01/23/2010: That My House May Be Filled (Part 1)
That My House May Be Filled
Part 1—Missionary Trip to Central Congo
January 23, 2010
Knowing we are in the last days and that the plan of salvation will soon be accomplished and every case decided for eternal life or death, we decided to go to the villages of Sankuru Province in the middle of the Democratic Republic of Congo, where nobody really cares for perishing souls. It was a unique privilege to be with the poorest of the poor. First, we want to thank God for His mercy toward us. Secondly, we wish to thank all of the faithful donors, who, through their means, encouraged the new converts to look higher and to persevere in the faith of Jesus.
Arriving at Lodja July 7, 2009, we were greeted by brethren from Dikanda, who had left their village earlier to meet Brother Joel Mapamu, the local missionary. After staying one night in Lodja, we departed for Dikanda, the first village to benefit from a simple church building in 2008/2009. This village became our base for missionary trips to other villages, ranging from 50 to 200 kilometers (30-125 miles) from Lodja, the capital of Sankuru. There we saw the church, in the middle of dirt and poverty, just as the Prince of Heaven found His house of worship among the underprivileged of this world.
There are many places deprived of the normal conditions of life, but these villages are really extremely poor. We taught them, giving them Bibles and other literature; we found mothers and children, naked and alone, but willing to worship the Most High. The work was without precedent, relating to the express command of God through the Spirit of Prophecy, “God has committed to our hands a most sacred work, and we need to meet together to receive instruction, that we may be fitted to perform this work.” Child Guidance, 76. Our objective was to bring the last warning of God to the people living in Sankuru and teach the people during special sessions and home visitation. We especially focused on the instruction of the young people that they maybe transformed by the Holy Spirit into fishers of men. This work is of the highest importance, and we saw the positive results.
The new church building is not very nice by Western standards; it is a simple structure made from dirt like the village huts. But was not our Lord born in Bethlehem, a muddy little village? The reason the Father chose this for His Son was very simple: born in poverty, He would be understood by the poor.
The work was not just a walk through the villages; we were confronted by the local traditional churches, but the Lord worked through heavenly agencies to save souls. When visiting the people’s homes, we focused on the two sacred institutions of Paradise, the Sabbath and the family. We stressed that the Sabbath was not a day to just stay at home, but to enjoy fellowship at church and Sabbath afternoons with the family in nature. We told the people not to entertain any business conversations or any other worldly subject during God’s sacred day.
The believers of these new congregations deeply enjoyed learning about the real meaning of the Sabbath and wanted to have the missionary stay with them two or three months to deepen their knowledge of God’s will. Unfortunately, Brother Mapamu had to depart for other villages where new groups awaited him.
When we entered a village, we would visit the chief before visiting the people. In every village the administration showed us a good piece of land as a donation and expressed their desire to have a Seventh-day Adventist church in their village, plus a school and a little bush clinic.
The situation of these poor people is sad; the other churches are doing literally nothing for the welfare of the people. If there is any primary school, the children have to walk five kilometers (three miles) through the equatorial forest with its dangers. Women give birth without medical care, and frequently the child or the mother dies. It is only the grace of God that helps our brethren there to survive, living with the forest, where they can harvest cassava leaves and plant millet and rice. Brother Mapamu entreated the people not to continue using meat as a regular dietary item while they can find various edible leaves in the forest. The villagers were taught the harmful effects of meat on the body and especially the mind; every unhealthy habit puts us at the risk of failing God in every temptation. The people were interested in the health message.
God worked mightily and many souls were won to God’s kingdom. The work was done in many places, but it was decided to begin with 15 villages, where we should secure a church building, a school and a health center. It sounds great and expensive, but it is not because simple structures are wonderful buildings to these poor people. The church buildings and schools would also become places of literary education for the general public. Despite the animosity of other religious bodies (some a mixture of spiritualism, native religion and Catholicism), the chiefs of the villages encouraged us to do something for their villages, providing land for construction. For the chiefs, only the Seventh-day Adventists are teaching the Bible truth and helping the people. Unfortunately, Brother Mapamu could not donate even a cent for the beginning of such projects. For this reason, the other religious groups manifested animosity against the believers, but God solved the problems.
Brother Mapamu has given us an update on the present spiritual health of the churches. The church in Dikanda is doing very well. It almost takes the lead in the region, even over Lodja. The young people of the Dikanda Church caught the fire of evangelism and have spread the Three Angels’ Messages into new territories, paving the way for Brother Mapamu to harvest souls for God’s kingdom. Although they have a church building, there is an urgent need for a school and clinic. The youth of the church have already cut trees for a school building. The brethren there only need sponsors for the roof. From a handful of members last year, the church now has 255 members and a baptismal class.
Another church group that benefited from a new church building this past summer is in the village of Yenga. This large village is 90 kilometers (60 miles) from Lodja, making it difficult to transport the tin for the roof. But with God nothing is impossible! Two hundred seventy-five new converts are assembling on the Sabbath and during the week.
The third church building was erected in the village of Lushima. Last year, four people were won to the Adventist faith; now a real evangelism explosion has occurred with baptismal classes. The results of the work of the Holy Spirit are 208 believers. With the last-minute help of Mission Projects International in September 2009, we bought tin sheets for the roof and the necessary lumber for the frame.
In all of the 15 villages, baptismal classes and home visitation have resulted in good decisions. There are currently a total of nearly 1900 members. One of the most active churches has over 300 members. These villages need churches, schools and clinics. One church worships under the trees. Think of the challenges of meeting during the rainy season!
Here is a brief overview of what we did during our one-month missionary tour: 30 churches visited, 140 missionary visits, 15 Bible seminars, plus numerous sermons, classes, baptismal candidate instruction, Bible studies, visits to families, literature distribution and ministration to the widows, sick and needy. These statistics are given to glorify God and give you an idea of the efforts put forth to save souls. As one man with terminal cancer put it: “It is not important what we are doing, but who we really are.”
To be continued next week. . . .