Wednesday, October 24, 2018

This Is Brazzaville

The Congo River
Driving through the city of Brazzaville, one will see a number of interesting things. Palm trees, swaying in their tropical setting. Sand blowing across the road or stuck to shoes making their daily commute. Fishermen out in their canoes along the Congo River, throwing down their nets for their daily catch. Young men gathered at highly trafficked corners, selling tissues to wipe beads of sweat from one’s brow or newspapers in French, containing the most current events. Encircling the nearest gas station receiving petrol, there are green taxis lined up in disorganized rows. Tables piled high with fruit and vegetables or freshly butchered meat are seen for sale, blue jumpsuit wearing street cleaners are working hard to make the city look its best, and khaki colored school uniforms worn head to toe by children and youth making their way to school. Cleaned laundry hung out to dry in the bright sun. Embassies, representing many countries from around the world, scattered across the city with their cement block buildings, surrounded by gates with barbed wire. A grand wall hides the Presidential Residence. Young adults in red aprons, piled in truck beds, shouting from megaphones, advertising a local cell phone company. Smiles and handshakes, even a wave from a car, as friends reunite and pass by one another. Sirens blaring, lights flashing and people piled in cars, following a procession for a loved one who has died. Traffic police, hiding in the shade of trees, taking turns directing cars or stopping them to check their documents. True to its name, The Green City, you’ll see shades of green through plants, trees and local crops everywhere you look. But even beyond these sites, you’ll see beautiful people. Congolese men, women, youth and children walking, riding motorcycles, driving cars, sitting in front of shops, all waiting for what the day holds. This is Brazzaville, Republic of the Congo. 
Local shops
Street Cleaner working hard to keep the city looking its best
Central African Franc (local currency)
Teenage boys sporting the local uniform, on their way to school
Hibiscus flower - used to make a
delicious local juice

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Handing Off the Baton - DR Congo West

This past week, Gavin had the privilege to assist with the handing off of the baton on the DR Congo West District. Rev. Hermenelgilde Matungulu stepped down from his position as District Superintendent (DS) after 15 years of leading the Church in this area of DR Congo. His leadership was a gifted one. He raised up leaders, started new churches and is a great example of a life of service to the Lord and the Church. During this 20thDistrict Assembly, Rev. Matungulu handed off his DS baton to the newly elected Rev. Dieu Merci Nzola. 

Honoring Rev. Matungulu for his service 
Rev. Matungulu praying over Rev. Nzola and his wife
To Rev. Matungulu, we honor you for your years of service to God and the Church. We pray God’s richest blessings upon you as you continue to follow Him and serve Him. May you continue to share your testimony and lead others into a right relationship with Christ. 

To Rev. Nzola, we congratulate you. May the Lord grant you wisdom, vision and strength as you lead God’s people in DR Congo West District. May the Lord’s face shine upon you as you shepherd multiple pastors, evangelize and take on new responsibilities within the Church. 

To the DR Congo West District, we implore you. As dearly loved brothers and sisters in Christ, may you know the love of Christ and be ready for the future ahead. Be supportive. Do Right. Go and make disciples in the Nations. 

In a country where political elections have almost always turned bloody and where current presidential elections are more than two years past-due, there is always the possibility that hostility can creep into the church.  We are so grateful for the amazing example given by the West Congo District and are hopeful that other districts will follow suit when it comes to leadership transition and empowering the next generation.  

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

District Centers Becoming Reality

Since arriving in Central Africa, it was clear our districts could benefit from ministry centers. With our eight districts spread across vast distances and no real roads to connect them, we realized that our strategy would have to be a center in every district as opposed to one for the field that everyone came to.  The vision was for these centers to be used for a large meeting space, teaching pastors, gathering together for combined church services (Such as district assembly) and an all-purpose building. There would also be an added bonus of a local church congregation that would be a part of the community where the building was to be located. With eight districts on our Field, and only one with a center, we knew this was a big dream and one that would take prayer, time and partners to put together. 

Over the last 4 years, we’ve been able to purchase land for three district centers, making only two districts where no land or building currently exists.  We’ve also started construction on five centers through alabaster funds, Work and Witness teams, partners and local district fundraising.  These dreams are slowly becoming a reality. 

In August, the South Katanga District in DR Congo held their first celebration service in their new center. Construction started in 2015 with a W&W team from Lovington, NM and while construction is not complete, the building is at a point where it can be used. 
Photo by District Superintendent, Rev. Celestin Chishibanji. District Center DR Congo, South Katanga District
In September, the capitol city of DR Congo was able to use their new center for the first time. Thanks to partners from the United States, this building will be a great blessing to the DR Congo West District. 

Photo by Pastor Dieu Merci Nzola. District Center and Church DR Congo, West District
Photo by Pastor Dieu Merci Nzola. District Center and Church DR Congo, West District
We praise the Lord for all He is doing, for patience in seeing these dreams become reality and for the lives that will walk through these spaces and be changed. Glory be to God!