02/11/2012: On the Front Lines in Congo, Part 2
[What happened last week: Elisha Vande Voort, manager of a certified organic farm in Iowa for ten years, followed God’s call to leave the plow behind and join Congo Frontline Missions to labor in God’s mission field and has found the greatest joy in his life in serving needy humanity.]
I will never forget the evening Nathan Rittenour and I started pumping water from the well we drilled at Village 52. There were hundreds of people who came for hours to fill any thing they had with pure, clean water. They came with buckets, jugs, potspans, cups, tubs—anything that would hold water.
Many just wanted to put their hands in it to feel it. It was an amazing thing to see and to be a part of! I will never forget one old woman who with tears of joy and gratitude running down her face kept saying over and over again, “Asante mazongoo, asante mazongoo!” (Thank you, white man!) I have had very many people who, after we have built their church, give me hugs, shake my hand, want their picture taken with me and give me gifts of mangos, papayas, cassava and so much more. I often feel really guilty for taking food from these poor people, but they get very offended if it is refused.
And then there are all of the kids. I am realizing more and more each day why Jesus loved the little children so much. It is a great experience to go back to some of the churches I have helped to build a month or so later and immediately after stepping out of the Land Cruiser being surrounded by dozens of happy, excited children who remember us because we played jump rope or soccer with them or gave them a toy airplane or a button string. I tell you, one cannot out-give God! My cup is often full and running over!
Another time I will never forget (there are so many), is when I was loading the truck to leave at one church site where we had just completed a new one-day church for the members in a small village. A black Congolese man who I had never seen before approached me. He looked like a very poor, hard-working man who was around 40 and was wearing dirty, tattered clothes, but in absolutely perfect English he said, “I have something to tell you.” I have not heard English spoken that well anywhere in Congo except by a few Americans who are at the mission. He said, “Thank you so much for all you have done, for bringing and building a church here today. We are very poor and have nothing to give you. You are doing a very dangerous work; it is
dangerous for us here as well, but we will pray for you and for the work that you are doing in Congo. I will probably never again see you on this earth, but soon I will meet you in heaven. Thank you so much for all you and Congo
Frontline Missions are doing.” There were tears in his eyes, and I so badly wanted to talk more with him, but we needed to leave so we could get through the barricade near Kisangani before the police left for the night; otherwise we would have to sit and wait there until the next morning. I shook his hand with both of mine and told him he was so very, very welcome for everything and that I only wished I could do so much more and assured him that I also would one day be reunited with him in heaven. I had to turn away because the tears were coming to my eyes, and I never saw him again.
What he said to me was worth more than if he had handed me a check for ten thousand dollars. I looked for him in the crowd as we left, but he was not there. When we drove away, as often happens, many of the people from the village were waving goodbye to us and continued waving until we were out of sight. When I thought more about that man later, I wondered if he just might have been an angel. He spoke such beautiful English, and I will never forget that voice! I am really not sure if he was an angel or not, but someday I am going to find out.
As I drove the truck back to the mission that night, I remember thinking as I often have done many times, what an awesome privilege it is to be working hand-in-hand with the greatest Boss in the universe! It is true that living here is not always so easy, picking out bugs that are in our food, drinking awful-tasting treated water, sweating all day everyday and most nights, seeing kids that are so sick they probably do not have a chance of surviving, wondering if we are going to get malaria from that mosquito that just bit one of us (many of us have), watching out for and killing many poisonous snakes, huge spiders and scorpions, or having hundreds of people begging each time we go out. But when we see all that God is doing and get to witness some of the things like I shared here, it makes it all incredibly worthwhile! I have never been so happy and experienced so much joy in my life as I have here in Congo, by being able to help those who have almost nothing!
If you are feeling down in life or if your life is just a monotony of doing the same old things day after day and you are really just tired of it all, I would encourage and challenge you to go out and help people who have very little. I know it will give you a whole new perspective on life and will make you incredibly thankful for what you do have, and in giving, you will receive much more in return. There is nothing greater that will warm one’s heart and soul more than serving others! Please try it; you will not regret it. Yes, there will be difficult times, I assure you; but the rewards are truly out of this world. My mother always told us, “No pain, no gain!” And it is so true. You will not find real fulfillment and happiness in life unless you are willing to endure some difficult times along the way, and remember, no matter where you are, you have a mission field all around you. It may be in your home, at your school, on your street or in your community, at your job or in your church. There are many people that each one of us has contact with every day who need help and need to know about Jesus.
Please remember our church planters and the staff here at CFM in your prayers. Congo is not an easy place to live, travel or work! Many of us have become very sick with serious illnesses. There are many people in this country that are heavily into witchcraft and can be very violent at times. Really pray for the church planters! I have been in many of their villages for a day and have seen and heard some of what they have to hear and see! Satan hates our intrusion into his territory and is fighting back, but with God all things are possible; and with His power, strength and amazing protection the gospel is being proclaimed throughout the country of Congo, the Heart of Darkness.
Thank you so much for your prayers and support. We can often feel that many are uplifting us in prayer each day. May God richly bless you as you walk with Him along life’s path, is our prayer.
By Elisha Vande Voort. Website: www.congofrontlinemissions.org.