Lying on my desk is a paper weight that was a gift from the Bible Baptist Church of Fairbanks, Alaska. Written on the paper weight is the question, “Is somebody somewhere waiting for you?” There are times when the burden of the ministry weighs heavily upon me, discouragement and doubt come; moments when I am missing my friends, family and children. There are times when I ask myself the question, “Does all of this effort, really make a difference?” During those times my gaze will often fall upon that paper weight, and I am reminded and encouraged to remember that there is a reason God has called us here.
As a believer there are moments in life where you realize, without a doubt, that this is a “God” moment. Things happen that you know are happening not because of you, but because of God. On my recently concluded trip to DR Congo, I had one of those moments that will be with me until the day I die.
Pastor Oloo, Pastor Kambi, Pastor Musonga, and I got on a boat at the port in Uvira on Wednesday morning to begin our journey to the village of Kazimia. I had prepared myself for a hard trip but, if I would have known in advance how difficult the trip would be I WOULD NOT HAVE GONE.
|The boat before it got crowded!|
There were nearly 300 people packed on a boat that, under normal circumstances would hold only 50 people. For two days and two nights we traveled on a boat that had NO TOILET, no food, no covering, and no room to sit. There was barely room to rest in a squatting position, when your legs cramped you could stand. (Then your room to squat disappeared among the mass of people and you had to fight to get it back.) I have never been in such discomfort and pain in my life.
|The boat after it got crowded|
When we finally arrived in Kazimia on Friday morning my only thoughts were, “NEVER AGAIN”! I could not imagine anything worth going through that torture again. We were met at the port by the pastor and a group of men. We had a walk of nearly one hour to the pastor’s house. I did not want to walk, I did not want to do anything but lie down, sleep, and try to recover from that torturous trip. Shortly after we began the walk, we were overtaken by government officials demanding that we go to their office. They wanted to see our documents to ensure everything was legal. Of course what they really wanted was a bribe. At that moment we were not in much of a “friendly” mood and kind of rejected the “offer” to visit their office. They confiscated our passports so that we would visit them before we left, because they knew we would not leave without our passports.
About an hour, later we reached the pastor’s house. We fell into our seats at the table, having finally reached our destination. My thoughts were, “Get me out of this place, I want to go home, never again, and nothing can be worth this.” I was sitting there miserable, having a pity party because I had gone to a level of physical discomfort that I never again wanted to reach.
At that moment, the pastor walked in the house followed by a group of fifteen men. They squeezed around the table, looked at us without saying a word, and began singing in Swahili that famous mission’s song, “Send the Light.” In all of my days, I have never heard such a beautiful rendition of that song; it was as if a choir of angels began to sing. As I listened to the words of that song, I heard them in a way that I had never before. The words took on a meaning of reality that I had never before experienced. While they were singing, the Holy Spirit took out a chisel and began to work on my hard heart. By the time they reached the last verse and began singing the words, “Let us not grow weary in the work of love,” I had all that I could take, my heart began to weep and tears began to flow. How could I have been so callous to the needs of these people? How could I trade my comfort for the work of the Great Commission? I glanced over at pastor Oloo and saw that he was also wiping the tears from his eyes. I had not known but he also had been having the same thoughts that I had. God used the song to set our thinking right.
|The men who sang to us along with Pastor Oloo, Kambi and Musonga|
Later, we were told their story - and what a story of faith it was! The story of Congo over the last 50 years is of war, genocide, and tragedy beyond imagine. In the midst of this, the work of the Gospel has gone forward. At times, missionaries would try to enter the country and on a few occasions they were able to stay for a few years, before the violence would force them to leave. During such an occasion, in 1970 the Bob Williams family was living in the Eastern Congo town of Kalemie. There he met a young man named Nguo Moja and led him to the Lord. Brother Nguo Moja immediately began showing a zeal for the Word and was called to preach. He began to receive some training, but unfortunately trouble came and his training was cut short.
The missionaries were now gone, again, and brother Nguo Moja went to his home village to live and start a church. He did not know as much as he should, but he knew he was saved, he was a Baptist and he believed the Bible. Besides his Bible, he had a few doctrinal books to guide him. He served the Lord the best he knew. One thing he knew was that he must “Send the Light”. He started other churches in surrounding villages, taught what he had learned, and served God to the best of his ability.
Brother Nguo Moja died two years ago. As I stood next to his grave, I had the privilege of meeting his widow and sons. As I spoke with her, I was moved by her love for the Lord and the Lord’s work. She told me about her husband and the desire of his heart to see the Gospel proclaimed. As I fellowshipped with his family, and heard his story, I realized that Nguo Moja was a hero of the faith. What a man of God who did so much with so little!
|Grave of Pastor Nguo Moja|
Brother Nguo Moja’s assistant pastor is now the pastor of the church. Pastor Shabani shared with us shortly after the church began in 1972, they began to pray individually and also as a church that God would send someone to properly teach and train them. They realized they were lacking some knowledge and desperately wanted to know the Bible. Since 1972, they had never stopped praying for God to send someone. Wars came and went, and with it the accompanying tragedies, but they remained faithful in their service and prayers.
|The church in Kazimia|
|Preaching to the church in Kazimia|
Sometime last year, one of their members was visiting Uvira and saw the Bible Baptist Church of Uvira. Enquiries were made and word went back to Kazimia that there were some Baptists from Kenya, in Uvira, teaching the Bible. Pastor Shabani made the long trip to Uvira and invited us to come and visit. We told him we would pray about it. He came once again and invited us, and we again said we would continue to pray. When he came a third time, he asked if we were praying and we told him we had and would go.
Before leaving to travel back to Uvira, Pastor Shabani looked at us and said, “We have waited for you since 1972. Since 1972, we have never had someone come to teach us, you are the first. We have prayed and God answered our prayers. Thank you for finally coming!”
As I sit here in my office writing this report, my eyes again stray to that paper weight and its words, “Is somebody somewhere waiting for you?”