief from a village about 20 miles away came walking into the mission station and began to talk about a herd of buffalo on his land.

After Toma talked to the chief, he then went to Dad and informed him of the news of buffalo meat, and the discussion between the three of them took place early one morning. Laban, being a farm boy from New York, knew how to bring the bulls down, exactly where to hit, and how close to get before shooting. He also knew that the cape buffalo, a very mean beast considered one of the top 5 most dangerous animals in the world, can chase you if he gets wind of you; he can follow your scent for up to 2 miles and aggressively pursue you.

Dr. Smith's oldest son, Herb, was also in the truck. He was then 9 years old, and Dad told him he was to stay with the truck. Too dangerous to go. They checked their guns, and off they walked into the plains, the chief leading the way with his hunters, followed by Laban, Charlie, and Toma, to the herd.

They walked a good distance from the truck. Some of the chief's hunters rose up over a knoll, and there they were: "Bo ina, bo ina." they said. "There they are; there they are," to which the chief agreed. Everyone understood and, with pounding hearts, they gazed in the distance to view the beasts. This could either be dinner or death.

. . . to be continued.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Christmas at Nkara, Congo

Picture yourself as an average Congolese national waking up at our mission station of Nkara to Christmas morning. This is what you would look around to:

Your bedroom consist of one small wooden bed frame covered with a grass-filled "mattress" gathered by you on a dry, sunny day. No dresser or chest of drawers enhances your bedroom, just a small trunk with yours and your siblings' clothes locked inside; no comforters or soft sheets to cover up with, just maybe clothes or old rags. If you have visited the little boutique recently, run by Kinanga, you may have been able to purchase a small lacy curtain to cover your screen-torn window.

The living room consists of a couple of unupholstered wooden chairs surrounding a small coffee table, and off to the side of the room is a somewhat larger table and 2 more chairs used for guests who drop by to visit and chat. The coffee table may boast a doily crocheted by the woman of the house after attending the Women's Literacy school, where she has learned to sew, write her name, and read the Bible for the very first time. Some of the walls may be lined with outdated Penney's catalogue pages with which children have been rewarded for memorizing Scripture in Sunday School. No Christmas tree will light up the room, and no decorations will give a festive mood.

There is no inside plumbing, no closets, no picture windows. The home will either be made of cement block, approximately 600 square feet, with a tin roof, or it will be a mud/stick dwelling with a thatched grass roof, about 400 square feet. As many as 4 children will sleep in one bed. The average-sized family has 8 to 10 children because so many die in childbirth or from malaria, typhoid, measles, pneumonia, or who knows what. So your home may have 3 bedrooms with 4 or 5 kids in two of the bedrooms and a third "master bedroom" for the parents.

Your feet will not feel the comfort of rugs. There will be no pretty dishes, no wallpaper, no paint on the walls, few towels, and no kitchen cupboards. An outside kitchen, which is really more like a smokehouse, sits close by. That way, if the kitchen catches on fire, at least the whole house doesn't burn down. Meals are cooked over an open fire, no ovens, unless you have had one made out of mud brick. In either case, the aroma of Christmas cookies will not entice your senses.

Stark is the atmosphere, drab the surroundings, but you can make a big difference in the lives of these-hard-working men and women of Laban and their precious families. Please take a minute to think about sending a staff member what we call a Dream Package, which includes a great meal in their eyes of beef, rice, greens, beans, bread, their staple of luku, and a coke. A piece of cloth for Mom and a shirt or pair of shoes for Dad, plus an item of clothing and most likely a small toy for each child. All this for the price of $300.

Your kindness will brighten up the dullness and flood their lives with holiday cheer and the love of Christ.

"He who has pity on the poor lends to the Lord, and that which he has given He will repay to him." Prov 19:17

Merry Christmas from Congo to you!!!

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Aura of II Chronicles 20

God's Word is alive.


Contemporary to all cultures and all times.



Tonight I am awestruck with the 20th chapter of II Chronicles.

The Word speaks for itself. Read these verses with me.

v 1 After this, the Moabites, Ammonites, and with them the Meunites came against Jehoshaphat to battle.

V 2 It was told Jehoshaphat, A great multitude has come against you from beyond the Dead Sea, from Edom (who continued to oppose God and His people, even up to the time of Jesus when Herod (a descendant of Edom) tried to have him killed), and behold they are in Hazazon-tamar, which is En-gedi.

v 3 Then Jehoshaphat feared, and set himself determinedly, as his vital need to see the Lord; he proclaimed a fast in all Judah.

v 4 And Judah gathered together to ask help from the Lord; even out of all the cities of Judah they came to seek the Lord (yearning for Him with all their desire).

v 5 And Jehoshaphat stood in the assembly of Judah and Jerusalem in the house of the Lord before the new court.

v 6 And said, O Lord, God of our fathers, are You not God in heaven? And do You not rule over all the kingdoms of the nations? In Your hand are power and might, so that none is able to withstand You.

v 7 Did not You, O our God, drive out the inhabitants of this land before Your people Israel and give it forever to the descendants of Abraham Your friend?

v 8 They dwelt in it and have built You a sanctuary in it for Your Name, saying.

v 9 If evil comes upon us, the sword of judgment, or pestilence, or famine, we will stand before this house and before You--for Your Name and the symbol of Your presence is in this house--and cry to You in our affliction, and You will hear and save.

v 10 And now behold, the men of Ammon, Moab, and Mount Seir, whom You would not let Israel invade when they came from the land of Egypt, and whom they turned from and did not destroy--

v 11 Behold, they reward us by coming to drive us out of Your possession which You have given us to inherit.

v 12 O our God, will You not exercise judgment upon them For we have no might to stand against this great company that is coming against us. We do not know what to do, BUT OUR EYES ARE UPON YOU. YES!!!

V 13 And all Judah stood before the Lord, with their children and their wives.

Can you imagine what it would do to the heart of God if a great group of His children ALL STOOD BEFORE HIM with our children and their children, earnestly seeking Him with all of our eyes on him, declaring that we do not know what to do????

v 14 Then the Spirit of the Lord came upon Jahaziel son of Zechariah, the son of Benaiah, the son of Jeiel, the son of Mattaniah, a Levite of the sons of Asaph, in the midst of the assembly.

v 15 He said, Hearken, all Judah, you inhabitants of Jerusalem, and you King Jehoshaphat, The Lord says this to you: Be not afraid or dismayed at this great multitude: for the battle is not yours, but God's.

Who is the great multitude in our lives? Who are the great giants? Who is threatening to steal our joy? God says not to fear them. Don't. Fear. Them. There is no reason to fear them. God says so.

Why? Because the battle is not ours; the battle is the Lord's.

v 16 Tomorrow go down to them. Behold, they will come up by the Ascent of Ziz, and you will find them t the end of the ravine before the Wilderness of Jeruel.

So get this next verse. Go down and do what?

v 17 You shall not need to fight in this battle; take your positions, stand still, an see the deliverance of the Lord Who is with you, O Judah and Jerusalem. Fear not nor be dismayed. Tomorrow go out against them; for the Lord is with you.

Now it had to have taken courage to go and confront them, to line up and gather together, to simply show up--yes, that took courage. But to stand there and wait for the onslaught--now that, is downright nonsensical, humanly speaking.

But that is exactly what they were told to do. Show up. Be still. Don't get excited. Put all your trust in God. Go to the very edge of the precipice and calmly wait for God to rescue you!

I LOVE Jehoshaphat's response.

v 18 And Jehoshaphat bowed his head with his face to the ground, an all Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem fell down before the Lord, worshiping Him.

Oh, God, forgive me for all the times you have brought me to a pinnacle of faith, and I diluted my obedience with doubt? How many times have I failed to worship you, to be quiet, to bow down to the ground in total and sweet surrender? Forgive me, Lord.

v 19 And some Levites of the Kohathites and Korahites stood up to praise the Lord, the God of Israel, with a very loud voice.

v 20 And they rose early in the morning and went out into the Wilderness of Tekoa; and as they went out, Jehoshaphat stood and said, Hear me, O Judah, and you inhabitants of Jerusalem! Believe in the Lord your God and you shall be established; believe and remain steadfast to His prophets and you shall propser. BELIEVE, just believe.

v 21 When he had consulted with the people, he appointed singers to sing to the Lord and praise Him in their hold priestly garments as they went out before the army, saying, Give thanks to the Lord, for His mercy and loving-kindness endure forever!

Now Jehoshaphat is bringing out the big guns--PRAISE!

Look what happens next:

v 22 And when they began to sing and to praise, the Lord set ambushments against the men of Ammom, Moab, and Mount Seir who had come against Judah, and they were self-slaughtered. Self-slaughtered!!!

v 23 For suspecting betrayal the men of Ammon and Moab rose against those of Mount Seir, utterly destroyed them. And when they had made an end of the men of Seir, they all helped to destroy one another.


v 24 And when Judah came to the watchtower of the wilderness, they looked at the multitude, and behold, they were dead bodies fallen to the earth, and none had escaped!

. . . v 29 "And the fear of God came upon all the kingdoms of those countries when they heard that the Lord had fought against the enemies of Israel.

v 30 So the realm of Jehoshaphat was quiet, for his God gave him rest round about."

How incredible that God's people got caught up with Him, and God got caught up with their praise of Him.

