Sunday, June 10, 2012

Days in Congo - Missing Cash Last August when we left Nkara after 4 monthss to return to America, I had set aside $250 to give to Kiniaanga, who is in charge of our feeding program for the dorm students at Laban Bible Institute for the fall term. I tucked it away in my bedside table. The day came for our the departure, and we locked up our house and boarded the MAF plane on the airstrip near the mission. Then it hit me. The money was still tucked away. Nuts! The cash would have enabled him to get a little head start in purchasing supplies. It was only August, and the fall term didn't begin until October. Guess it will be there when we return next year, I thought. Return we did this April, and soon after arriving at Nkara, I opened the bedside table drawer to retrieve the money. It was no where to be found. So I searched my desk and chest of drawers. It was not to be found. I reassured myself that it had to be there, and that I was not suffering from dementia! So when it didn't show up anywhere in our bedroom, I asked the Lord to show me where in the world it could be. It was my firm belief that it was there. Cash just doesn't walk away, and there were no signs of forced entry into our upstairs bedroom. One day within that first week of our return, I sat in the big chair in the room to read, but a horrid odor was so strong in he vicinity of the chair I called Jim and told him I was sure there was a dead mouse underneath. We called Kinianga up and they lifted the big heavy chair only to find nothing but this year's acrue of sand and a few dead bugs. However, in lifting the chair, we all saw the hole in the flimsy covering on the bottom of the chgair. Kinianga reached his hand in to retrieve what he thought would be a dead mouse. Brave move on his part. . . Only to pull out a $100 bill!!! The money I left! The next time he pulled out the dead mouse. Ugh! Deciding we should thoroughly cleanse the chair, the men took it downstairs and outside in the sunshine. Before they applied soap and water and ironed it with the old coal iron we use to press our clothes, they kept searching for more money as I told them there was over $200 missing. To our amazement, the pulled out 3 more $50 bills! The money was found. Thank you Lord. Now, how do you suppose that money got from the table to the chair which was across the room on the opposite side of our bed???? It turns out that a family of little creatures resembling chipmunks made their home in our attic. I kept finding stripped palm nuts on the floors of our room and what used to be our boys' room when I began cleaning and realized they had left a trail, but I had no idea they took that money to use to make their nest. Money isn't like cotton or soft cloth. It isn't very pliable, so after leaving their marks on it and realizing it would not do, they left it in different parts of that chair. Incredible! Now I hate the smell of a dead anything, let alone a mouse. But if that terrible odor ad not come ffrom the chair on a day that I "happenned" to be sitting in it (of all the days we were gone) that money would in all likelihood never have been found. Your timing and ways continue to amaze me Lord!
Days in Congo Tonight is "Date Night at Ntshiangobo" The Congolese traditionally don't date. Usually, a man will see a particular woman in his village who is particular to his liking. If he exercises his good sense and has spiritual direction, he will inquire about her position in Christ and her character. She may be 10 or 15 years his junior, or she may be close in age. They promise themselvs to each other at the time. Then he asks her father if he can have her hand in marriage. In the time that lapses before the wedding date, he tries his best to fulfill the requirements as stated by his future father-in-law which may be as few as a case of coke, some sugar, and a pair of shoes for the father and maybe a blouse for the girl's mother to all of the above plus a goat, more clothes, such as a suit for the father of the bride, an outfit for the mother, pots and pans for the bride, dishes for the bride, and money on top of all of this for the bride's family. We call this a dowry. If the future bridegroom is employed, these items may be had in a relatively short period of time, say a year. If not, it may take several years to accumulate all the requested items. Sometimes the father of the bride will agree to partial payment in advance. In this case, the couple is permitted to marry before everything asked for is realized. In America, wives and husbands will pick out a night to go out to dinner and perhaps a movie, which is referred to as date night. That is not the case in the bush of Congo. Where would they go? Belatia's Bean Palace? Tonight (written on 5/30/12), at the village up the hill called Ntshiangobo (inch yian go bo) this is as close as it gets in our area to "date night." Pastor Kilasi, a graduate of LBI, also a professor at LBI, as well as our lab tech, has started a very good and rare program at his church. Two nights a month he calls married couples together to a conference on married lifel As pastor of this church, he is very interested in making couples aware of the importance of their marriage. The idea came to him last year after he and his wife with some other marrieds viewed the movie, "Fireproof" in our living room. The film sparked an incredible interest in the welfare of his own marriage and opened his mind to valuable insights into what consists of a good marriage and Who can deliver married couples who are in the pits. So, a few weeks ago he asked Jim and I if we would come to speak to his people at 4 p.m. and then follow that with the showing of "Fireproof". Quite frankly, I am so looking forward to the evening, praying that our words will be from God and that this movie will powerfully show its truth to this village way out in the bush, thousands of miles from the film's origin and heartfelt prayers that men and women would be impacted with power from this church in America that God is using to produce films with meaning, purity, and purpose.
