Dear Friends and Family
I greet you in the mighty and amazing Name of Jesus Christ.
I hope that all is well with you and those who are dear to you.
I am happy to report that by God’s grace, I have safely returned from an effective and blessed Mission to Congo and Rwanda. Please find here in the following paragraphs my Mission Report of my experiences, challenges, ministry, and blessings as experienced by myself in this Mission. As a point of recommendation, I believe that it might be appropriate that a cup of tea or coffee be arranged to accompany the reading of this report due to its lengthy nature. I trust that in reading you will be blessed as I have been in embarking on and completing this Mission.
Despite a severe attack on my spirit, God blessed my efforts and endeavors in Congo and Rwanda. I was able to connect with the people and effectively convey into their hearts and minds something of lasting value. I personally was also immensely blessed by the presence and leading hand of God during my time in Congo. I have come back home feeling mildly guilty because I have been more blessed than I was able to be a blessing; I poured out my heart in Congo, gave everything I had to give, and though I should be coming home empty, I come home bursting at the seams with joy, vision, and passion.
“You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on You, because he trusts in You.”
My prayer for you is that this perfect peace will always be yours to enjoy. I can report that even through tough challenges I have been blessed to have been a partaker of this peace which passes understanding. Let us keep our minds fixed on God and keep trusting Him.
Peace That Surpasses Understanding
Before embarking on this Mission to Congo and Rwanda I had to trust and rely on God in a way that I have never had to before in more ways than one. Firstly, I had to trust God to provide all the finances necessary to make this Mission possible as there were no funds available from our Mission HQ. Believing that God had opened this door for ministry in this region at this time, I trusted that He would provide. I was absolutely amazed at how God brought in the exact amount that was needed – no more, no less. I don’t know why I am astounded by this because that is precisely what I had faith that God would do. God is great! Of course, God used some of you to provide this need as you gave of your finances to make this Mission a success, and for this I am extremely grateful to you. As I was sitting in the airplane at Cape Town Airport waiting to take off, I received a notification that the final amount needed had come through. This was a great confirmation to me of God’s hand in this Mission – I had a peace that surpassed understanding.
“And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding,
will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
Peace Threatened in Vain
The second way that I had to trust God in a way that I have never had to before was when the peace that I had in God was threatened just a few days before my planned departure on this Mission. I received a letter (the contents of which I am not at liberty to share at this moment) which rocked my world like an earthquake. Effectively, the consequence of a decision that I had made for my family’s spiritual well-being, resulted in losing support, encouragement, and assistance from a source which I consider invaluable. I was reeling in shock at the contents of the letter which had brought this piercing news. Doubts and confusion threatened to compromise the Mission I was about to embark on. But I immediately turned my eyes heavenward and threw myself totally in the hands of God, trusting that He will work all things out for good. Instantly, I had a joy and a peace that neither I nor my wife could understand. I went about the final preparations for my departure unaffected by the news which (humanly speaking) should have derailed this Mission. All glory to God for the amazing way He works in our lives.
“And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God,
to them who are the called according to His purpose.”
Air Travel to Kigali
As you most probably know, I normally do not travel by air when embarking on a Mission; I usually drive. This allows us to carry more Gospel books, literature, and tracts for distribution in the field. But due to the limiting factors of finances and time (Renee and I being busy with a fertility program means we can’t really spend too much time apart) flying was the best option. This however limited me to very little Gospel literature for our contacts in the field. I was able to pack in 20kg of Bibles (French), New Testaments, Gospel of John booklets, John & Romans booklets (French), Biblical Principles for Africa book (French), and Gospel tracts (French). I took very little other luggage as I was limited to 7kg for a carry-on bag in which were my clothes and survival gear. After a 2 hour flight to Johannesburg, a 18 hour lay-over, and a 4 hour flight to Kigali I arrived in Rwanda where my land travel was to begin. As we came in to land I had an excellent view of Rwanda’s lush green rolling hills.