Remarkable that Jehoshaphat's realm was quiet.

Remarkable that the enemies turned on each other instead of Jehoshaphat and God's people.

Remarkable that the battle was won.

Remarkable the power of humility and the turning of the eyes on God.

Remarkable the investment of praise and its return.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Upcoming Benefit Concert for Laban Ministries Int

On Thursday, Nov 3, at 7 p.m. we are gathering at the Gilead Baptist Church in Taylor MI to lift high the Name that is above every name; that name of Jesus. Thirty-three years ago, my husband and I left for what was then called Zaire, now known as the Democratic Republic of Congo, in the heart of Africa.

I went kicking and screaming inside, petrified of what God might require of me. And you know what, God understood, and he sort of winked at my basket-case state. The first two years I cried everyday from culture shock, loneliness, inability to communicate, fear, and unmet expectations. Oh to grace, how great a debtor. . . The amazing grace of God kept my husband there (the land of his birth and death for both parents), kept our kids there, and kept me there. That's the miracle of those first two years.

That's the victory cry of my soul--I stayed!!! By His Grace and His Grace alone.

I was pregnant on a mission campus with no other missionaries, but his grace kept me staying one day at a time.

Other veteran missionary ladies told me they had their baby in the back of the truck. No worries. Wha?????? I could barely breathe at this news, but. . . I stayed. And I did not have my baby in the back of a truck, thank you very much, but at a medical mission station with the best of care.

God gave us a 9 lb baby boy which I was not able to feed the way I wanted to and had to give him full cream milk with no refrigeration available and only the use of a wood stove to sterilize his bottles, but. . . I stayed. AND HE LIVED WITH NO ADVERSE REACTION TO FULL CREAM MILK CALLED KLIM!

I could barely speak a sentence and certainly did not understand what the nationals were saying to me, but I stayed. The roaring silence of not hearing anyone else in the bush outside my family speak English brought me to a halt emotionally, but. . . I stayed. In time I learned the language and understood when spoken to and loved the breakthrough.

We were without radio, telephone service, or an airport close by to evacuate us had any major health issues arisen, but. . . I stayed, and the Lord healed us without the intervention of a doctor that first year of these lacks. After all, He is Who He says He is--the Great Physician!

I had no malls to shop in, no Jif peanut butter, no chocolate, (yikes); my kids had no gramma or grampa to spoil them, and my mobility stopped at breakneck speed, but. . . I stayed, and God poured out His Spirit and told me He was enough. . . AND HE WAS!!

The stubborn kerosene frig and us just didn't get along. Jim spent hours trying to get it to work for years. It never did that first term, and most days we drank only room temp water in 90 degree weather. No ice cubes or ice cream. No cold cokes. No cold water, but. . . I stayed and saw our level of appreciation sky rocket when those things were once more enjoyed. God loves a thankful heart. He taught us sooooo much about being thankful, praise His Name.

No TV, no movies except World's Apart, no lights, and no running water, but our coping mechanisms seemingly rose from the dead. Lack of these distractions was the very thing that pushed us toward each other in those lonely years. Hours together with no interruptions but a baby's cries became an refuge and created great family life. I kept staying. . .

I stayed until I no longer felt like an alien on Mars

Until I learned the language

Until I realized I was no longer on my way to the Funny Farm

Until the culture shock abated

Until I realized all the things that really mattered in life, I had

Until I saw the Hand of God enough times to let me know I could stay as long as He wanted me to. . .

In Africa

Because He was and is enough.

If I can be a missionary, anyone can.

Since those days, the Lord has done amazing things in Congo, and we want to let you in on some of them.

Please come and join us. Let us meet you and tell you a little more about the wonderful people we work with in Africa.

Come and hear our son, Jack's, amazing, passionate voice.

Come and be a part of the link of rescuers, rescuing souls from Hell through the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ.

We cannot do what we do without you.

Those of you who are already behind this work prayerfully and financially, please allow us to thank you and hug you.

Oh to grace, how great a debtor. . . Thank you Jesus. Without you I am absolutely nothing. I love you so.


Wednesday, October 19, 2011

I'm back!

Hi everyone!

It feels so good to be here writing to you again. The long absence has been due a brand new website being built and then a mess up with the email and password. A graphically gifted man donated hours of thought and time into redesigning the website and combined his talents and thoughts with those of our youngest son, Jack Smith, and this is what they came up with www.labanminisries.org.

I intend to get back to blogging very soon. In the meantime, please pray for a court date that is coming up on October 25, 2011 in Congo where we serve the Lord as missionaries. It is over a property dispute. More on that later.

Have missed you.

Nancy Smith

Thursday, July 28, 2011


July 2nd was the 28th promotion of Laban Bible Institute. Five men and one woman were given a diploma after completing three years of study. For some, that means separation from their families for much of the years that they attend. It may mean a walk of over 100 miles one way, six times in one year, as they come in October, return to their village for Christmas, come back to school in January until Easter, and then finally return home in July for the dry season.

All were in good health and high spirits and their relatives showed great pride as they embraced and kissed their son or daughter after receiving the prized diploma. Six chorales from all over the area sang. Some of our instruments, speakers, and amplifiers are all worn out, so we did it all accapella, but truthfully, nothing was missed as the multi-harmonies blended so well. The program consisted of a short discourse from the academic dean, prayer led by three people, a challenge from God's Word given by Pastor Kilasi, our present lab tech and pastor of the church at Ntsiangobo (formerly pastored by the late Pastor Kilundu), special messages to the grads by Jim and myself.

Four hours later, we returned home to dine with our friends with Kinshasa while a small crowd of approximately 150 people enjoyed two roasted pigs we acquired by trading for motorcycle parts. As well as luku (wall paper paste!) and greens. The chorale groups continued singing until after dusk, which we could hear all the way from our home. The wealth and beauty of this significant day lulled us to sleep that evening and we praised God for these soldiers of the cross who are just starting the good fight. They join ranks with our other 500 graduated pastors in this huge province of Bandundu, Congo.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Glory Day

We experienced a glory day in Congo. We, along with our friends from Kinshasa, made our way to Mbila where several students and staff taught 1 Corinthians 5:1-21, after which, as much as possible, the village was evangelized with the D. James Kennedy Explosion program. This continued until dark and then the movie The Passion was shown to 1500 people. Many professions were made.

While the Explosion program was taking place, I had the privilege of showing our friends our Ecole De Femme (our women's literary center). First we visited group A who spouted off fact after fact about the book of Colossians such as:

* The author
* When it was written
* The theme
* Total amount of verses
* The recipients

Hands were flying in the air with the other hand holding their precious Bibles, some of which you have provided. Faces were filled with joy and pride as they confidently answered question after question. Then we visited group B, a large group of women who knew somewhat how to read last August when they started classes. They gave the same responses about the Galatians in like manner.

The last class of ladies was group C. They totaled about fifty and were thrilled to see so many white people. They beamed as they stood to read the alphabet in rapid fashion, then their vowel, consonants, words, and phrases. How far they have all come in 11 months! What a deliverance from darkness, despair, ignorance, and hopelessness. Blessed with the true wealth of God's Word, they excitedly recited some of that wealth that they have claimed for themselves that nothing and no one can rob them of. The experience was delicious for all of us.

The truth of Psalm 3:3 rang true today:

"You are my glory and the lifter of my head."

Glory! Glory! Glory!

Friday, July 22, 2011

Jesus Wept

Recently, as our missionary friends and children gathered in our living room and dining room, Pastor Kilasi appeared at the door to ask if Mabwa, our mechanic, could come quickly and drive the land cruiser up to the dispensary to take a mom to the state clinic. Her baby's head was out of the birth canal, but she could not deliver the shoulders because of her lack of strength. A few hours later, they returned to tell us that the eleven pound baby boy was born dead.

All the anticipation of seeing her number two baby face to face was swallowed in grief and loss for this young woman. May the God of all comfort minister to her breaking heart. Jesus wept and so do we.

Monday, July 11, 2011

The Wake of Death

Traditions. Traiditions! So hard to break. Their clutching tentacles embedded deeply in years of repetition become at times roots of horror and haunting regret. Such is the case of Ngunza's family.

On june 4, 2011, our favorite sentinel came to work as usual. His wife was ready to deliver anyday. She had made several prenatal visits to our dispensary, and Marvina, the head nurse and midwife, admonished her not to waste any time getting herself back to the dispensary once she went into labor.

"Do you promise me to comply?" "Yes" was the response. "Do you understand how important it is for you to come right away? You've already had six children. I urge you not to delay when you start contracting, OK?" "OK." That was the day before she started her labor.

We left for Kinshasa the next day, not realizing that conversation had taken place between Marvina and Ngunza's wife.

The morning after our arrival in Kin, Jim groaned over the phone as Pastor Ezekiel told him of her death. She had delivered twins and bled to death.

There was apparently no problem birthing the twins, but a while later she began to hemorrhage. Ngunza was at work down aerobic hill that leads to the mission as a night sentinel, and he didn't even know what was going on.

Anger and sorrow braided with perplexity gripped me. The family doesn't own a bike, but I know bikes are available.

Why didn't she go through with her vow to get to the dispensary right away?

Why didn't anyone tell Ngunza she was in labor? It would have taken about 10 minutes to get to him.

Why didn't they carry her there, especially when she started bleeding?

