HERALD INTERNATIONAL (Printing In Over Twenty Languages)
New Herald In Congo!
A few months ago we shared with you that the Lord seemed to be opening a door for a new Swahili Herald for our brothers and sisters in Congo. We rejoice to report that a first issue is now printed and in distribution, and plans for a second issue are underway! Praise the Lord for this opportunity! Special thanks to all of you who are uniting in prayer with us about ministry in Congo.
In order to help us sense more of the Lordís burden for Congo, we asked Ed Buell, a former missionary to Congo (Zaire) who continues to minister there periodically, to provide an overview of the situation in the nation and the Church. We hope the Lord works through his comments to stir your heart toward deeper concern and prayer for Congo and our brothers and sisters in Christ there.
HOHC: What are the conditions like in Congo?
Ed Buell (EB): Though the task of describing the situation in the Democratic Republic of Congo is way too large and complicated for anyone to achieve, I will offer a general overview. At least ever since Portuguese slave traders began raiding villages hundreds of years ago until the present government was elected, one form or another of oppression was over the land. Since the Belgium rule concluded in 1960 there have been several civil wars which were anything but civil. As in many places around the world, horrible atrocities took place which left deep physical, psychological and spiritual impact. In the most recent war it is estimated that as many as 4 million people died as a result of the war and the devastating conditions it brought to an already fragile situation. Another estimate is that as many as 80,000 women were raped, many repeatedly and brutally. Combine that with the AIDS pandemic which is seen all through sub-Saharan Africa and the situation is beyond grim for the general population. And this in a nation which has enough natural resources to be the wealthiest country in Africa and some would say, capable of providing food enough to feed the entire southern portion of the continent. Yet it takes only a short time in the country to see that people are hungry and many literally starving.
For the most part the entire infrastructure is gone. Every system in the country including transportation, education, banking, postal, utilities, water, sanitation, fuel, farming, tax, health and judicial is in unworkable condition. The land is extremely large, nearly equal to the size of Western Europe or equivalent to the USA east of the Mississippi River. A very large part is tropical rain forest with mountains and rivers and active volcanoes. It is a land of immense potential and enormous challenges.
HOHC: What is the condition of the Church?
EB: The condition of the Church today in Congo is also very complicated. There are of course many Christians who are seeking to follow God with all their heart. And yet, like the Church in much of the world, for many their Christianity is very shallow. There is still a great deal of animistic practice, even by Christians. With poverty so prevalent, people are looking for any way to survive and improve their situation, even if it means compromising their faith. They donít want to but they have been brought to believe there is no other way.
HOHC: What answers are there for the country?
EB: One of the things which always happens when a time of peace follows a time of devastating war is for everyone to look for answers outside the country. The government looks for foreign aid, business looks for cash infusions and the Church looks for benevolence. All these are things which can help but over the last couple of centuries these have not proven to be really effective anywhere around the world. Always with large amounts of money comes greed which leads to abuse and misuse of the system. The system has taught everyone to not trust tomorrow so take advantage of what today offers, no matter what it means for others. And when the system is difficult and/or corrupt, progress is hard to come by. So is there an answer?
Well, I am neither a politician or economist or any of the other many specialists which will undoubtedly be needed in the recovery process for Congo. But I do have an idea which I believe will make it possible for all the others to more effectively do their tasks. It is simple to state; time will tell how difficult it is to accomplish. The solution is based on 2 Chronicles 7:14: "Öif My people, who are called by My name, will humble themselves and pray and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land."
In any nation or group of people on earth, when they find themselves struggling in so many ways, as we see in Congo, one of the first things to be done is to look inward and upward. No matter how much money comes in from the outside from whatever source, it will never be enough nor will it be used for all the right things. The difficulties and temptations and the system will just not allow it to happen. But when people can honestly take stock of their situation and place themselves clearly under the hand of God, He can do what no human agency can do. God seems to be saying, "I want the Church to look to Me and not to anyone or anything else for their provision, no matter how heartfelt the help may be." And when God begins to work in the hearts of the people it will be seen in every aspect of manís work. It will not just be the Church which is affected because the Church is the people and the people work in the government and the businesses and the benevolent ministries. It will be God bringing healing to the land.
Congo is full of people who love the Lord. But when we look at the condition of the country it is apparent that Godís grand blessing has not been on this nation for hundreds of years. Why? The answer must come from the people of Congo. The Holy Spirit will speak clearly to those who are willing to humble themselves and seek God and abandon their wickedness. Then God will fulfill the desire of His heart to bless and heal the land.
* That He is moving people today from many different directions to bring a new hope and renewed faith to the nation as a whole.
* For opening the door and allowing Herald of His Coming the opportunity to serve Him and the people of Congo through prayer and through the new Swahili version.
* That the newly elected government will be beneficial to the country.
* For the Church in Congo to be stirred from the depth of the spirit to submit to God and to put trust in Him alone, looking to Him for the answers and direction for the future.
* That those whom God calls to be instruments of encouragement to the people of Congo will also hear Godís leading and follow faithfully the plans He has to bless this great country.
* For a spirit of humility and repentance to permeate first the Church and then to see its effects in every layer of society and government.
* For good Christian literature to be made available to the people who are hungry for godly encouragement. Pray especially for the Lordís provision for additional issues of the Swahili Herald and for His anointing upon these papers to bring forth much spiritual fruit.
*For spiritual and physical protection for those vulnerable to abuse.
*For Congo to be transformed to the extent that all of Africa benefits.