Jesus told his disciples, “In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world” (John 16: 33).
A loud “pop,” causing our vehicle to limp to a standstill, signaled all was lost. It was our third flat within the span of the first 38km of our trip to Mutoto. We had already borrowed a spare from the lead car, and our spare which just blew already had issues. We were simply hoping we could make it far enough where we might find someone with a pump who could help us. I had had confidence that we would make it to Mututo this day, but now all seemed in question.
Without delay, our friend and colleague Pastor Mbikayi admonished Kristi and I to join the International Rescue Committtee (IRC) vehicle which had been guiding us. Taking the reigns of leadership, Mbikayi told us to go on ahead and call for help when we reached Mutoto. He and Pastor Manyayi would remain with the vehicle in this small village of Luanyanya until help would come the following day. Kristi and I jumped into the front seat and five of the youth from the Kananga youth choir squeezed into the small space remaining in the rear. And off we went!
Our troubles, however, did not abate. The road, if you want to call it a road, became worse and worse. Finally, we found our rear right tire lodged deep in a 3-5 ft. foot hole. After an hour and a half of tireless digging, together pushing the Land Cruiser out of the hole with all our strength, wedging small branches we had cut under the tire, and pushing with all our force, we were free. And off we went!
Pushing the vehicle out of the hole
Another 10 kilometers down the ‘path called a road’,another major obstacle presented itself, almost mocking us and our goal of reaching Mutoto. A large tree hung silently across the road, horizontally suspended about five feet in the air. According to local villagers, it had just fallen. There was simply no way to pass.
What to do now? (tree in the road)
Without delay, the driver and several youth split up and went in each direction, looking for an axe. Twenty minutes later the group that had gone ahead came back with a small axe. Ten minutes later the other party returned with a second axe. With a youthful display of vigor and strength, the driver and youth took turns hacking our silent foe. Fifteen minutes later the youth were pushing the fallen tree out of the ‘path called a road’, and off we went!
Night fell. We hadn’t reached our destination. We were still 3-5 kilometers from our prize. The unforgiving ‘path called a road' had one last taunting barb to send us. We tried plowing through a spot of loose earth and mud. Our efforts and the strength of the vehicle were not enough. We found ourselves high-centered on a mountain of earth. Quickly we disembarked with our flashlights and began digging. The resilience and buoyant spirit of the youth energized us. After twenty minutes of hard work and calculating how to dislodge ourselves, we pulled free, and off we went!
Around 8pm we arrived at Mutoto. A trip which we expected to take 2-3 hours took 6 hours, and not all of us had arrived. The remaining youth walked 27 kilometers and many arrived the same time we did. We gave thanks and praise to God for seeing us through. Upon arrival I called for help, and our colleagues and friends arrived the following day. Sunday worship was amazing! On the mountain top of Mutoto we recognized afresh that though troubles will inevitably come our way, Christ has overcome the world. Thus we can take heart, and press on. And off we went!