Why did the family sit by and allow her to lose all that blood?

I don't know. What I do know is that Ngunza's wife is not the only one to not break tradition, to not go against the tide and risk heavy ridicule from the relatives.

Village tradition says, "We can handle this ourselves. We can save some money by staying home. We want to resort to village cures first. We don't need to go get help until things get really bad."

Shindani was expecting her fifth child in 1992. The first four died in her womb. instead of getting her to a doctor at the first sign of labor, the village "fathers" waited five days. Then, when desperation set in on Shindan's part, such as labored breathing and agonizing pains with no relife in sight, they brought her to us. But it was too late.

As Jim was fueling up the airplane to fly her to Vanga for a C section, she died near the airplane hangar.

Needless deaths in both cases.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Field of Dreams

As I walked our airstrip today, memories flooded my mind of the past three decades we have traveled back and forth to this country of Congo. When we arrived, there was no way of communicating with missionaries at Vanga, 57 miles from here or in Kikwit, 60 miles south of us. Had there been a medical emergency or political crisis demanding evacuation of our family, our vehicle would have been our way out. Jim chose a site of the much-needed airstrip about a mile from our home. Local villagers were encouraged to help cut down the 1000 or so scrub trees that filled the land. Our staff then cleared the land of the stumps by hand with shovels and leveling began by running the 7 ton army truck (1957 Mercedes) back and forth over the rough terrain. Grass was planted and 15 months later, the first plane arrived.

MAF Pilot Gary VanWagner landed the first ever Cessna 206 to grace our little "O-Hare -y" airport. What a great occasion it was, celebrating with elephant horns, the butchering of a cow, and the attendance of hundreds of people, drums, and happy faces everywhere, praising God for this wonderful development. The coming of MAF would mean a quick medical evacuation if needed for delivering babies, treating all kinds of threatening diseases - serious malaria cases, broken limbs, and accidental injuries that otherwise may have claimed lives. In those early days, MAF pilots were angels in my eyes as they dropped long-awaited mail to us, which was a life-line to me. I will remember how forlorn I became after going without mail for weeks and weeks while still dealing everyday with culture shock and loneliness that first year in Congo.

Jim became so concerned, he drove all the way to Vanga, where MAF had dropped off mail for us and then turned around and drove all the way back to NKara, arriving at 3 a.m. I heard the sound of the motor rumbling down Aerobic Hill and quickly lit the kerosene lamp to meet him. On the table he placed a stack of letters which I sat up the rest of the night reading. Now we had our own airstrip and mail could come frequently. The airstrip also provided a way to bring Shawn home when she attended school at Karawa, Then later we welcomed our three older children back home when they attended school in Kin at TASOK. The airstrip also enabled visitors to come see Laban for themselves, which included those who helped build LBI and Radio Glory.

Lastly, I love that strip because it has been my prayer altar for years. It is such a welcome reprieve from all the demands of the mission. God has met us there through ideas He has given, through victories He has assured us of through the supply of His presence, and the conviction of sin and promise of forgiveness and restoration, through worshiping the Lamb slain before the foundation of the world and delighting in the bright hope of the believer's future. Thank you, Lord, for this sacred ground.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

A typical day on the mission campus in Congo

Many have asked what a typical day in Congo is like. Although each day is somewhat predictable, events can occur that are so spontaneous they cancel any plans that might have been in place.

For instance, a severe tropical storm can come out of the blue, sending everyone to retreat to their homes or the nearest shelter, not to be seen again until all is calm.

Other "interruptions" come our way. Sometimes they are from the hand of God; sometimes they are from the enemy.

Yesterday, we should have left the house at 7:30 a.m. to go to the Women's Literacy Center at Mbila. However, a surprise trip to Bulungu, the local government center, was required to present our case in defense of our ownership of Nkara-Ewa. This meant that several lunches had to be packed for the men going, including Jim, and thinking through of all that may be needed for the trip, such as legal documents, water, shovel, and money. Than two students made their pleas to go as well, one to repair a bike, the other to go as far as Bulungu and then on to the hospital at Vanga for a large hernia that could not longer be ignored.

After seeing the group off with prayer, we headed out for Mbila. No one was waiting for us there, which isn't really unusual in Congo according to Congo time. Things simply start when they start. But an usually long delay eventually proved that a 3-year-old toddler we had seen being carried on the road 2 days previously--her limp body hanging in the arms of her father--had died. He and his reltives were half walking/half running to get the child to the nearest clinic some miles away. She died this morning, probably of malaria.

The lack of attendance was explained. In Congo, if someone dies from your village, in your village, or wherever they might be at the time, especially if they belong to your family, you become a suspect of the cause of death if you do not present yourself to grieve with them.

After waiting more than an hour, a large crowd did gather of groups A, B, and C, and we had classes.

Before leaving Mbila, Marie, the Director of the Lit Center and the professors visited the family and spoke on the meaning of death and the hope of seeing Jesus again.

We then returned to Nkara and telephoned the travellers to Bulungu. They had made it safely, having crossed the hippo and crock infested waters of the Kwilu River on the barge and were passing through various government offices.

I took a short break and then walked the mile and a half round trip to Laban Bible Institute to teach Malachi that same afternoon. Congo's scorching tropical sun beat down on me, and I was relieved to arrive in the cool shelter of the building.

After reviewing the introduction, themes, outline, and first 6 verses of Malachi, I returned home, changed clothes, and climbed aerobic hill to call Jim. I met Pastor Kilasi and Pastor Richard visiting from Iwungu, who said they had tried calling the group several times to no avail.

My mind was on heading towards the airstrip for a prayer walk, which I love doing in the cool of the afternoon. The strip is 3400 feet long and usually a caressing breeze makes it a very pleasant place to pray.

But, as I started of, the pastors and Aza of our work staff warned me not to go. "Madame, the son of Lumenga (a former member of our work staff) recently lost his mind. He's doing crazy things like undressing himself and sleeping in the dirt. Just this morning he went down to the mission and threw rocks at Pastor Mboma's windows."

As he was about to enter university in Kikwit the previous fall, he became very concerned about his ability to make it and get good grades, so he started attending sessions with magicians and witch doctors to insure good grades and success in school. Now his life is apparently in shambles, and he has the spirit of demons, even endangering people's lives if he can get close enough to them.

He became so distracted with demonic seduction that he never completed even a trimester of studies and has returned home to his heartsick parents, but they cannot contain him.

Ironically, just this moment as I am writing this blog, a voice is heard in our front yard. It is the voice of the young man I am describing chanting in nonsensical language, waving his arms in the air with a bow in his possession.

One never knows what a day holds here in Congo. We are staying put until someone apprehends him.

The most typical thing about a typical day in Congo is that you can count on the unexpected!

A Twin Delivered

A couple of weeks ago, I asked our Bible institute students to give their testimonies. One was particularly interesting.

His name is Kalala, and he was reared in a village of another denomination. Because he is a twin, he was asked to perform ceremonies on newborn twins, who even in the 90's in parts of Congo were frowned upon though no longer murdered.

He told me that each twin had to be wiped down with a white, chalky substance to invoke blessing and prevent illness and death. A minister from the only denomination allowed in that village told Kalala he and others assisting him must die when they expressed great interest in opening a church of a different faith, real faith.

But. . . he did not die. He was beaming with the joy of being delivered first through salvation from evil rites performed on him and on those which he performed on others, not to mention the horrors of hell before he trusted Christ, as well as the freeing God's word rendered to him to carry out His will.

How exciting to be a part of all of this. It is absolutely exhilerating to the soul!

Monday, May 30, 2011

Fourteen Mile Trek Just For a Sewing Lesson

The women of Mbila continue to amaze me. I stayed behind in Kinshasa when we first arrived in Congo this time to wait for a projectors from America to arrive. When I flew into Nkara, at the airport were close to 40 women who had walked 7 miles to be part of the welcoming crew.

A few days later, as I was walking to the Bible institute to teach Malachi, I saw several women in the old Bible school building. They were the same women from Mbila who had welcomed me. Only this time, they had walked all that way for a sewing lesson at the Bible school! The trek from Mbila to Nkara is 14 miles round trip, but oh so happy they were to be lifted above the doldrums of village life into a beautiful world of creativity, by sewing a skirt for themselves or a pair of culottes for their child.

My first day of teaching Malachi to these women was yesterday. The day before, I heard them give a recitation about Philippians that told me that they know that book like the back of their hand. They then went on to give the history, introduction, and main theme of Colossians, while group B was going verse by verse through Galatians.

It blows my mind with exultant praise to God to see how satisfying and completing is the Word of God to these ladies. When I visited group C, I was thrilled to see their progress as well. A few short months ago they didn't know A from Z. Now, some of them zoom through the alphabet, read and write all the vowels, are learning their consonant sounds, and read, write, and speak short sentences.

Many of them are in their thirties and forties and they work very hard and long hours to recognize and speak words. To them, the 14 mile journey from Mbila to Nkara and back each week is the icing on the cake. God bless the women of Mbila.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Our Next Women's Literary Center

Yesterday, six women appeared at the gate with gifts of bananas and avocados. Traditionally, people travel long distances just to welcome us to Congo and extend well wishes on us. These came from about five miles away. The sun was baking us, so we made our way to a large shade tree in front of our house. Just then, the professors from the women’s lit. school joined us to meet together and discuss and plan for the rest of the school year at Mbila. Our visitors said that they had been watching what a blessing the school had been to the women of Mbila and asked, with great interest, if we would start one at their village.