Warm Welcome in Kigali
After passing through immigration control which was friendly and efficient, I stepped out into the fresh air of Kigali. I immediately recognized the familiar face of Kidumu who eagerly welcomed me and relieved me of one of my bags. I had spent some time with Kidumu at Makobolo and Uvira last year during our Overland Mission to Congo (DR) and it was great to meet him again here in Kigali; he had come to escort me to Goma. Kidumu can’t speak English and I can’t speak French, but the little we knew of each other’s language was enough to vaguely communicate. I was once again pleasantly surprised by the cleanliness and efficiency of Kigali which is one of the nicest cities I have visited in Africa. There is no litter anywhere, the traffic lights work – and drivers obey the signals, people are friendly and hard-working, well-maintained gardens, parks, and flowerbeds beautify the city, and the buildings are well-built, clean, and impressive. Kidumu and I took a cab to the bus rank and from there boarded a bus to Gisenyi which is the border town in Rwanda neighbouring Goma, DRC.
Roller-Coaster Bus Ride to Goma
The bus ride was quite an experience in learning trust. The transportation system in Rwanda is well-organized and therefore I got a sense that things will be ok. The 36 seater bus was fully loaded with no more than 36 passengers; as some of you will know this is quite unique for Africa, but very normal for Rwanda. I breathed a sigh of relief, thinking to myself, “I’m in good hands”. However I soon realized that this bus has a fairly powerful engine and is able to keep a good speed up the many winding hills of Rwanda (known as the country of a thousand hills). So with slower moving traffic on these steep inclines and sharp bends, overtaking was quite scary – blind corners and blind rises. Our driver was taking risks that I would have certainly declined; all too often I found myself clinging to the seatback in front of me. After a while, though, I got used to the squealing tires and being tossed left and right by the G-forces and realized that this driver actually knows the road way better than I do as he drives it daily. With this thought in mind, I abandoned back-seat-driving and just enjoyed the beautiful scenery of the lush green hills and forests, the efficiently farmed steep hills, and the bright green tea and rice plantations in the valleys.
Goma at Last!
After a 4 hour bus ride that seemed more like a ship on stormy seas being tossed to and fro, up then down, I was somewhat relieved to disembark this heaving bus in Gisenyi at the Rwanda/Congo border. It was raining when we arrived and light was fading fast as night was approaching. I encountered a mild problem at the Congo Immigration control which I couldn’t quite understand due to my lack of command of the French language. However, I knew there was some sort of problem given that the immigration official and our host in Goma were discussing and debating something quite animatedly. The official then turned around and left his office through a door at the back, with my passport in hand closing the door behind him. A European lady behind me in the que (who daily crosses this border as she works in Congo but lives in Rwanda) said, “Now you’re in trouble. Whenever he goes through that door with a passport, it is never good news.” I had a valid visa and couldn’t see why there would be a problem. She said, “Maybe you’ll be the first person that will be ok after that.” Soon the official came back out of that ominous door, stamped my passport, and welcomed me with a smile.
Goma – Volcano, Gorillas, and Rebels
Goma is the capital city of North Kivu province and is quite a developed city with fairly decent roads. Goma has attracted many tourists over the decades due to her active volcano (which boasts the world’s largest larva lake) and the last remaining populations of mountain gorillas which live in the forests nearby. Goma has also been a strategic town for rebels to attack due to its close proximity to Rwanda and as a tourist town, kidnapping and international pressure can quickly bring about favourable responses to demands that are made by the rebels. Goma has had relative peace over the last year and the town seems to be functioning as normal.
Ministry in Goma
I had not come to Goma for tourist reasons, but rather to meet with and train a group of pastors, church planters, and church leaders in the effective Evangelism principles of The Way of the Master. The side roads we used to get to the church were rough and bumpy – we were driving on a larva river (obviously dried up). The homes and walls all along the way were built with ‘quarried’ larva rock. The church itself where we met for the training was an impressive structure in comparison to all others around. It was built with cement bricks and stood 3 storeys high. Though it had no paint or fancy architecture, it was a perfect venue for the 100+ pastors and church leaders who gathered to hear what this ‘mzungu’ (white man) had to say.
