The Graber family, like many other missionaries, were forced to leave the Congo in 1964. Last week we wrote about the family’s desire to return someday. Dinner table conversations revolved around the home they left behind. Those discussions always ended with “someday . . . .”
Forty-Three Years Later
by Brad Graber
God chose not to re-open the door for my Dad and our family to return to Congo. We remained in the United States. But this too, was part of God’s eternal plan laid down before the foundations of the world.
It is our responsibility to keep in step with God’s Spirit. As it says in Galatians 5:25, “Let us follow the Spirit’s leading in every part of our lives.”
I had a dream shortly after we returned to the United States in 1964. In that dream I sat around a fire at night with the Congolese. We talked about the events of the day and the issues of life. Stories from the past were shared and we enjoyed each other’s company.
The dream was all about relationships and living life together and figuring out life together. Over the years, that treasured dream often came back into my thoughts.
In 2007, God opened the door to visit the home we had left behind. My brother Stan and I, along with our wives, traveled to Congo.
Forty-three years after our family was forced to flee Congo,
‘someday’ finally came.
We made our way back to Ndjoko Punda (Charlesville, as we remembered it), the first mission station established under the Congo Inland Mission in 1912.
This photo was taken in August 1912. As you can see, the spelling has changed since then.
This mission station was located along the Kasai River in the Kasai-Occidental province.
Our home was not a hut. We held in our memories the lovely home and mission station we had left behind. It had several well-maintained buildings. The surrounding grounds with our mother’s garden were beautiful.
However, Congo was not the same place we remembered. We recognized many things and places, but the material poverty and spiritual starvation were beyond belief. Our idyllic memories shattered in the face of the current reality.
We came back home to the United States with the satisfaction of having returned to Congo. But we also came home with heavy hearts. Our faith was challenged.
Thank you, Brad. Next week we’ll continue the story.
In the meantime, please join us in prayer for the people of the DRC.
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