I quickly gave them four prerequisites before we could hold classes there:

There must be order. The children had to be confined to another part of the village as we cannot teach with hundreds of kids running around.

There must be a building in which to teach.

It had to be the will of God.

There must be great hunger on the women’s part to learn to read.

We, of course, cannot have two literary centers at once, so we will have to wait until 2013 when we graduate the women of Mbila. Looks like our work is cut out for us for the next five years.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

On His Knees

Aaron, a third year Bible institute student, grinned widely as he walked through the door, beaming with joy and enthusiasm. His smiles are never far away. He is a pleasure to be around. Showing his copious notes taken at last year’s Romans seminar, he reviewed the points he learned about the incredible grace of God - how it never runs out, how vital it is to our functioning, how available it is to everyone, even children, and how it calms the soul and works patience in our lives. He correlated the grace of God with 15 Bible verses and shared this information in a three day seminar about 60 miles from here over Christmas vacation.

The results were quite rewarding. Thousands attended and many responded positively for the Gospel of Jesus Christ. As he kneeled, he handed me a tithe from the offering taken those three days and asked me to bless it. What a delight it was to consecrate the one dollar and eleven cents in the envelope to be used in the ministry of Laban. He walked sixty miles to hand deliver it. Without a doubt, I received the biggest blessing.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Psalm 20

May the Lord answer you when you are in distress
may the name of the God of Jacob protect you.

May He send you help form the sanctuary
and grant you support from Zion. . .

May He give you the desire of your heart
and make all your plans succeed.

We will shout for joy when you are victorious
and will lift up our banners in the name of our God

May the Lord grant all your requests.

Now I know that the Lord saves his anointed;
He answers him from His holy heaven with the saving power of his right hand

Some trust in chariots and some in horses,
but we trust in the name of the Lord our God,

They are brought to their knees and fall,
but we rise up and stand firm. . .

O Lord, answer us when we call!

Friday, April 29, 2011

The deeds of faithless men. . .

We have served the Lord in Congo for almost 33 years. My husband, Jim, was born into missionary life. He was handed down a legacy full of the wealth of faith, the peaceable fruits of righteous parents, the challenges brought about by living in a third world country, the ecstacy of seeing the Hand of God work in the hearts of men so that 1200 were baptized in a day at a time multiple times, and the transformation of depraved souls being rebirthed into the family of the Etneral One. This is the springboard of his childhood from which he jumped into serving Christ as an adult, making his own inroads, knowing God for himself through the death of his father first at the age of 11, and then promising God after the death of his 18-year-old brother when Jim was 16 that he would give God a year by reading the Bible. If, during that year, God proved Himself to my husband, he would give that Book its due for the rest of his life. This he has consistently attempted to do.

I come from great stock but stock who did not embrace the Savior passionately, nor did they know Him for most of their lives. But God in His mercies reached down and lifted my head and heart to know Him at the age of twelve. I walked upstream as a teenager to go to church, to read my Bible, to venture out in faith because my parents were both burned as teenagers by the church and its leaders and did not understand my newfound faith.

When Jim and I met in Bible school, I was captivated by his confidence in God. Our first 13 years of marriage were spent serving Christ at a local church in Michigan. Then Congo called, and I was never to be the same person again. I owe much of my molding and shaping to this country we missionaries can love and hate at the same time. Love it for the opportunities it offers to minister, for the hunger we see here to know Christ, for the simplicity of life and the forcing of one's soul to get and live back to and in the basics of life. We at the same time can hate the injustice we see all around, including graft and corruption beyond imagination that has become a mindset and mentality for those used and abused by the system.

Corruption in the "church" is the worst. We face a community group who has taken on the name of a denomination here in Congo that is full of hypocrisy. And, as Ezra faced great lapses in time while rebuilding the temple because of opposition and discouragement, and Nehemiah had to take a strong stand against men who tried to bluff him and his coworkers into fear and dismay, so we must take courage as we make our way to the mission campus to fight the good fight of faith.

We Christians tend not to like that word, fight. BUT it is Biblical, and there is such a thing as righteous indignation. Righteous indignation over impudence and hardheartedness. Spurgeon (and I paraphrase and quote his commentary out of Morning and Evening on April 28 (evening):

"Impudence refers to a hardness of forehead, a lack of holy shame, or boldness in evil. . . For a sinner to go to God's house and pretend to pray to Him and praise Him displays a brazen-faced hypocrisy of the worst kind!. . . Hardheartedness is having a heart of stone, although through grace I now have a new and fleshy heart, much of my former stubbornness remains. I am not affected by the death of Jesus as I ought to be. Neither am I moved by the ruin of my fellowmen, the wickedness of the times, the chastisement of my heavenly Father, and my own failures, as I should be. O, that my heart would melt at the mention of my Savior's sufferings and death. The Savior's precious blood is the universal solvent. It will soften even me, until my heart melts as wax before the fire

We all identify with these two ugly descriptions of character. No one is devoid of them. However, when both hardheartedness and impudence not only come knocking but are allowed to stay because we don't battle or deal with them or are so sin sick we don't recognize them, then that's another issue.

And this is what we are up against at the mission in the months ahead. Some of the impudence and hardheartedness we will find in people there who are unredeemed, instruments of satan. We will also find it in believers. Believers who have allowed sin to come and indwell, make itself at home in, and overtake their wills and hearts. They have stopped endeavoring to lead a blameless life as described in Psalm 15. They have stopped doing what is righteous, stopped speaking the truth from their hearts, stopped refusing to have slander on their tongues, stopped refusing to do their neighbors wrong, stopped refusing to cast slurs on their fellowman, stopped despising vile men, stopped honoring those who fear the Lord, and stopped keeping their oaths. . .

So we are approaching this time out here in a fighting mode. Fighting for what pleases God, fighting for righteousness, fighting against evil, rampant immorality, corruption in the church, and fighting against lifestyles impregnated with lies. We do this on our knees; the battle is the Lord's. Will you fight the good fight with us?

In the meantime, God forbid that we allow the deeds of faithless men to cling to us, Ps. 101:3b. We must not obsess ourselves with their evil slander, with their evil tongues, with their bullying, with their threats and their illegal documents. We must not allow these evil deeds to rob us of our joy and the abundant life for which Jesus came, but glory in His Presence, and praise Him which is the highest form of trust we can give to our Lord Jesus Christ because we know it's not about us but about His glory!

Monday, April 25, 2011

Remembering Chico

Tonight as I sat at the computer posting comments on Facebook, my mind went back to decades ago when we had a chimp named Chico. We took him off the hands of missioanries in Kinshasa who had no problem letting him go. They at that time lived in Kinshasa, had taken Chico into their lives when he was a baby, and he was now in need of more space.

We drove our 1957 Mercedes Army Truck (it was now 1983) out of the city on our way to our bush mission station of Nkara-Ewa. At the time there was a roadblock at the end of the city, where "soldiers" hasseled people for money, somewhat similar to the troll in a nursery rhyme I heard as a kid. As we pulled up to the well-known barrier, the "security" person walked up to the passenger side of the truck, and to his amazement Chico jumped up to the front seat from the back to greet him. Chico put his leg on Jim's leg, made his way closer to the "guard", and became chief of the day. The man backed up very quickly and motioned us to go on. That was one time we didn't have to pay anything.

Chico grew very close to Jim. He went on road trips with him, sitting in his lap with his hands on the steering wheel as if he knew what he was doing. He had a take charge kind of personality. These memories are playing in my mind tonight:

Chico charging after Todd at the age of about 11 as he was riding his little Honda 50in the yard, jumping on the back of it, and pulling Todd's hair. Todd won, but it was a struggle.

Me chasing Chico in the house with a broom after he dipped his fingers in the jelly jar.

Chico coming after me with a big limb when he saw Jim and I holding hands. I escaped.

Chico grabbing a baby out of his mother's arms and running to climb a tree holding a real live baby in his arms, not realizing that human babies do not hold on to the hair of a chimp's chest as do baby chimps. The baby was quickly rescued and returned to his mother.

Chico running up to Shawn's bedroom and sprawling out on her bed with his hands clasped under his head and one leg crossed over the other until Shawn found him and evacuated him from her room.

Chico climbing the clothes line, grabbing our clothes, and scurrying up the big mango tree, semidressing himself, peering down at us as if to say, "Catch me if you can."

Chico sitting in the back seat of our Blazer, swigging Coke from the bottle with his knees crossed and one hand behind his head.

He truly brought us a lot of laughter and good times. There never was a dull moment when he was around. Remembering Chico reminds me that God has an amazing sense of humor!

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Kinshasa and my friends

Kinshasa is the capital of the Democratic Republic of Congo. Recent road improvements are greatly appreciated, and more road work is in progress. Since we are so close to the equator, our days and nights are both an even 12 hours long, year long.

Yesterday I went grocery shopping. I remember the days when the only things on the shelves were tomatoe paste and flour. However, today many shops are available with a great variety of products. Josee Ibaya, a gal we have known for decades, works with Mission Aviation Fellowship and lent me her driver. We spent 3 hours going to two stores getting food and exchanging currency.