I made it very clear to them that I am not bringing a white man’s ideas or culture to their town, but rather bringing Biblical principles for Evangelism which are effective and true in any culture. These pastors eagerly listened and took notes vigorously as I laboured with greatest effort to connect with these pastors in order to effectively convey to their hearts and minds, these blessed principles of effective Evangelism. I was determined to leave something of lasting value behind in Goma which would bear fruit even long after I would be gone. I thank you for your prayers in this regard, because God really helped me to connect with this group of pastors and effectively convey to them something of great value.
“For who makes you differ from another? And what do you have that you did not receive?
Now if you did indeed receive it, why do you boast as if you had not received it?”
1 Corinthians 4:7
Floating Luxury on Lake Kivu
After our ministry was concluded in Goma, Kidumu and I boarded the Emmanuel 1 for our 12 hour 200km southwards voyage to Bukavu. This small ship had a premier class on the upper deck and I was privileged to have received a ticket to travel in this lavish and comfortable part of the ship. The seating arrangements were great big soft sofas set out in a large spacious hall with coffee tables and 220v power outlets available for charging phones other devices. Though the view from above was wonderful, we had boarded the night ship which means that we wouldn’t be seeing much scenery until the morning hours. Besides, it was overcast and raining and I was a little disappointed that I didn’t get to see the volcano properly (though I was able to snap a quick picture when the clouds briefly cleared). Two hours after departure from Goma, I was walking around at the back of the ship and looked back towards Goma and was startled to see two ominous red glowing eyes glaring back at me from the dark horizon. These were the two active volcanoes of that region, one in Goma and the other in Gisenyi.
Arriving in Bukavu
There were many strange looking fishing boats that were coming back from the night’s fishing when we finally arrived at our destination. Bukavu is a busy bustling economic hub and is the capital city of South Kivu Province. Bukavu has also in recent years been attacked by the rebels on a few occasions, but at this time there was peace and no threats of violence. The primary road system in Bukavu is seemingly well maintained with traffic police at some intersections serving as traffic control (doing the function of traffic lights – they stand on a box in the middle of the intersection and give hand signals while blowing on a high-pitched whistle).
Ministry in Bukavu
The Eglise El-Shaddai Church in Uvira (120km south from Bukavu) had recently planted a church in Bukavu and requested that I conduct a Way of the Master training Seminar with the members of Eglise El-Shaddai Bukavu. I was very happy for this opportunity, as many of you know that I am quite passionate about helping others to grasp the valuable principles of evangelism as taught in the The Way of the Master. There were about 20 folk who attended this seminar and I am once again grateful to God that He helped me to connect with these believers and teach them these powerful principles despite the challenges of language/cultural barriers.
Bouncing Through Borders and Potholes
Once we had completed our ministry in Bukavu, Kidumu was replaced by Kaskil as my escort, and we embarked on the bumpy 4 hour taxi ride to Uvira. Due to the lack of maintenance of the national roads in Congo and the subsequent increase in rebel activity and attacks on vehicles that use such roads, it was decided that it would be best and safest to travel south using the road system provided by neighbouring Rwanda whose roads are vastly superior. However, this meant that I would need to pass through border control twice in the same 4 hour journey. Bukavu is right on the Rwanda border so we only had a short bumpy ride through the rough potholed roads of Congo before we had crossed the border and were enjoying the well-maintained smooth roads of the hills of Rwanda. As we came down the mountain pass into the Rusizi River valley where the next Rwanda/Congo border is, I was astounded by the rich luscious agricultural growth that abounded in this fertile well-watered valley. After passing through immigration control once again, we left the smooth roads of Rwanda behind us and bounced, rattled, and flew over the rough potholed roads of Congo. We once had to drive through a river where the bridge was broken and though it wasn’t too deep, the taxi engine was spluttering and struggling for breath even kilometers after we had made it to the other side. Finally after being tossed about inside the heaving taxi for what felt like the whole day, but was only 4 hours, we arrived in Uvira. I was relieved to be there, I felt as if I had arrived home.
Faith Family and Friends
Since my first encounter with Eglise El-Shaddai Uvira, I have been astounded and blessed by what God is doing in this region which has such a terrible history of violence and unrest. My heart has been blessed beyond understanding as I have been witness to the passion and love that these believers have for God, His Work, and expanding His Kingdom. My heart jubilates with praises to my Saviour as I see the Faith that has taken root in the hearts of these passionate people and I realize that these are my friends, no these are my family! We are brothers and sisters bound into one Family through our Faith in Him Who forgives our sins, reconciles us to God, and clothes us with His own Righteousness. It was very good for me to be here. Indeed I was bountifully blessed just to be found in the presence of my brothers and sisters.
