Twelve days ago we hit the road! After weeks of visiting our mechanic and getting “Tshikunda” (our Department’s trusty Land Cruiser) back up to speed, she was put back to good use: plowing through sand, sloshing in mud, jostling up steep inclines and sliding nimbly down declines. After 2.5 hours, we achieved our prize - Mutoto, a historic Presbyterian mission station.
We were visiting the old Mutoto Mission Station for our second time. It is home to one of three pastoral institutes which our Department of Evangelism and Christian Education oversees. We went for the expressed purpose of learning more about their vocational training school. The leaders of this institute recognize that when their students graduate they will be greeted by a very difficult life serving in rural/village parishes where they may only receive $1 a month for their service in the parish.
Thus, they need supplemental skills to help them make a livelihood so that they can feed their families and send their children to school. Right now they have a student who is a carpenter. He is teaching fellow students this trade. One of the professors and one of the students are trained tailors. They in turn are teaching the wives of students, children of students, and a few of the male students to sew. Moreover, the Director of the Institute, Pastor Tshiaba, has experience raising pigs. He hopes to start an animal husbandry program to help students receive and raise pigs while they are in school. When they finish school, perhaps they can leave with 3-4 pigs in tow. The school also has a palm plantation that will eventually bring income to help the school with operational expenses.
Our Department is currently in a position whereby we can assist this institute with its vocational training school. Within the next few months, we will help them purchase new woodworking tools, sewing machines, and perhaps a few pigs! The Mutoto Pastoral Institute is also in desperate need of a new building for its vocational training classes, as well as new classrooms for theological study.
God willing, new structures and buildings will come in time. We are excited about the initiative taken by the leadership of this particular institute, and we hope that their vocational training program can be a “pilot program” as we seek to strengthen and empower all three schools, helping to provide additional skills to students and their spouses that will make life more manageable as they live in rural Congo.
A long term dream is that the graduating students will become dedicated pastors serving in villages where they and their spouses can be agents of holistic community transformation. Kristi and I are passionate about this focus of ministry in Congo. Please pray with us about this vision and dream! With God, all things are possible.