The lovely Grings family has provided an apartment just behind their house for us. Electricity is on again off again, and so we use a small generator to give us current when city lights don't come on.

As I sat with my missionary friends upon arrival and saw their sweet faces, I thanked God for women who stay with their call, who serve Jesus Christ in uncomfortable situations, who live with clothes half washed in the machine, food half baked in the oven, and lack of water when there is no current.

I love you guys. You reassured me it was no big deal. But I don't think God sees it that way at all. He sees your labor of love and the fact that remain faithful to Him. I am proud of you all and love you very much, and want to gently and lovingly remind you to keep on keeping on.

Returning to Congo

The long-awaited day of April 20 has come and gone. After reassuring the people at the ticket counter of United Airlines that we could indeed check all of our 20 pieces all the way through to Kinshasa, and after their phone call to confirm that our overnight in Johannesburg was mandatory made by the airlines, I breathed a sigh of relief, and the tagging of each bag began. We pack our goods in plastic tubs purchased from Walmart because it is the cheapest way to go. However, there is no way to secure the tub with a lock, so they are closed with plastic ties.

Some of the tubs were 1 lb over the alloted 50, and others were 5 or more lb. Obviously, we need a better scale in the States! So that meant that we had to dig in each overweight piece and put however items that equaled that weight into another tub. In this case, we brought an extra tub just in case. Good thinking, Jim!

So, because Jim bought a gazillion extra ties, and soon all the opened tubs were once more weighed, passed the weight test, and resealed. Whew!

This process took about an hour and 15 minutes, and we made our way to the gate in Detroit, never to put eyes on our luggage again until we reached kinshasa, hopefully. We fell into our seats & relaxed for the hour flight to Chicago. From Chicago we went on to Washington Dulles, about a 2 hr. flight, and then we boarded South African Airlines for Johannesburg. I took a melatonin and rested in lala land most of the 16 hr. flight.

The evening in Johannesburg was cool and beautiful. This is their fall. June and July will bring winter weather. We ordered a lovely meal in our room, fell into bed, and slept until 2:30 a.m. Arose and reviewed some things awaiting us in Congo, and left the hotel at 6 a.m.

Arrival on Friday in Kinshasa was uneventful, and all 20 pieces made it!!! Yay God. Thanks for your prayers and concern. We are in this together.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

about to leave

Many years ago, after participating in a mission conference several nights of the week, the pastor of the church told Jim and I he felt his church would not be supporting us because there was too much "glory" in what we did. By that he meant that his church attenders would not understand and be able to equal our experiences of traveling through Europe and purchasing expenses perfumes and the like. In other words being a missionary was all about the glory. . .

It is now about 4 a.m. Weary, exhausted, and not feeling very glorious, we are about to climb in a car, take 19 trunks to Metro Airport, deal with people who are freaked out at our "excess" baggage, board 3 planes during two stops, and sit in one of them for 16 hours straight until we land at Johannesburg.

Once in Kinshasa, we unpack, sort, and repack all the goods, sending the heavier ones up on a rented truck to Kikwit, where we will hire another truck to deliver them to the mission campus because both of our trucks recently died. The lighter trunks will follow us up on the MAF plane, where we once again unpack, sort, and put away either upstairs or downstairs, begin cleaning a house that has not been lived in since October, 2010, deal with an enemy organization recently enlarged by men we had to let go of last trip, go to court over the property given to Jim's father in the 40's, which they continue to claim is their own, and deal with new staff issues.

After we settle in a little bit, we will witness miracles, laughter, tears, untold joy, spiritual breakthroughs, staff meetings, discipleship meetings under a big old mango tree at the dispensary, funeral(s), teaching in Laban Bible Institute, incredible evangelism outreaches, ministering in the Women's Lit Center attended by 94 women at Mbila, hearing moving testimonies from some of these women, letting more staff go, meeting returning students in the Bible school, attending graduation, and a myriad of other experiences.

We come home the richer for having been in a third world country, like Congo. And the glory? Yes, it will be there. But not the glory this pastor spoke of. It will be the glory of God unleashed! which is ETERNAL! Praise His Name!

Eve of our Departure

Tomorrow we will rise at 4 a.m. and leave approximately 1/2 hour for the airport. The kind neighbor across the street has offered to take all of our 19 trunks (including a lawn mower & 4 trunks of solar radios) in his trailer, which Jim is at this minute loading with the packed, sealed, addressed, spotty spray painted, 50 lb plastic tubs.

It has been stressful and draining to restrain ourselves from buying even what we could really use in Congo as well as actually unwrapping it (to reduce weight), packing each item in a zip lock bag if it is something that could spill, and weighing it so as not to exceed the allotted measly 50 lb. limit per piece of checked baggage. Money for supplies is tight and also shipping each trunk has become very expensive. If we can go with some of the many things we need once we get to Africa, we prefer doing that. But that may mean up to more than 30 trunks. That's a no no this year. We are doing half of that this year. Hooray for restraint!

As with many ministry organizations, Laban Ministries International has been hard hit over the past two years, especially. This resulted in making staff cuts, paring down expenses here, thinking about every potential expense before making it one, and taking pay cuts ourselves. Despite the fact that we have had less to work with, we are current in overseas salaries, have no credit card balances, owe no one anything (except to love them), and continue to see God provide as He has since the inception of this work in 1938.

The little book of Philippians tells us to rejoice 16 times. It's not an option or a suggestion. It is a command. Furthermore, Paul goes on to say that reminding his audience repeatedly to rejoice is not something that he tires of doing. He says that for them it is safe. In other words, it is like a safety net around them that keeps them in line, stabilizes them, and produces an even keel in the hectic lives they lived, even way back when. They need no longer focus on what they don't have but on the one whose every gift or lack thereof is good and perfect.

So, I thank you Lord that we are taking less this year. That means less stress in buying, less stress in packing, less money outlay for shipping, less keeping track of, and a lot of other lesses. Thank you for less, Lord. Less is really more.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Holding on to your dreams

Imagine having no radio where you live, no TV, no way of being let in on news of any kind No media. No newspapers. TOTAL ISOLATION would be your world.

This has been the lot of bush dwellers in our area of the Congo. Superstition, fear, discouragement, depression, loneliness, and boredom are the products of this kind of isolation.

A dream of Jim's since 1981 when he along with some of our staff began praying for an effective follow up to consistent widespread evangelism, Radio Glory was finally birthed 23 years later in July, 2004.

Many would have given up on the dream much sooner.

However, one of Jim's gifts is faith, and so discouragement is not his lot, even if it means waiting, and waiting, and waiting.

Even if it means people doubting the validity of his dream.

Even if it means no funding to finance the dream.

Even if it goes against the norm; i. e. a radio station flourishing in the bush of Congo, 400 miles from the capital city?


Because the dream was given by God.

Because the dream was to benefit the poor who are a class of people very close to the heart of God.

Because the motive of the broadcasting was not only to diffuse the isolation, but to exult the Word of God, which God holds equal to His Name.

Because God is faithful and if He gives the dream, He will fulfill it, despite the obstacles.

Because God is worthy.

Hold fast to your God-honoring dreams.

Wait on Him, and in the waiting, be sure you praise His Holy Name,

For He inhabits the praises of His people.

Remember how David assigned 4,000 people in the temple to the job of PRAISING GOD.

Remember that there are myriads of angels whose occupation in heaven is to praise the Lord 24/7.

Remember who you are talking to: The Ancient of Days, the Great I AM, the Creator, and Redeemer of all mankind.

Remember that you are fearfully and wonderfully made by the One who knows all your down sittings and uprisings.

Remember that while we were yet sinners, Christ, the Darling of Heaven, died for us.

Remember that the Israelites continued to stray in the wilderness for 40 years because they did not remember what great works God wrought in their lives delivering them out of Egypt.

Dream, pray, wait, hold fast, praise, and remember. Don't be sucked up by the world's attitude of entitlement. Run from it.

Relinquishment of your will to His and humbling yourself before Him are what He loves and where He is most comfortable and closest to, and the conditions that cause Him to respond.

We are entitled to nothing but Hell apart from Christ.

But oh! What measures He has taken to rescue us from Hell.

"Accepted in the Beloved." The maintainer of my lot. My Alpha and Omega.

My God, I stand in awe of you and your ways.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Lord of Breaking Through

"David smote the Philistines at Baal-Perazim and he said, 'God has broken my enemies by His hand, like the bursting forth of water.' Therefore, they called the name of that place Baal-Perazim--Lord of breaking through."

In a few weeks, we take off for another world we have been privileged to work in for nearly 33 years. As fertile a ground as the land of Congo is spiritually, there are real enemies of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. They come in all shapes, sizes, and guises there just as they do here. They crave power, position, and money at any cost. Like weeds, they spring up and take over ground that is not rightfully theirs.

Having had their hands in the affairs of Nkara-Ewa for more than 50 years first by invitation to take over the state-operated school system, this "church" community has now become fleshly, corrupt, and immoral. In fact, I would go so far as to call them evil. Their strength is deceit; they have crafted lying into an art form.

Property issues settled legally long ago through government-drawn documents given first of all to Dr. & Mrs. Laban Smith, and then confirmed to Laban's wife, Marcella, years after Laban's death have continued to surface, despite the real proof of ownership. Their presence and influence of the mission property of Nkara has been a curse disguised in the cloak of a "church" group known as the Community of Baptist Churches in Congo.

