02/04/2012: On the Front Lines in Congo, Part 1
My name is Elisha Vande Voort, and as the newest member of the Congo Frontline Mission (CFM) team I am sharing with you some about myself and my experiences here.
I was born in 1981 and raised in a godly Christian home on a farm near New Sharon, Iowa. For the past ten years I have managed and operated a large 1,300 acre, certified organic farm for a certified public accountant who had his business in a town nearby.
For years God has kept calling to my heart to, like Elisha of old, leave the plow behind and to serve and follow Him.
I loved my job even though it was very demanding and stressful much of the time. Instead of my controlling it, it often controlled me. It took me years to recognize this and a few more years to do something about it. I had some really hard decisions to make; but friends, let me tell you, when you give up something for God and fully surrender every area of your life to Him, He will replace whatever you have given up with something far better.
I have had to take a big step of faith and go far out of my comfort zone and do many things I have never done before. I had never been outside of America or flown on a jet in my life, or spent weeks living in a tent in the middle of the jungle; but God has been with me every step of the way, giving me strength and wisdom, calming my fears and doing so much more for me. He and I have become really close friends, and I have found that there is no better Friend and Guide than the One Who cares so much for each one of us!
I have always wanted to do mission work for as long as I can remember, but I felt that I never had the time or the courage. I have known the Mosiers and Rittenours of CFM for several years and have been hearing about their work in Congo for some time. Two years ago, I was talking with Barry Mosier at a camp meeting in Minnesota, and he said to me, “Elisha, we could really use you in Congo; you should pray about going there sometime.” To make a long story really short, I did pray, and God opened the way, and I am here in Congo today. I have been here for five months now, and it has truly been the most incredible period of my life! I would like to thank each one of the few staff members here at Congo Frontline Missions for all of their sacrifice, for all they have done and for making it possible for me to have a small part in the work here.
Some of the things I have been able to do are put up more than 12 one-day churches so far, scattered all across central Congo; build an 80-foot radio tower in Kisangani and help install the radio antennas which will reach millions of people in the surrounding area; help to drill wells and fix several hand pumps that were no longer working in different villages. I have worked on bicycles, motorcycles, generators, vehicles and so many other things and have been able to pass out literature, help with evangelistic efforts and hand many Bibles to new believers who have never before held the Word of God. I have also witnessed many, many baptisms.
One man I met had been a powerful witch doctor all of his life, but one of our church planters won him to the Lord. I had the privilege of witnessing Pastor Mtenzi baptize that 91-year-old man who not long ago was one of the most feared men in his area and a powerful tool in Satan’s hands; but now, through the amazing grace of God and a dedicated church planter, he is a child of the King and a powerful witness for Christ!
Another man who we baptized in the river was a very mean soldier. He often drank, and every night that he was home he would beat his wife and was often a terror to his neighbors. He attended an effort that CFM conducted near his home, and he accepted Jesus as his Savior. The change in his life and behavior was so incredible that all of his neighbors wanted to know what happened to him. He told them about the little Adventist church where he had learned of his new-found faith. Many said, “If that church can change you, then we want to go there to.” And more than a dozen of his neighbors are attending each Sabbath and learning about the truth that sets men free.
I have traveled hundreds and hundreds of kilometers and been through more villages than I can count all across central Congo, and I have seen many extremely poor, heavily laden, suffering people and children! Many of the things we see and the stories we hear in this war-torn county are heart wrenching, to say it mildly! Since coming to Congo, I have had a much greater realization of how unbelievably blessed I truly am! I am also so thankful to my Heavenly Father for all His protection and leading in my life and for all the many incredible experiences He has allowed me to have here and for the privilege of working with the Godly, dedicated staff and workers at CFM!
I have been many places far from the mission and have spent many nights in a tent out in the jungle and at times have been the only white person in the group. We have crossed huge rivers in dugout canoes with big loads and no life jackets. (God is the best life preserver you will ever have!) We have been chased out of more than one village by very angry people who would have done us very serious harm if God had not intervened in our behalf and protected us. Even though it can be a bit dangerous and a little too exciting at times, I have had some of the best moments of my life here!
To be continued….
By Elisha Vande Voort. Website: www.congofrontlinemissions.org.