Life as a Missionary continues to expose me to the unexpected. I’m writing this today on my 59th birthday from Kinshasa, DRC. I could not have expected to ever receive such blessings. I am blessed to receive such hospitality, kindness and be able to serve God’s people in a country that struggles with life,security,and basic humanitarian needs. On this birthday I praise God for providing me with this opportunity to be His hands and feet.
I was blessed last Thurs. when Pastor Romain took us to the farm. In my last post Mary and I went to the school… well, we finally got to the farm. It took about 2 hrs to drive the 50 miles out of town and waaaay in the country. I was expecting a little garden but we found a 10 hector (24 acre) farm.
This is the farm/school that Gay Street UMC, Mt. Vernon,Ohio is supporting though their Seeds for School project. The farm grows both corn and cassava, along with other crops to bring back to the city and earn money for the school cost. You will remember that the Missionare Evangelique school is completely supported by the church congregation to provide education for some of the poorest children in Kinshasa. These kids would not be in school if it wasn’t for this church and their support of the neighborhood.
On Friday our blessings completely changed when Rev. Milenge asked us to attend lunch with two visitors from Minneapolis. Dr. Jim Olsen, the President of the Pilgrim Center,and Dr. Justin Byakwell are in Kinshasa to conduct “Spiritual Training for church leaders” We talked the entire lunch, in English and Rev.Milenge didn’t get a chance to speak but he seemed OK with that.
We went immediately following lunch to downtown to a funeral. I was not expecting to be attending a funeral. This happens sometimes with my lack of language skills. The Bishop said “something’ about a funeral but I missed the details. so that is where we ended up. I would just shake my head and say; to myself, OHHHH that is what he said about a funeral!!!
This was not just a normal funeral. This man was a Priest who was very active in the community and very active on the Election Committee along with interfaith programs.Who’s who of Kinshasa was there. Several Catholic Bishops, many Potestant leaders, the leading Imam and many politicals.
As we arrived near the CENI (Goverment Election building) there was a crowd of hundreds outside the building and just as many inside, where the funeral was taking place. A credential and invitation were required for attendance. Bishop Milenge took us though all of the police, solders and crowd directly into the service.
I don’t think I had ever attended a funeral for a public figure. There were at least 20 photographers and video cameras from news stations and papers and many speeches by dignitaries and politicians. What a blessing to see tribute paid to a great man of peace. It is clear that he will be missed and the Congolese have lost a great man.
Then on Sunday Mary and I attended a small church in a neighborhood called Victory. Pastor Sylvain and the “Evangile sans Frontiere” also operates the Mico-finance program that we wrote about a couple of months ago. This church is small on the outside but was packed with 200 people. This is another congregation that is very involved in their community with helpful programs.
What an powerful service. Most of it was in Lingala, some French and the children sang a song in Kongo. Guy did a great job of interpreting for us. The music program is amazing, men’s choir, ladies’ choir, youth, children, and a praise band. The preacher for the day was a Congolese Missionary from Milan,Italy.
So on my 59th birthday I feel blessed.