HERALD INTERNATIONAL (Printing In Over Twenty Languages)
Encouraging The People Of Congo
A few months ago we were blessed to share news of a new Swahili version of the Herald for our brothers and sisters in Christ in Congo. Ed and Brenda Buell, former missionaries to Congo (Zaire) and good friends of the Herald ministry, just spent about seven weeks in Congo, participating with the church in some important meetings and sharing what they felt God has placed on their hearts for the people. We asked Ed to provide Herald readers with an update on conditions there.
Herald of His Coming (HOHC): Can you share some news with us regarding the reception of the new Congo Swahili Herald?
Ed Buell (EB): Up to now we have seen two editions of Herald of His Coming in Congo Swahili printed and distributed. Early reports are that it is a very good publication and they are very happy to get it in their hands. Distribution is somewhat slow as there is no postal system and everything has to be delivered as travelers are found. There is a desire by some to have some copies printed in French as well so we are discussing what that will take. It seems to be received very well and some have asked when the next edition will be ready.
HOHC: How would you describe the current conditions and outlook in Congo?
EB: Congo is still struggling with an extremely poor economy and infrastructure. There is much frustration about the terrible living conditions. Many of the pastors in churches with which we work receive almost no salary. Their lives are very difficult. At the same time there is an underlying anticipation that things will get better. Everyone knows they have a very long journey to build up the country in every aspect. But many people are calling for a renewed sense of dedication to doing what it takes to develop the country from the inside. At one of our main meetings to discuss the future of the church, the governor of the area opened the meeting with a short speech. He and others are proclaiming the same message God has given us to share – He wants to bless Congo and primarily to develop them from the inside by using their own resources.
This is very hard for many people to accept, for a couple of reasons. One is that they are in great need for everything from food to medical care to transportation. So waiting for things to improve within the country seems too slow a process. And secondly, there is a pervasive attitude that they cannot do it themselves. They are right that it will be hard. Yet if they want anything of lasting benefit for the country it has to come from within and from their own hands and their own minds. Though it is true that every nation has need for benevolence, a new understanding of what can be done by trusting in God and working hard will make a huge difference.
HOHC: What are some things believers outside of Congo can do to bless the people there?
EB: Congo needs us to pray for this kind of faith; faith that God can do in them what He can do in anyone; faith that He wants to bless them and that He can and will do it from within their country. Also prayer is needed for those of us who are trying to encourage them in every aspect of faith. There are many good people who really trust in God but because of corrupt leadership for many years and the six years of terrible war, they are very disheartened. The current government is working hard to help and we need to lift them up so they will be open to God’s leading and not try to take the whole task on themselves. What needs to be done requires submission to God and persevering hard work.
One area God has burdened our hearts with is the issue of a large number of rape victims who still have not been helped. Estimates run to as high as 80,000 women and girls raped and we are even hearing stories about men who were raped as well. The emotional pain is tremendous. There are groups trying to help and doing good work but more help is needed. At the same time that we are telling the people they need to become responsible for their own development, we want to let them know we also feel their pain. Preaching without compassion is seldom heard.
It seems that God is moving the church toward a somewhat different kind of involvement in missions activity today. Rather than sending a few missionaries and money to preach and teach, Christians are being challenged to partner with people in other cultures through professional connections. Every skill which Christians have is needed in the developing world. Since Congo is rebuilding everything in the country, every skill level is needed. Farming, medicine, education, construction, utilities development, information technology, business development, and everything else can really help. What better way for this to happen than for Christians to participate in seeing these skills shared with Christian attitudes and principles exemplified.
When Christians share in these ways it will do many things at once. First, it will show that we care for the welfare of the people, reflecting God’s care for them. It will help make sure as much of the benefit of the resources of Congo goes back into further development of Congo. Rather than just greed for what can be obtained materially, practices can be initiated which will include generosity and hope and love. And through this kind of involvement, more people will learn to use Christian practices in business and more lives will be brought to the Lord through relational experiences. Right now most of the profits from any businesses in Congo are going into the pockets of a few people and much of that outside the country. Little is being used for internal development. Christians can help turn that around!
HOHC: What role can the ministry of Herald of His Coming play in blessing the people of Congo?
EB: Herald of His Coming can play a great part in this movement of God as all Christians are challenged through the blessed articles to pray for revival within the Church and to seek out practical ways to show it in the lives of people on a daily basis. No matter how good a job we might do, there is always the need to be challenged to keep our spiritual lives sharp and focused. Congo will especially need that kind of encouragement through the many changes which are coming, many of them coming very quickly. The climate in Congo is ripe spiritually and developmentally. The time for us to be fully engaged is now.
• Please pray that as God touches people’s hearts they will be responsive to His leading, whether those in Congo or those called to partner with them. As you pray, be sure to ask the Father what role He has for you in this exciting opportunity.
• Pray for our brothers and sisters in Christ in Congo to be filled with great faith in the desire and ability of God to transform their nation.
• Pray for government officials to continue to work hard, to serve according to God’s ways, and to be instruments of blessing for the people.
• Pray for a great turning in the nation toward God.
• Pray for the people to persevere through difficulties and obtain the blessing that comes through trusting God and standing firm in Him.
• Pray that the Church in Congo will set an example and serve as salt and light for the healing of the nation.
• Pray for Ed and Brenda as they discern the Lord’s will for their future ministry in Congo.
• Pray for the Lord’s continued anointing upon the Congo Swahili Herald, and for His guidance regarding a French version for Congo as well.