A dozen pastors were waiting for us across the border. The men were smiling ear to ear. The women were raising their hands and yelling a very fast high pitched “la-la-la-la-la-la-la-la…” greeting. We walked across the bridge, leaving Rwanda and after two and half days of travel finally entering Congo. For seventeen minutes. Sometime between when we had left Richmond and the day we entered Congo, the Congolese government had changed the visa policy, now requiring a visa from the embassy in Washington, DC. We couldn’t get in. As we walked down the hill to cross the bridge back to Rwanda, all we could do was ask the pastors to pray.
Ahh, the battle. The next day, as we were leaving the hotel, my foot slipped on the stairs, I elbowed a window, and gashed my arm forearm on the concrete frame. As I was passing out, my phone got a text message. Here I am laying on the stairs of a Rwandan hotel with a gash in my arm, passing out, no idea if we will get across the border or not, our host has invited all these pastors and missionaries for training, and we had spent the day before praying and having others pray and what does the text message say? “Welcome to Congo.”
It was from a Congo cell phone company, but it reminded me that God was going to get us in because He wants to do something and wants us to be a part of it. I’d like to say that I jumped right up praising God, my arm was healed, and shared this confirmation that God was in control and that Satan was not going to keep us out of Congo, but honestly I was out cold because I looked at the blood.
Thirty minutes later we walked across the bridge, took our passports to the immigration desk, and got stamped to come in. “Welcome to Congo.”
A number of things happened this past week that kept reminding us that our trip was a real pain in the rear end to Satan. Our van had a major part break. A road we needed to take to get to see the rape victim women was closed for two days because of a car burning riot. Rebels attacked a truck several kilometers from a church we were teaching at on Sunday. Kath was throwing up two minutes before she was supposed to teach, felt fine, and as she was ending had to run out the door getting sick again.
Many of the pastors and missionaries came from difficult backgrounds. The war has claimed many victims. One of them is a young woman, Zjebolei, who I’m guessing is 18 or 19. Rebels attacked her village, kidnapping many woman and holding them hostages. Zjebolei was a raped for a year. Finally escaping, she made her way back to her village, only to find it burned and her mother and father killed during the raid. She made the two day trek to the city we were in, met an older woman named Noela who led her to Jesus. Not long after she gave birth. Zjebolei is an outcast in her country because she’s been violated, and her baby is an outcast because the father is one of the Rwandan rebels (she doesn’t know who) killing people in the region.
Zjebolei didn’t miss a session of the training. And guess what she’s going to do? Tell other women who have been raped, lost families, and have outcast children stories about a God who loves completely, even outcasts.
This trip seared in my heart more the vision God’s given us, to be a catalyst to help national believers plant churches in hard to reach places by helping get people into God’s Word and God’s Word into people with the fewest number of obstacles possible.
We’re about ready to land in Ethiopia on our way home. Kath has been sharing stories with a Rwandan woman sitting next to her for the past two hours. I’ve got a lady changing her kid’s stinky diaper next to me. So much for the glamorous life of a missionary.
Yours for seeing God glorified in hard to reach places.