Sometimes, I feel like being a missionary is a lesson in humility. We struggle to communicate, or to make sense in other cultures. We don’t seem to know how to accomplish the most basic tasks in our new environments. Essentially, we fail from time to time. Luckily, the Lord’s grace allows us to continue. This is one of those stories.
In April of 2015, I bought a used Toyota Land Cruiser. The lack of infrastructure in the DRC can make traveling into the interior quite a challenge. The Land Cruiser is a no nonsense, off-road machine and was supposed to open up areas for church planting that were previously closed. And it did. This truck took us to places that I never thought we’d be able to go. Or, at least it did for a time. Used cars can be hit or miss here in Congo, and this one soon became a miss. I was constantly pouring money into it and so we reluctantly decided to sell it. After meeting a guy who said his boss was looking to buy our Cruiser, he asked to keep the car for the night and show it to his boss in the morning. I know what you’re thinking. It’s like watching a scary movie, and you’re shouting at the TV, “Don’t give him the keys! What are you thinking?”
Ok, but in my defense, I went into his office, met his coworkers and we have a mutual friend whom I trust. He promised me that his boss would buy it the next day at a premium rate if I were to give him the car for the evening so that he could check it over. I agreed. From that moment on, my contact became difficult to reach. To make a long story short, four months later I discovered that my car was four hours away at a garage. I took a bus a few days later to go investigate. After finding it and convincing the garage owner that the vehicle belonged to me, it would be another month before it could leave the shop. The person whom I had left the car with had a small accident, sold pieces of the car, and driven it hard for a long distance.
So, when I got the call Friday evening that the car was ready, I wasted no time. Saturday morning I woke up before the sun and headed off toward my Cruiser. It seemed a bit strange but mostly ok to make the trip, except for the tires. On Saturday afternoon, stores close early and the garage didn’t have any idea where I could purchase new ones. They started patching the ones that I had and assured me that I would make it home. After my third flat tire at 9:30 pm, it was clear that the truck was going no further. It was hard enough changing the first two with no jack and there was nowhere to get it fixed anyway. I left the truck on the side of the road and walked for 30 minutes before someone stopped to take me the rest of the way into town.
Luckily, we were only about a 45-minute drive from the house. In the morning we were able to take half a day and get the tires fixed so that we could bring the truck back to the house. It had been five months since I had left the car with a guy for the evening. What a difference one bad choice makes. And yes, it is embarrassing. I only share it with you for the purpose of sharing about God’s grace. We have prayed for this vehicle a number of times, and I truly believe that the only reason we have laid eyes on it again is because the Lord was with us. If anything, this experience has been a reminder that we are human; that we make mistakes; that we fail. Thank you Lord for keeping me from becoming too proud! And thank you Lord for the constant reminders of your provision and your loving care.