Before our recent trip in East Kasai, we asked many people to pray for God’s provision and protection over the journey. It felt like there were a lot of things that could easily go wrong and make the journey a miserable experience. While there were several things that did NOT happen “according to plan”, and we did not make it to all of the anticipated destinations, we definitely saw God’s hand in the orchestration of events on our journey. We are grateful to all of you who prayed with us for this trip and for God’s work in Kasai. Here are a few of the notable things we are grateful to God for:
1. Safe travel. We traveled more than 1000 km on this trip, and did not have to pull out the shovel even once. That might be a record!
2. All of us were healthy, overall. We discovered that after traveling very long days on Congo’s roller-coaster like roads, Bob experiences some motion-sickness. Fortunately, that happened in places and at times when he could take a day to rest and recover.
3. We were traveling with Tatu Shambuyi, a driver who is also a good mechanic. He was able to make needed repairs to the Land Cruiser when we were in cities where parts could be found. (and twice the repairs needed on the Land Cruiser provided the opportunity for a ‘rest and recover’ day that we needed!)
4. One of our prayer requests was for reconciliation in this region that has experienced painful division within the church. We attended a presbytery meeting in Kaniema, and a delegation came from one of the defected churches to greet us and show their desire for unity. While there is still a lot of division and animosity, we feel like this visit provided significant encouragement to the churches in the area and helped promote unity. (we wrote more about the need for unity in our April newsletter)
5. We were traveling with Pastor Tshibemba, the Legal Representative for East Kasai. This was the first time since he was elected Legal Representative in 2004 that he has reached the city of Kaniema, and they were VERY excited by his presence. We were grateful that this trip provided an opportunity to help facilitate some of his work of promoting reconciliation within the church, and also was a significant sign of support and encouragement for this distant region. We are also grateful for good relationships and communication within the team we were traveling with – partly facilitated by the clear leadership and authority of Pastor Tshibemba.
6. The church members in Kaniema waited for us for 3 days! There was a presbytery meeting being held in Kaniema and they wanted all the churches gathered for the meeting to be able to be there to receive our delegation. We were delayed in Muena Ditu because of car problems, so arrived later than projected. But, they waited faithfully and rejoiced with us at our arrival.
7. The rain held off – until the very last day. This had been a key prayer request, since we were traveling on the cusp of the rainy season, and the road is impassable once the rains start. We drove through the rain on the final day, and could see how thick the mud gets after a few days of rain. We were not able to make it to Kanyintshina, our final destination, because of the rain, but we realized that worked out for the best for many other reasons.
8. And, one other highlight, was that we had books of the church to sell (youth ministry, book of order, children’s stories, etc.), and pamphlets to give away. People in this region do not have access to these books, or to much reading material, so they were very grateful for these resources!
“May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you a spirit of unity among yourselves as you follow Christ Jesus, so that with one heart and mouth you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.” –Romans 15:5-6