Friday, January 27, 2012

1/26 - Finished in the Congo

We arrived in Lusaka, Zambia on Wednesday evening after 12+ hours of travel in big buses, little buses, and a few taxis. We were met by Pastor Ibrahim, Evangelist Peter, and a few other friends. We were taken to the Kakwele lodge which is owned by a relative of Evangelist Peter. A very nice place (with wifi) with a very accommodating staff. The owner is giving us the room at a very reduced rate because he is trying to help his nephew with his work in God's Kingdom. Most of yesterday was spent running around Lusaka on public buses trying to make arrangements for our time here in Zambia. We also tried, in vain, to find a good mode of transportation to our next stop in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe. We were hoping to find a regional airline that would fly us there without spending lots of money. We were not able to find a flight for  under $500 so our plan now is to hire a car/driver to take us to Livingstone on the Zambia/Zimbabwe border on Saturday evening after our pastoral conference. We will spend the night in Livingstone and then find a bus to Bulawayo on Sunday morning. That should put us there by late afternoon on Sunday.

Yesterday I also had the privilege of leading an impromptu Bible study at the home of Evangelist Peter for his family and a few members of the congregation that meets in his home. We had around 12 in attendance.

Today (Friday) we will be going with Pastor Ibrahim and Evangelist Peter on their evangelism visits to area hospitals and the university. 
We finished our time in the Congo with a half day pastoral training seminar for pastors and evangelists of the ELCC and CCLC on Tuesday morning. Since one of the primary goals of this visit was to introduce Pastor Ude as the new visiting missionary to the DRC and to allow him to begin the important process of building a good working relationship with those he will be working with, it was decided earlier that my part in the seminar would be to simply introduce Matt to the men with the encouragement to embrace him as their new missionary and to reinforce with them that he is now their main line of communication with the Bd of Missions and then step out of the way. This turned out to be a very good thing since I came down with some sort of stomach virus or a touch of food poisoning during the night. Because I was up most of the night in the bathroom I was in no condition to do much more than speak for 10 minutes or so and then sit in the back and long for my bed back at the hotel.

Matt taught lessons on the proper interpretation of the Parables and methods for incorporating the parables into our preaching of God’s Law (to show us our sins) and His Gospel (to show us our Savior). He gave examples from the different types of parables that we find in the New Testament. The lessons were well received with many questions, comments, and a few examples from some of the more experienced pastors in the crowd.

After the seminar we returned to the hotel where Matt had some lunch and I took a nap. I was very thankful that we had a two hour break before our afternoon meetings with the translation committee with members from both the ELCC and CCLC. I felt much better after my nap and ready for the work that the Lord put before me.

Pastor Kintombe of the CCLC serves as the chairman of this committee and seems to be doing a good job of organizing the work. Back in 2010 (the last time Pastor Mayhew and I visited) this work of producing good teaching materials in the language of the people had come to a halt due the suspension of funding from CLC because of the troubles between the two groups. Once a peaceful and God pleasing resolution was accomplished we were able to help them print several copies of teaching booklets with funding sent about a year ago. It was good to see that they have been able to put their differences aside for the sake of the Kingdom work. Of course there are still some difficulties that every committee faces, they have found a way to work through them. We reminded each other of the things we discussed the last time I was there concerning the privilege that we have as fellow servants of our Savior who forgives us our many individual sins and thus motivates us through His patient and longsuffering love to forgive others as we have been forgiven. It was a good a meeting and I was blessed and encouraged to be a part of it.

We also met with leaders of each of the church bodies to discuss the work and the specific plans that they hope to pursue in the near future. There are so many needs and good ideas that they have for spreading the Gospel in the Congo. It seems that my standard response to so many project proposals goes like this: “that is a wonderful idea and a great way to spread the Gospel. We will pray to the Lord, who is our great provider, that He will provide the resources for you to pursue this plan.” In the Congo we heard again proposals for building schools. I have pictures from the last time I was here of one congregation of the ELCC where they have a rather disheveled school building where over 200 children are in attendance. All of the teachers are very under-paid and they lack the basic needs of any school such as chalk, note books, text books, etc. They gave us a proposal to build a new school building with an office for the teachers and a new latrine (outhouse). The cost for this building project is around $35,000. Amazing to think that an elementary school building project in the U.S. would cost in the millions and we would barely even bat and eye. The CCLC has also given a proposal to assist in building a school in the new village where they are working near the Zambia border. In addition to these two requests we also have requests from several other places around the world where the Lord has blessed us with the privilege of working in His Kingdom.

All of this is very humbling…to think that the Lord gives us (each of us) the privilege of freely giving the time, talent, and treasures that He has so graciously given to undeserving sinner like us so that others might also learn of the forgiveness, salvation, and eternal life that is ours through perfect life, sacrificial death, and glorious resurrection of our Savior Jesus Christ!

Oh sing unto the Lord, for He has done marvelous things! He has taken poor miserable sinners like us and given us such a glorious future with Him in Heaven…how can we not spread this message as far and as wide and wherever and whenever He opens the doors of opportunity! Thank You Lord for blessing us with the privilege of blessing others with Your love!

Thanks for reading and more so for your prayers!

In Christ,

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