Monday, January 23, 2012

1/23 - Back in Congo for One More Day

After a couple of days in Zambia we are back in Lubumbashi for one more day.

We spent the past two days traveling south of Lubumbashi to the newly developed village of Wiski near the DRC/Zambia border and then into Zambia to visit a congregation and meet with the pastors in this area.
Pastor Yumba is working with the government to build the new village of Wiski. This village is being built in, what was formerly, just Africa bush country. Now that the war in Congo has come to an end and a government is now in place that is making great strides, the border territory between the DRC and Zambia has become a hot bed for commercial endeavors since south-east DRC receives much of its goods from Zambia. The government recognizes the need for more housing in this area and has designated a portion of the government owned land for a new village. When I was here two years ago we visited the area by walking a mile, or so, on a foot path through the bush until we found the plot if land that had been designated for the school. This plot of land was marked out by small flags tied to bushes and palmetto trees. Pastor Yumba has been appointed/hired as the chief of this new village and has the duty of seeing to the details of building a school. The foot path has now been replaced with a road that was clearly being used by heavy equipment and trucks. The bush was now cleared into clearly identified plots for building homes and business. Not many houses have been built yet but there are a few and more will come as the government makes low-interest loans to families. The school building is well under way with the walls erected for three classrooms and the roof on one classroom that we were able to use for a combined worship service with members from the Lubumbashi (who traveled 2 hours one-way for the service), Kasumbalesa, and Wiski congregations. They used this service to dedicate the new school building. There was much singing and I was blessed with the privilege of preaching the sermon. About mid-way through the service three men showed up from Kitwe, Zambia which is about two hours south of the DRC/Zambia border. They are part of the group of eight pastors and evangelists that Pastor Yumba has been working with. They drove a car to the border to give us a ride to Kitwe on Sunday afternoon. It is about two hours from the border to Kitwe.

We arrive at the Kitwe congregation much later than anticipated. This congregation is outside of Kitwe off the main road. We met briefly with the congregation and gave them some words of encouragement from the Scriptures. Since it was so late in the day we were unable to meet with pastors from the area who had gathered there in anticipation of our coming. Today (Monday 1/23) was supposed to be spent visiting a couple of congregations in the morning and then the three hour trip back to Lubumbashi. Instead we arranged an impromptu pastoral training seminar at the guest hostel where we stayed. We discussed the benefit of spending some time with these pastors verses visiting the congregations and determined that our time was better spent training several pastors who could then take what they learned and apply it to the ministry entrusted to them. The meeting with the pastors was only a few hours long but definitely worthwhile. We were able to set up an ongoing, monthly, training schedule that will allow Pastor Yumba to come to Kitwe monthly for ongoing training in the Word. All of these men appear to dedicated servants of the Lord. None of the men/pastors have any formal Theological training and it is quite evident to us and to themselves that they are limited in their understanding of God’s word. They made it quite clear that their desire is to be trained for the Gospel ministry that has been entrusted to them. Praise the Lord for the opportunity to meet these men and establish a plan to give them the training that they desire and require for the work which they are doing in God’s kingdom.  What a privilege to be involved in this work. I look forward to hearing and perhaps seeing one day the blessing that the Lord brings to the eight congregations that these men serve as they continue to grow in their faith and understanding of the Scriptures.

After the pastoral training we gathered for a few pictures and then jumped in the car to make our way back to Lubumbashi for the pastoral conference with the pastors of the Eglise Lutherienne de Confessionale Au Congo (ELCC) and the pastors of the Congregation Confessional Lutherienne Au Congo (CCLC). If you haven’t figured it out already, the prominent language in the DRC is French. The common language is Congolese Swahili. Suffice it to say that we work with translators. The pastoral conference will be held tomorrow with time to meet with the joint translating committee in the late afternoon. On Wednesday we will travel to Zambia again where we will meet up with two of the pastors from the area who we worked with yesterday and today. They will travel with us to Lusaka, Zambia (about 6 hours south) where we will be meeting with Pastor Ibrahim who was originally trained in our seminary in Tanzania before he heeded the call of his friend to come to Zambia to establish a conservative Lutheran church.

For now, I am tired and stiff from all the travel and sitting at pastoral conferences. After a very nice, hot, and relaxing shower, I am ready for bed.

I talked with Beth and kids yesterday and they are doing well. Please keep them in your prayers as well as the work here and Faith congregation.

In Christ,

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