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.