Ministry in Uvira
I had a very blessed time of ministry in Uvira not only with Eglise El-Shaddai, but also with some affiliates of their Congo for Christ Mission who required some Evangelism training. There were two different ministries to which I provided Way of the Master training which I thoroughly enjoyed and am confident that the principles have been effectively conveyed and have already been put into practice. I have already been receiving reports of the value of the training and for this I am truly grateful to God.
A Growing, Passionate, and Unique Church
With the Eglise El-Shaddai Uvira church, I had the privilege of ministering in the main church building (which is a 580 seater) on 4 occasions which was absolutely wonderful. It was so encouraging to me to have seen how this church has grown dramatically, not only in numbers, but also in grace and truth since 2013 when I first encountered this God-honouring church. They only had 240 members then, but now are almost 700! As a non-resident, itinerant missionary I have travelled to 17 countries in Africa, I have worshipped God in hundreds of different churches, but never in all those churches have I experienced such love, worship, and obedience to God than I have with this group of sincere believers.
Sunrise With God’s Word
Eglise El-Shaddai conducts a morning Devotions for 1 hour every morning before work at 06h00 – 07h00 Monday to Saturday. These meetings are held outside under a tree on the church plot which has been recently bought and where the church building project is underway. There are about 60-80 members who regularly attend these morning meetings where I was privileged to have the opportunity to share with them God’s Word each morning for a week. I was asked to focus on the need for Christian Action. I spoke on topics such as Faith Without Works is Dead, You are the Salt of the Earth, You are the Light of the World, Are You Like One of Them(enemy of God)?, Are You Following at a Distance?, Power from Within, and The Mystery of Christ in You.
Church Building Project
I had a wonderful opportunity to get involved with the ambitious church building project in Uvira. The idea is to build a 1500 seater church building which would comfortably house the almost 700 members and also provide room for growth. Many of the church members, almost 100 of them, gathered together on Saturday after the morning Devotions and got started on helping to build the church. We all started by moving the bricks that had been delivered closer to the building site. We created a human chain and passed the bricks down the line 4 at a time till it reached the chosen site. Once this was done, our next project was to carry sand from the lake shore up to the building site. The distance was about 200 meters and our method of carrying the sand was in bags or buckets on the shoulder or on the head. To and fro we went, down to the river empty handed, and back up to the building site heavily laden with sand. Once we had done carrying enough sand, we then repeated this procedure, only this time now carrying stones for gravel. This was hard work, but fun, knowing that it was for a great purpose and doing it with beloved brothers and sisters made it all worthwhile.
Locally Funded Project
One of the amazing things about this church building project in Uvira is that it is being done entirely with local finances and resources. There is no foreign money coming in to support this noble project. Up to this point, it is church money that has bought the plot and financed the beginning stages of the building project. They still have a long way to go. Please pray for this church building project that God will provide all the resources needed to bring it to a successful completion. If you would like to help with a financial donation to this church, I could provide you with their banking details.
Back to Rwanda
It was with great sadness, parting gifts, and final prayers for one another that I finally left Uvira heading back to the hill country of Rwanda. I took the bumpy taxi ride again, this time in reverse, through the swollen river, up the Rusizi River Valley bouncing over the potholes and finally arrived at the Rwanda border relieved to know that the rough road is now behind us. We then boarded a bus that took us through the roller-coaster ride up and over the incessant hills and around the sharp bends with hardly ever a straight section of road, and finally arrived at Ruyenzi (about 12km outside of Kigali) at around 21h00.