The newly elected Chief pastor of the district voted in last year was found to be guilty of sleeping with more than one woman. He follows a long line of chief "pastors" who have left such legacies as ravagers of national Congolese youths attending the high school at Nkara, confiscating tuition monies for personal gain, lying, cheating, and characteristically living a life-style contrary to the Word of God.

Their 50 year plus presence has gained an incredible stronghold that only God the Holy Spirit can break through.

But we take heart in David's declaration, and we claim with him a spiritual renaming of our Nkara campus: Baal-Perazim, the place where God will break our enemies by His Hand like the bursting forth of water."

Lord, as we return to Congo in a few days, we implore You to come be the Lord of breaking through.

Break through the curse.

Break through the power of their evil presence.

Break through the stronghold they have gained.

Break through the guise and reveal who they really are.

Break through and diffuse their plans to take over Nkara.

Break through their false documents that say "Nkara is theirs."

Break through their traps and our preoccupation of the unknown that is before us.

And in the breaking through, we praise You for the power, blessing, glory and honor you will claim for Yourself.

Amen and amen!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Warm fruit cocktail anyone?

It was a beautiful day in June of 1979 in the Congo.

Jim, Shawn, Nicol, and Todd had just returned from Kinshasa, where they had picked up our first REAL food shipment arriving in Kinshasa from South Africa earlier in the month.

They had first gone by Nkara, our mission campus, to drop off the brand new beautiful aqua and black wood stove. Now we could return Mupia's, which had been left to him by Marcella, Jim's mom years ago, when he used to cook for her. He had graciously allowed us to borrow it until we were able to get our own.

I had flown to the medical mission station of Vanga two weeks before my due date because of some pre-delivery signs. In order to do that, we first had to drive to Kikwit because the airstrip at our mission was not yet completed. It was around the middle of June when we left Nkara with my bags packed, shovels for the road repair one never knew might be needed, food, water, and clothes for the children and Jim.

The plan was to drop me off at Kikwit, a 3 1/2 hour drive in our new Suburban, and stay at the guest house there until the MAF plane could come pick me up. Jim and the children would then proceed on to Kinshasa to get supplies, take them back to Nkara, a 15 hr. trip each way, and finally make their way to Vanga to wait for our baby's birth together.

We did not want to impose on the missionaries at Vanga, Dr. Dan and Miriam Fountain, and felt that I would be enough of a challenge to feed, even though we planned to pay for this service. We called MAF on another missionary's radio from Kikwit, and he picked me up at the Kikwit airport nervous and anxious, contemplating my going into labor on his small plane while making our way to Vanga.

The children and Jim left from Kikwit, arriving in Kinshasa that evening after seeing me off. Things went well, and on June 27, they all returned with delicious commodities such as jelly, fruit cocktail, canned meatballs, and wonderful delectables we had yearned for since January.

Vanga was an American Baptist mission station established at the turn of the century. It is located about 57 miles from our campus. The Fountains were highly respected missionaries, and I felt safe there. I slept in a small brick building, read during the day, and prayed that they would make it before Jack's birth. My due date was June 30. The fellowship I enjoyed with other American missionaries was so wonderful it made the wait easier.

Each night an American nurse slept in the same room as I in case I went into labor. We enjoyed good conversations, and she was encouraging and comforting. Her years of nursing experience gave me confidence and strength.

As the Suburban pulled up to the house that morning I was delirious with joy to see my family once again. Jim and the kids unloaded part of the food shipment, and Shawn and I grabbed a can of fruit cocktail and a jar of strawberry jam.

Gary Kapinga, the first person to come and work with us, came back with Jim and the kids from Nkara and offered to fix lunch for us. He made bread. We cooked some of the canned meat, boiled potatoes which we felt were to die for, and looked forward to enjoying fruit cocktail for desert.

Though Gary had the best of intentions in wanting to help us with the meal, when he brought "desert" to us, the kids wept as they tasted their long anticipated treat. Gary had warmed the fruit cocktail on the stove! Hot fruit cocktail! Having never seen anything a can like this, he had no idea that it was served cold.

The next day, June 28, began with contractions which lasted throughout the morning into the early afternoon. It was time.

We made our way up the hill from the vacant MAF house we were staying in back to the small brick building to finish out labor and delivery. At approximately 5:30 that evening, 9 lb, 21 inch long John Scott Smith, was born. He was healthy and strong. We were all thrilled.

So thankful I did not have to deliver him in the back of our vehicle in between destinations, I looked at his amazing little body, so perfect and praised God for His mercies. Not so with every missionary, some of whom had told me they delivered their babies in the back of a truck. I told the Lord I was too much of a chicken to do that and begged him for as normal a delivery experience as possible. He allowed me to have just that.

Just moments after Jack's birth, (named after Jim's brother who had been crushed to death in a rock fall when he was only 18 and Jim 16), Shawn, Nicol, and Todd took turns holding him.

I will forever be grateful for having Jack in Congo. He made me feel very needed and gave me hours of gratification as I had to keep going to take care of him along with our three other children.

What an amazing kindness of God to bring a baby into our lives in the bush of Africa. He was so welcomed and loved by us all. Not to mention, the thrill Jim experienced of having his own child born born in the country of his birth.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Why didn't you make this a long time ago?

It was May of 1979, two months after our arrival at Nkara-Ewa, the "other world" I was trying so desperately to learn to call "home." Awaiting our food shipment arrival which would take place 400 miles away in Kinshasa, we pursued our new life and new "normal" in a land very foreign to me. It was a world away from the "norm" I left behind.

My new normal was just getting through the day without a melt down or succumbing to the terror of feeling insane. Feeling like we had made a mistake. Feeling as though somehow we had missed God's will.

This surely could not be the life God had carved out so skillfully with loving Hands for us?

I was always told the will of God would fit like a glove. Where was the fit?

How much of the turbulence in my soul was due to my pregnancy hormones?

How much was due to the oppression all around me I couldn't put a name to yet?

How much was real culture shock?

Too wrapped up in just surviving, I was unable to recognize or sort out and process these questions. I couldn't even verbalize them at the time. So, at the end of the day, I lay in the black night of Congo (unless a full moon is out) and quoted Psalm 56:3, "When I am afraid I will trust in Thee." I loved that verse. I loved David because he admitted he was afraid. I was terrified.

His words pumped soothing grace into my soul. "When I am afraid," not "don't be afraid."

He was terror struck. Hunted and dogged. He had control over nothing. He dodged Saul's pursuit of death, never knowing what to expect, where to flee, and dealt on the sly with the once glowing promise that he would one day reign as Israel"s king. Dancing with danger became his portion. Perhaps the glory of Samuel's presence before David's father inaugurating him King of Israel out of all his brothers was now but a dim memory that he found difficult to embrace.

I clung to that verse. I identified with his terror as the shadows of evening fell until in the still quiet of the night, whispering those blessed words over and over, Jesus would come and "sit awhile with me" until sleep finally cradled me.

They say timing is everything. Coming to Congo in the late 70's humanly speaking was bad timing. The president had arrogantly told expatriates to get out. They were no longer welcomed or needed. Congo or Zaire as it was then called could get along very well without them, thank you very much.

So many expatriate businessmen did just that. They pulled out and took their commodities with them, leaving little on the shelves of the stores in Kinshasa but tomato paste and flour. Having no means of transportation yet and not being familiar with where we could get some other food stuffs, we turned to ordering our food from South Africa. Most of the missionary community did the same. I remember filling out that first order with my mouth watering as I contemplated actually tasting some of the items on the list. That order we placed in March we would not see the light of day until June, but we did not know that then. The food order was placed in Kinshasa, 400 miles away from our bush station. It was now May.

Since necessity is the mother of invention and we were all hungry, I decided to venture outside (a rare thing for this pathetic "missionary" to do in those days, and see what I could find. What to my wandering eyes did appear but a patch of spinach growing heartily on a plot of soil that Jim's Mom, Marcella, had planted when she arrived at Nkara the previous November. She died 10 days after her arrival there, but left us a product of her talented green thumb right there in our front yard.

I asked the Lord to show me what to do with all this fresh spinach. Remember the tomato paste? We had plenty of that plus some onions on the shelf in the pantry, both of which I diced and mixed into a black cast iron skillet and heated it on the wood stove. Rice was a readily available commodity. To the tomato past and onion I added pepper, boiled up a big pot of rice, and decided to surprise everyone that evening with my gourmet cooking.

Psalms says it is good to be hemmed in and backed against a corner because it has a way of enlarging us. " You have freed me when I was hemmed in and enlarged me when I was in distress. . . " Ps 4:1 Congo has a way of hemming us into a corner, and the quickest way out is to praise the Lord in the hemming in and in the cornering. That is a form of trust. It enlarges our capacity for the next time. It enlarges our borders. It frees us from the encumbrances of life, from the prison of self-absorption. We must fix our eyes on Jesus to survive. We will find new capacity to jump out of the boat. We don't tend to box Him in as much, and if relinquished to His greater will and good, it produces an attitude of gratitude. We begin to know a little more of Who God really is.

Never was I so thankful for raw spinach, which I had never before treasured. It became precious in my sight. Here was a change in the daily diet of rice and saka saka (African greens cooked in palm oil) that made my palate happy.