Days in Congo - A Day of Prayer Landa na kulomba - Continue in prayer Today (written on 5/30/12) is a day of prayer at Nkara. We started at 9 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Pastor Kapem explained what prayer is: bringing everything before God, continuing in prayer, knowing whom you are approaching, believing that you will get what you are asking for--a strong faith that He has the ability to give whatever, that we need to pray and not give up, rather than faint. Perseverance in prayer. The importance of living in fellowship with God in order to see your prayers answered. God doesn't hear the prayers of the unsaved unless he is crying to be saved. If you come with doubts, it is like you are a man of two minds, like you are 2 people. If there is hatred in your heart for your brother, you cannot be in fellowship with the Father and He will not respond to your prayer. Good stuff. Then we proceeded in prayer. First, silent confession one by one of our sins. Then, Radio Glory because it just stopped working, and everyone misses it so. Some tears were shed. The lack of broadcastiing can be very discouraging and depressing in the villages who are without churches as well as those who have sluggish, or even almost dead churches. Prayers were offered up also for wisdom and clarity of expression in broadcasting because of the brevity of something being expressed and instantly being heard all over the Bandundu Region. We were all reminded of the seriousness and power of words. We then went to the property issues. Much prayer here. Evangelism as it was coming up in Masamanimba, a large town of of 30,000 to 50,000 people in an area of little Bible teaching or preaching. Money needed for fuel and food. Laban Bible Institute. More stringent admission requirements to keep "spies" out of the school and better screening techniques to prevent accepting people coming with wrong motives. Our library. Praying for funds for more books, such as commentaries, Scofield Bibles in French, and other needed resources to be available for our students and professors. Praise for allowing us to come across a new source in Kinshasa where books are sold at reasonable prices. Families of Laban Ministries in Congo. World wide economy. Congo is a rich country, but how does that help us nationals? We don't get any of it. Jim's and my health. Pastor Kapem remembered Jim's accident which occurred in 1989. He commented that our enemies celebrated by killing a goat, thinking we would never return. Praise for God's mercies and healing. Missionaries in general. Not many of them left in Congo these days. Vehicles. We need a newer truck on the mission. Graduation on June 23. Cannot get into our church building because the opposing party will cause an uproar, so we are praying for order and a good time at the Bible Institute, but that limits greatly our attendance options. Police. We have a ministry with the police in our area. Transformed lives from the threat they can be to the population and contrary living to what the Bible recommends. Our enemies. They are real. They have displayed evil behavior recently with violence and are causing havoc. We are commanded by God to pray for them. Hard to do. Women's Literacy School. Such a delight. Prayer for endurance for our women who are closing up their second year of training. One year to go. New roof needed for our home in Congo. Prayer for safety for the workers. Strength to wash, paint, and nail 300 pieces of aluminum at a pretty good height. People break up and go outside in groups under shade trees. Our hearts are encouraged as we on a united front have poured out our hearts at the foot of the Throne of God. Our Father is always at work. Our prayers go right into His ears. Amen.
Days in Congo The Grace & Blessing of God - Nothing more, nothing less We live in the bush of Congo, Africa. If you think times are hard in America, come spend a week with us. We'll give you a run for your money! From the cost of food to education (there is no free public education from kindergarten through 12th grade) to rediculously low wages to exams in high school costing twice as much for one exam than the family makes in a month to the disparity in advanced medical treatment to the infant mortality rate and one and on. . . Congo is now considered the poorest nation in the world. Our ministry here is multifaceted, a very small facet of which is a lab and dispensary. Recently we sent our head nurse and lab tech to Kinshasa to get meds and some new lab equipment and solutions. We now boast a method of testing sugar levels in the blood and urine. After our lab tech announced on Radio Glory that a fresh supply of meds was now available as well as the ability to detectt diabetes, new and more patients started frequenting our dispensary and lab. Mind you, we have no doctor here working with us, only 2 nurses,one of whom is an excellent midwife, plus Pastor Kilaasi, our lab tech, a graduate of LBI, and pastor of a local church down the road. So, what I am about to tell you is a declaration of the blessing of God on 3 people who love the Lord, not to mention those who come seeking help. Two women showed up one day with their husbands. They had already received treatment at two other locations, one of which always has doctors on campus. Both women were from the local village of Nkara, about 3 miles from our mission. They expressed great disappointment and anguish over not being able to bear children. In Congo, as in ancient Israel and other cultures, there is great reproach and shame if a woman cannot conceive and birth babies. Sadly, many times the wife is held responsible for this great calamity. The women were both examined and given blood tests, after which Kilasi prevented the results to Marvina, our head nurse and her assistant, Elise. Both women are godly, transparent, and honorable. After receiving the test results, Marvina and Elise collaborated and prescribed medication for the women. Shortly thereafter, after years of waking up to disappointment and "failure" at conceiving, spending money on exams and tests, the women returned to Marvina, Elise, and Kilasi with shining, smiling faces, to tell them of the great news that they now want to undergo prenatal treatment! They now each have a baby of their own and no longer suffer reproach. Joy unspeakable!!! Another couple came as well from a nearby village when they heard the great news. Marital problems and the stress of the inability to conceive were causing thoughts of divorce. Once again, the anxious wanna-be mom was tested and given a consultation from our nurses and Kilasi. She is now a MOTHER! All 3 women exclaimed to Marvina, "Glory to God! How can we repay you?, to which Marvina replied, "You don't owe us anything. Just give God the glory!" How is it that in the middle of nowhere--the bush of Congo, Africa--3 people were able to give hope and be a part of a wonderful miracle of life? There is no other answer except His Hand of blessing and grace. Thank you Jesus!