Simple Church Revolution
I had come here to Ruyenzi to attend a training seminar being taught by Roger Thoman who used to be a pastor of a major church in America. Roger has started a Discipleship Making Movement which is called Simple Church Revolution. Pastor Steven Alembe from Eglise El-Shaddai Uvira has been working with Roger for a number of years and this training was arranged for the Congo for Christ Mission Team of which I am proud to be a member. I was very blessed by the training which was directed at encouraging house churches with simple structure focusing on obedience to God’s Word. This Simple Church Revolution is specifically designed and geared for rapid multiplication and to obey the instruction given by Jesus to, “Go into all the world and preach the Gospel…” Mark 16:15
I have learned some great ideas from this Simple Church Revolution and I hope to soon implement these lessons not only in my home town, but also in Malawi and in Africa where I set my foot.
After the Simple Church Revolution training in Ruyenzi, I proceeded to Kigali to meet with pastor Safari whom I had met last year at a Great Commission Fire Seminar which I conducted in Burundi. He had invited me to his church in Kigali to conduct an Evangelism Training Seminar with various pastors from neighbouring churches. This is the ideal kind of setup for Africa, to have the church leaders trained so that they can convey the teaching to their members and communities. That way it is not the white man’s Gospel, but rather the local indigenous church leader sharing precious information with his own people. I had a wonderful time of teaching Way of the Master evangelism principles and received many thanks from these eager pastors for sharing with them these powerful evangelism principles.
Flight Back Home
As I headed to the airport in Kigali, driving through the beautiful streets, I thought of the past 2 weeks and the Mission I was just wrapping up. I had given all my energy, time, knowledge, finances, literature, and gifts to the people I encountered and for the success of this Mission, I had laboured hard and incessantly to ensure that when I leave any area or person that I have left something of lasting value behind. But as I drove in that taxi, thinking of all that I had poured out, I was amazed and overjoyed at the wonderful blessings I had received from God and from His people. My heart was full, bursting at the seams with blessings, vision, passion, direction, ideas, and love. I felt somewhat guilty. I had come to be a blessing to Congo and to Rwanda, but I found that Congo and Rwanda had been a greater blessing to me. I pondered these thoughts as I flew back to South Africa – what was God preparing me for?
Home Sweet Home
I was super excited to see my beautiful wife at the airport and breathlessly shared with her all that God had done and showed me on this Mission. I thoroughly enjoyed her superb cooking, and then sat down to begin the task of admin. The Mission is not over until the admin is complete. This Mission’s admin included a response to a weighty letter that demanded immediate attention – the letter I had received 3 days before departing on this Mission. This letter, its weighty content, and my responsibility to respond to it consumed my attention for a couple of days before I finally felt at peace that my response was complete.
New Season for Great Vision
I am still not at liberty to share with you the contents of that letter, but what I can say is this: God opens doors and God shuts doors. I believe that God has brought me to the point where a door which in the past was wide open, welcoming, and productive has now been shut firmly. However this shut door has opened my eyes to see the wide open gates that are before me; the potential and possibilities that lie ahead excite my spirit so much so that my heart leaps in my chest! God has placed in my heart a vision, passions, desires, and ideas for helping Africa to understand the mystery of God which is Christ in Whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.
Happy Sad Christmas
I will share with you my vision and passions in the New Year. This Christmas is the 1st anniversary of my Mom’s promotion to Glory. She always used to tell me that one day God will use me in a great way. Now that Mom is gone and only her words remain, though I miss her dearly, the vision and passion I have to serve God in Africa fill my heart so intensely that I fear my chest may not contain the joy and excitement.
Please pray for me as I seek God for clear guidance on the practical steps that will be necessary to make this vision a reality.
Thank You !!
Thank you to all of you who gave of your finances to make this Mission possible. God has used you to further His Kingdom in Africa. I am immensely grateful and there are many joyous hearts in Africa who are also grateful that you gave.
Thank you also to all of you who prayed for me during the course of this Mission and leading up to it. Prayer is one of the most crucial parts for the success of any mission or endeavour that we undertake. I am eternally grateful to you who prayed for me, for my protection, and for the effectiveness of my ministry. You have made an eternal effect in Africa.
May God’s richest blessings be with you and all whom you love during this time of Christmas where we remember that God sent His Son into this world because He loved us so much that even though we were His enemies, He wanted us to be reconciled to Him and to be in His Family.
I hope you have a blessed and merry Christmas.
In His service and still loving it!
“That HIS glory may dwell in the land.” – Psalm 85:9b