We received a bit of Good News regarding the mission work of Baptist missionaries, Glen and Rita Chapman in Kikongo. The following edited excerpts are from the Chapman’s January 2016 letter:
As you (may) know, Kikongo has suffered from its isolation. A couple years ago, a small cell phone tower was installed at Fatundu, about 20 km. away. Even though Fatundu is in a valley, and so is Kikongo, it was discovered that there were hot spots up the hill in the grassland.
Recently, however, it was discovered that there is a hot spot right on our front porch. The signal is strongest right against our living room window. Now all hours of the day and night, people come to our house, right outside our bedroom to make phone calls.
Many of the youth cannot afford phone credits, so they call some friend to transfer credits. They have to leave their phone on right next to our window for the right moment when someone makes the transfer.
Our porch (complete with benches and shade) has become a real hangout. This gives us access to all the village news. People think we are so generous to provide them with a hot spot. The village elders don’t have hot spots at their houses. Only the missionary’s house has it. This gives an illusion of power and good will.
I have been threatening to shut the spot down, even though I have no idea why the blessing has fallen upon us and nowhere else in the village. For a while we took the benches off the porch, but people just brought their own chairs or sat on the cement porch.
We feel like we are living in a fish bowl, but people consider it their right to come to our house anytime.
New things swirled around us throughout 2015, mostly good changes.
We’ve come a long way since January of last year when we were dealing with all sorts of conflict on the station. The church was divided over a pastor leading a prophetic syncretistic splinter group. This year we managed to get control of the church. We now have a former student who is the strong pastor we have been looking for.
During the New Year’s celebration organized by the Scripture Union, one of the men known for his ties with sorcery, played the drum the whole night long at the prayer vigil. He declared that he wanted to begin the New Year differently.
On New Year’s Eve, when people typically get drunk, we came up with a different strategy to keep people off the streets. I began projecting on the soccer field as soon as it was getting dark. I projected a thriller movie: Anaconda. When the movie was over I joked that the only safe place to be on the station was at the church. Lights and instruments had been set up so that as the movie ended, the best place to be was the church. The strategy seemed to work.
We made it through the New Year’s celebration without much trouble. Some fishponds were harvested, so even though we did not have a Christmas cow this year, we still had tilapia for New Year’s dinner.
The biggest change at Kikongo is the new University. We graduated a small class of eight from the pastoral training program in June. In order to respond to the need around us, we moved the pastoral training up to a University Theology program and added two other majors: Agriculture Science, and Teacher training. Our enrollment immediately jumped to 80 for the three majors. Ten times the number we graduated in June. If you are a young person, Kikongo is the place to be!
We already have a solid infrastructure to build from. We have classrooms, dorms, and wireless internet. We have also made significant investment in furnishing the dorm rooms, and installing solar powered lighting in the classrooms.
We have to follow the government requirements for degree programs. This means that we have to bring professors from outside to provide instruction on a modular basis. Those who visit Kikongo are impressed with how far we have come in the first year. We have reversed the rural exodus, as youth from Kinshasa are coming to Kikongo to study.
You should hear the students boast about their university! We are being warned that in the fall, we will have more students than we can handle.
It is a real challenge to provide quality education in a Christian environment. Rita is still working with the families of those in the theology program. She is also the school librarian. I (Glen) am teaching Old Testament and Hebrew.
Last year at this time, it felt like we were losing control of the church, the women, the youth, the hospital and as always, we had difficulties with the government. Kikongo has really made a turn around and by God’s grace, the New Year offers hope for training and developing the future leaders of rural Congo.
Kikongo is the hot place to be in 2016!
Blessings from the Chapmans
What intriguing news—full of unspoken prayer requests and praises to God. Please remember the Chapmans in your prayers.
The powerful draw of their personal hot spot shows the cultural differences. It would be hard for most westerners to deal with people showing up at all hours and yet…it certainly looks like God has used it to increase His influence.
May God protect and encourage the Chapman family. May He be glorified in His work at Kikongo.
© 2016 Hope4Congo