That night when the family gathered around the dinner table, I proudly displayed my new concoction. Would I ever have been so excited about presenting my husband and children a dish like this in America? Are you kidding? But because we had suffered what you might call culinary lacks, I was almost gleeful, wondering what their response would be.

We sat down to the table. We partook of the bounty. To my great surprise and delight, my children dove in and ate my offering. The best comment came from Jim. "This is great! Why didn't you make this a long time ago?"

I can't tell you how many times I went to the pantry after that, stared at the sparsely stocked shelves, and said, "Lord what can I make out of this nothing today?" And He gave me ideas over and over again.

I love to quote an incredible Bible school professor Jim and I had the privilege of rubbing shoulders with years ago. Before we were married, Jim was going to quit school because funds were not available to continue. When Dr. Shaw heard of his plans, he said, "Jim, the Lord never steers a parked car." He then rehearsed the story of Abraham sending his servant Eleazar to claim a wife for Isaac. He said, "I being in the way, the Lord led me." Dr. Shaw encouraged Jim to stay in school by faith and trust God for the money. He saw a promising future in this missionary kid's life. So Jim did. A few weeks later, Jim found an envelope in his mail box with a check for the amount of that semester's tuition. "I being in the way, the Lord led me." We do not know to this day who provided that money, but we have an idea.

Sometimes God's leading hurts. It suffers consequences. It is full of testing. It doesn't fit like a glove; in fact, it doesn't seem to fit at all. There are not necessarily answers at the time to the predicaments facing us as a result of doing what we so clearly hearing Him telling us to do. But we cannot faint because of the pain. We must allow God to push us through the pain to the other side, which may be a long way off. However, we must stay in the way. We must keep making ourselves available to Him. We must remain faithful. We must hang in there.

Those first two years I no more felt like a missionary than the goats did that ran through our yard in Congo. The will of God did not fit or feel good at all. I never cried so much in my life, but our glorious Father gave the grace to stay, to stick it out.

Two young men, possibly teenagers or college-aged men in the New Testament were given orders to carry out. One said that he would but he didn't. The other said he wouldn't but he did what he was told to do. I am the latter. I never wanted to go to Africa. For years I ran from the very thing that has helped make me who I am today.

There have to be other missionaries out there who feel the same way I did. You are young and struggling with the hand out God has given you. Life does not look at all as you pictured it would look. Take courage, my dear sister. We are called to share in Christ's sufferings. That spectrum of suffering is multifaceted and varied. This life is short. Let's remember we are just pilgrims. We are aliens. This world is not our home. We are just passing through. We have an adversary, the Devil, who goes about seeking whom he may devour.

Find relief in basking in God's goodness, in knowing you are not called to figure life out. True success is not measured in results or numbers, in popularity or recognition, in wealth or material riches. True success in God's sight is FAITHFULNESS. How many times does the book of Revelation admonish us to persevere.

If God can make a missionary out of me, He can make a missionary out of anyone. All praise, laud, adulation, and glory go to Him who redeems us and our situations as many times as they need redeeming. Beware of settling in to despair, of letting it become your bedfellow. Fight it with praise and letting God's Word be the salve of your sad soul. Don't allow it to paralyze you from exulting Him in the storms of life. Even in the darkness and pain you feel, lift your hands heavenward and tell Him He is worthy of the suffering you may be going through. "Count it all joy" James says when you fall into various trials, even though you feel artificial when you offer those words of praise. David calls thiss a SACRIFICE of praise because we don't feel like praising. Nonetheless He asks us to obey. Obedience is the best. It brings about the peaceable fruits of righteousness. Praise Him because God says you should. Just do it!!

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

As your days, so shall your strength be

I ended my last post recalling how I prayed for the rapture to take place each night in bed while listening to the rats gallop across the attic floor shortly after we arrived at the mission campus of Nkara-Ewa.

We had really arrived.

We were really here to stay.

No more dreaming or wondering what life would actually look like in Africa. It was now in front of our faces. We were living life in the BUSH.

Eventually, the D-con we brought took care of the "horses hooves" sound in the attic. Nonetheless, I continued to ask the Lord to come rescue me from my loneliness, culture shock, inability to communicate with the people He called us to minister to, and fear of losing the baby I was carrying because that might be what it took to make me a good missionary! Crazy?, yes, but that was my reality. I pondered losing our baby over and over again.

Why? Because I knew it had happened to others in Africa. Yes, the rapture would be an honorable way to leave it all behind.

I had signed up for ministry at the age of 22 when I married Jim. We were immersed in every phase of outreach at the Warrendale Community Church in Dearborn, Michigan, he for 13 years and I for 10 years. Then we went on a wild ride into music evangelism for 3 years. Being called by God into ministry as a vocation, as a passion, and as a lifetime endeavor is risk taking. Because God chooses to prove Himself again and again for His glory's sake to anyone willing to be a proving ground, He can show up in any fashion He so chooses. Since His ways are so far above our ways, I knew we would not be exempt from some of the suffering missionaries and pastors undergo, even to the point of dying themselves or surrendering their children into the arms of God; i.e., Laban and Marcella Smith.

They were my role models.

They set the stage.

They were my pattern to follow.

They were a legacy in Congo.

They were my legacy.

Still are.

As I faced this real possibility but long-shot probability each day, I began developing a pattern by the grace of God that would more than likely save me from high blood pressure, heart attack, and nervous breakdown big time. I entered the life-support world of RELINQUISHMENT and SURRENDER. If there is one place in the world where one is never in control, it is Congo. More than not, whatever can go wrong usually will go wrong. Despite the curse the country seems to be wearing, the spiritual returns are absolutely incomparable. Congo is so ripe for the Gospel, it makes most struggles pale in comparison to the results seen when the Gospel is delivered and preaching and Bible teaching find place and take root in the hearts of the nationals.

The idea of surrender was not a new theme to me. But I definitely needed to step it up and to take my level of relinquishing much higher. The bar needed to be raised. Dying to self took on whole new dimensions.

Opening the 31 barrels and 7 crates that same week we arrived at Nkara was a delightful distraction. It was so delicious seeing, touching, and using something from our homeland. We love our "stuff", don't we?, and this stuff became a part of who we were 8500 miles from our mother country. Our stuff brought America closer.

One of the most important items we shipped to Congo was a generator to give us electricity each night. Jim did the necessary wiring, purchased fuel to run the generator, and voila! we had lights!!! Oh, the joy of not sitting in the dark, dark nights in Congo with only candle light or kerosene. To this day, one of the reasons I love my husband was that he saw to it we had electricity from the start. Try going without it a couple of nights and see how you fare!

No phones. No gas stove. Cooking was done on a wood stove, which contained a dial up timer on the front. We used to turn that timer on and wait for it to go off. It was the closest thing to a telephone we had. The kerosene refrigerator we ordered from South Africa never really cooled food or water well. There were no kitchen cupboards, and so sheets of plywood became my counters, placed over the shipping barrels once emptied. No running water. All hand carried. We took baths in a big bowl filled with water carried to the house from a far-away stream and then carried up two flights of stairs. Water was more than a precious commodity!

One day I moved an empty barrel in the living room, only to find a family of scorpions living underneath it. If we only knew--you and me--what the Lord has protected us from all these years, we would fall on our faces and praise HIM!!! Even without knowing, let's fall before Him.

In the meantime, I survived by home schooling Shawn, Nicol, and Todd each day and waiting for Jack to join our family.

My feeble attempt at speaking the language caused great distress. Because I was laughed at, I retreated many times due to embarrassment and frustration. Many days out of those first two years I cried. Jim would often stand looking out our bedroom window, forlorn, repeating, "My God, what have I done to my family?"

Here is where the glory began showing its face. . . in stages.

The glory was in the grace of God that enabled us to stay.

The glory was in the grace of God that enabled us to obey.

Obedience is better than sacrifice.

Because Jim was so concerned about my mental and emotional well being, he decided we needed to get out of the bush on a regular basis. Since few groceries were available in Kikwit (60 miles from us) and on a helter-skelter basis, we would travel to Kinshasa, the capital, 400 miles away to pick up food and supplies and fellowship with some people who would become dear friends.

On one such trip I made my way to Dawn Sawatsky's home to attend the Friday morning prayer time. In the center of the bed was a box of tissues and surrounding the bed were we women on our knees petitioning the Great I AM. Next to me that particular day was a single veteran missionary. I would later learn that a missionary could be called a veteran after one term of service. This lady, however, had given most of her life to service in Congo. I found myself gawking at her, wondering how in the world she managed to accomplish that feat. She was joyful, focused, full of faith, and loved to praise the Lord.

It was the month of December. We had been in Congo for a year. As we knelt that day and I imbibed the prayers of these wonderful heroes of the faith, something miraculous happened in my heart.

As what I perceived to be the beautiful incense of their prayers rising up to the throne of The Ancient of Days, I started praising God for the two arms and two legs I had to serve Him. I heard myself saying, "Oh, Lord, if I only had two more hands and two more feet to serve you with, I would gladly do it." All of a sudden (it felt like) I got it! It became real in my heart, not just an intellectual assent, that He kept track of everything I was going through, and nothing would be wasted. He saw my tears. He heard my cries. He knew my fears, and NONE of any of those things would be in vain. None of them. They were not being spent on mediocrity. They were given up to the One Who is Worthy. He was worthy of it all. . . and so much more.