Days in Congo - A Day of Tears We are now in the DRC (Democratic Republic of Congo), and sadly, because we live in the bush, no internet is available when I go back in a few days. But until then I am in Kinshasa with internet, at least much of the time. So I will attempt to post a series called "Days in Congo." For a year now, we have been involved in a court case with a denomination of the national "church" here in Congo, who forged papers in 1997, claiming the mission we have served on since l978 and formerly where Dr. Laban and Marcella Smith served from 1947 until his death in 1953 and then to which Marcella returned until 1978, is really theirs. All of our papers and documents regarding ownership are in order. Two lower tribunal audiences and one higher tribunal court attended by 3 judges have all ruled in our favor. Still no actions have been taken to formally recognize true ownership. Rumors are now circulating that some of the higher ups are being bribed to drag things out with gifts of cattle, goats, and money from our opposing side. Since the judges are late getting their stipend from the government, these "gifts" can be very welcome and enticing. Nkara is a beautiful valley surrounded by a horseshoe-shaped hill complete with a 7 acre lake, a church which seats 4,000 people, which we do not enter anymore, a state ssupported grade school, middle school, and high school run by this "church" group, Laban Bible Institute, and East Hill crowned with Radio glory. Three homes are present on the site near ours: a guest house we call the White House, Pastor Kapem's house, and the home of the national "school inspector." Just down a way from the Bible institute is our men's dorm, a mill that grinds manioc (the daily staple of manioc root) into flour, a small mud hut which ordinarily posed as a girls' dorm, and many cement block homes built by Laban Ministries for staff personnel, a new mud/brick dining hall being built for our students, plus the homes of teachers of the state-operated schools on the property. Once a center for ceremonial cannibalsim and child sacrifice, Nkara has always been controversial ground. In the late 1930's or possibly early 1940's, its true origin was disputed by the same and only village of Mpene that refused to welcome Laban and Marcella here in 1947. Years before they came here to preach the Gospel to the Bayangi tribe, 70 men from this same village committed suicide in the lake at the bottom of the hill in front of our home because the two original villages who originally owned this land threatened to defend their position. And, rather than fight these two villages, the men walked into the lake knowing they could not swim and died. In their eyes, these deaths secured ownership of Nkara-Ewa. It was a sacrifice they considered equivalent to possessing the land. So mistaken. Just days ago, a staff member by the name of Mupiya said, "The day before Dr. Smith died he stood and said, 'Nkara has been and always will be a place of jealousy. There will be many people who will want to take over.'" This has certainly proven true. Other groups have wanted this land as well, but so far God has enabled it to stay in the hands of the Smith family. What a stark contrastt Nkara is today compared to those days of darkness entrenched in demonism and witchcraft, resulting in child sacrifice and youbg men of royalty being offered up as an atonement for the sins of the people living in this area. Some 65 years after Dr. and Mrs. Smith opened the Word of God to te Bayangi Tribe, Laban Bible Institute has graduated hundreds of men who are now pastoring churches all over the Bandundu Province. On the same land, the denomination who has tried to steal the land out from under us is operating the state-funded school, supplying teachers who have a wife here and one in Kikwit, charging illegal taxes to anyone who grows gardens on the land, and have made an adulterer the chief of the district of churches in this locale that bear their denominational name. The Lord only knows what other evils are lurking. . . So, after a year of running back and forth to the town of Bulungu (45 miles from here), empty promises to settle the case and evict the thieves as well as all of their cohorts, many of whom are from this hateful village of Mpene, of having their side not show up for court dates, and telling our staff repeatedly that they are losers, that their jobs are ove, and that we are never coming back, long drawn-out repetivie presentations of our documents and no presentations of their "documents", our staff is fed up with the opposing party and concerned about our welfare. Every week day morning we meet with the staff to spend time studying God's Word together, to pray, and to discuss work projects, the day's work load, and upcomiing events, etc. Discussions ensued one day about the next court date, and some rumors going wild. As I was walking back to our home, Pastor Richard joined me. He is a graduate of LBI, a long-standing staff member, chief of the locaL district of pastors in the Iwungu area, where Jim's parents lived before coming to Nkara. Soft-spoken with a gentle demeanor, he said, "Madame, I see what is going on and today in chapel I was so distrubed by the way things are being handled that tears came out of my eyes for you and Mr. Jim." At his words,I myself was moved to tears, and we walked together a ways softly sobbing.