Something was released in me that day. I was never the same again. He spoke peace over me. I experienced the reality of Zephaniah 3:17, "The Lord Your God is in the midst of you. He is Mighty to save. He will rejoice over you with joy; He will rest in silent satisfaction, and in His love He will be silent and make no mention of past sins, or even recall them; He will exult over you with singing"

"Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power and riches, wisdom and strength, glory and honor and blessing!"

What glory! what bliss were mine!

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Arrival at Nkara, March, 1979

Happy New Year to you all!

In 1978, God called my husband to the Democratic Republic of Congo. Despite the fact that people told me I also had to have that call on my life, initially that just did not happen. Anything but. However, I loved my husband dearly and followed the voice of God by following the call my husband heard to Africa.

We spent the first 7 weeks there in the capital city of Kinshasa and then moved more interior to the large city of Kikwit, where we stayed another 6 weeks before finally arriving at the mission campus of Nkara, where Jim spent happy childhood years. While in Kikwit, the children picked up much of the Kituba language, learned songs in Lingala and Kituba, and spent hours learning to entertain themselves. Necessity is the mother of invention, and with limited resources like cereal boxes and bits of material, the girls learned to make doll houses and clothes for their dolls. Todd played soccer, and I waited eagerly for our new baby.

I also anticipated how it would feel to experience God's ultimate will for my life--serving Him on the mission field in Congo. Certainly, the feeling of "glory" would be involved. After all, this was the mission field, from which I had always run, heard weird things about, lost my father-in-law to and now his dear Marcella a short time before our arrival. And so there was a perception on my part that despite all the drama and fear, since we went ahead as a couple and family to become missionaries in Africa, there would be some dramatic compensation on God's part.

In preparation for our trip to Africa, we packed 31 50 gallon drums or barrels, 7 crates, and loaded a new Chevy Suburban with a wringer washer, dishes, and other items to set up housekeeping in Congo. They were shipped by boat in October and word came one day that they had arrived at the port city of Matadi, about 900 miles south of Kikwit in early March.

A national businessman by the name of Mungwa, which means salt, provided transportation to pick up all our shipment and transport it to Nkara, another 60 miles north of Kikwit. The children rode in his large semi, and Jim and I drove the Suburban until we reached the hill down to the mission station. Off we went to the place where both of Jim's parents gave their lives. I waited for the glory.

Dr. Smith had been building the home in 1949-1953 in which we now live while in Congo. It was almost completed on that shocking day in January of 1953. At breakfast that morning he told his family, "I feel so good today I could jump over the moon." He had completed almost all of the beautiful stone structure and was putting rafters on the roof of the porch connected to the master bedroom upstairs. Suddenly, things changed forever. His foot slipped, and he fell 6 feet to a cement floor, starting hemorrhaging internally, and after several hours of waiting for one of the other missionaries to drive Laban to Kikwit to the hospital, it was decided that Jim's older brother, Jack, who was just 13 at the time would drive the 6-ton truck himself . They could wait no longer. Jim, his mother, Jack, and some nationals made the slow, horror-filled trek into town to try to keep Laban alive. They arrived at the hospital 9 hours later, and Laban passed away 60 minutes after that.

Jack and Jim were waiting outside the hospital room where Laban lay. Their mother, Marcella, had come out once and told them that it wouldn't be long "until he goes." Their young minds could not grasp the meaning of her words. She then returned to Laban's room, and soon after that they heard the unforgettable groaning, "Oh! My God!" pouring out from Marcella's soul. She walked out of the room to the place where Jack and Jim were sitting. "Boys, he's gone to be with the Lord," to which Jim replied, "Can he come back?" Marcella left in silence and returned to Laban's room.

Jim and Jack started singing, "Do Lord, Oh do Lord, Oh, do remember me." He was buried a few days later in Kikwit. Thousands and thousands of people attended his funeral. Jim and Jack were in shock.

Would God require that of me? to give up my husband to His service as Marcella was asked to do? Would God ask me to give up one of my children to serve him? What about the baby I was carrying in my womb? My mind raced with awful scenarios about being stranded in the remote bush with a starving baby, after having run out of supplies to take care of him. Jim's brother, Jack, as an 18-year-old was killed in a rock fall. His baby brother had died at the age of 14 months. Would death be my experience as well? After all, people do die on the mission field through martyrdom, accidents, malaria gone wild, and untreated diseases they don't even know they have. They have personality conflicts with other missionaries, power struggles just like their friends in America, breakdowns, and broken hearts. Since I had married into this family who had experienced a life full of tragedy on one hand and exultant, incredible responses to the Gospel and spiritual victories on the other, I asked myself, "What would my lot be?" The fear could be gripping at times at the start of my new, inexperienced missionary career.

After all, my family were blue collar, practical, hard-working, backbone America type of people, who didn't move around a lot and never traveled outside the US. They loved structure, sameness, safety, 9 to 5 jobs, and did not embrace the Savior I loved. My husband grew up in a family of risk-taking, ruggedly living, faith-filled, God-loving adventurers who cried from their souls, "Bring it on, Lord." What was i thinking when I married Jim???

Mungwa's big truck made its way down what we now call aerobic hill, with our children sitting on top of the goods for the last few miles and Jim and I following in the new Suburban we had purchased the year before near Muskegon MI. Muskegon this was not. Lavish green hills and valley awaited us surrounded by a horse-shoe shaped hill. This was Nkara.

Jim got out of the Suburban, and I took over driving so he could capture it on video. Hundreds of people were waiting for us in front of the beautiful three-story brick and sandstone home Laban had built, hoping one day to house his boys returning to Africa to carry on the work. Of the two, Jack was the one who so wanted to return. He wanted to come back as a medical doctor. That dream was snuffed out one cold night in January, 1958, five years after Laban died. When dating Jim, he told me he couldn't even bring himself to talk about his brother's death until about 5 or 6 years. That was in 1964, the year we dated and married.

Childhood is such a gift. Totally oblivious to the gravity of our making the decision to go and actually moving to Congo, Shawn, Nicol, and Todd bounced off the truck, greeted people, and ran down the hill in front of our house to the lake.

We made our way through the crowd and went into the home we had visited in 1969 to see if the Lord was truly calling us to this far-away land. Surely, as I entered the doors, the glory I was waiting for would greet me.

Instead the colors of the walls almost made me pass out along with the smells my sensitive nose took in. The living room was a drab green with bright red baseboards, followed by a mustard yellow dining room, once again accented by red trim. The kitchen was a mixture of the mustard yellow and green, Bathrooms down and up were chocolate brown with black trim, and everywhere was the smell of livestock, who in the Africa culture are very welcome to occupy space in the house. Five families had lived in that home for I don't know how long. Forty-eight windows made for great ventillation, but also allowed other critters to travel about freely because there were no screens on any of these windows.

There were no kitchen cupboards, no appliances, little furniture. We would learn later that a reprobate "pastor" upon Marcella's death which took place in Jim's office downstairs, had stolen a refrigerator, beds, mattresses, clothes, and even the children's toys Marcella had purchased upon her arrival in Congo.

This same man lent us his? bed, his? dining room table and chairs, and his? living room furniture until we could buy our own. A feeling of dread and alienation swept over me as we got through the next several weeks. I couldn't communicate to anyone. There was no running water. I could hardly bring myself to use the toilet upstairs (there was none downstairs) because I was sure a snake lived inside it and might reach up and bite my tush.

We went to sleep by the sound of galloping rats in the attic. Somehow we acquired some rat poison, and when it took affect, we used to wait for the rats to drunkenly make their down to the second floor looking for water. It was our Saturday Night Live. The nearest doctor was 60 miles away, and we had no phone or short wave radio to communicate in case I went into labor. Was this a mistake? Did we somehow miss what seemed to be such clear directions from the Lord?

I began thinking about how we could get out of this mess we found ourselves in, especially me, for my husband spoke the language, which all came back to him after a 26 year absence. I was lost, homesick, and afraid. Then the idea came on my bed one night that we could leave honorably if the rapture took place! So each night I prayed and prayed that the Lord would do just that--rapture us from this isolated misery I found myself in. There was no glory here. Something had gone terribly wrong. We wouldn't dare turn around and go home. Too many people praying. Too many people giving sacrificially so we could make the move, and who would want to face Dr. David Allen's bony finger pointing at us saying, "What are you doing here. You're supposed to be in Africa serving the Lord." But if Jesus raptured us, all problems would be solved!!! It didn't happen.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

A Twin Delivered

A few days ago, I asked our Bible school students to give their testimony. One was particularly interesting. His name is Kalala and he was raised in a village of another denomination. Kalala is a twin, and in his early twenties, he was chosen to perform ceremonies on twin babies, who, even in the 90s in Congo were frowned upon, though no longer murdered.

I asked him to describe the rites he was asked to carry out. One ritual was that each twin had to be wiped down with a white, chalky substance to invoke blessing from the ancestors (demonic spirits) and prevent illness and death. A minister from the only denomination allowed in that village told him he must die when he found out Kalala had been saved through one of our evangelism campaigns and was opening another church not of the other denomination. But he did not die. He was beaming with the joy of being delivered first through salvation and then through the freeing of God's Word. How exciting to be part of all this! It is exhilarating to the soul.