Congo Daily Life, Part 1

For the next three weeks Hope4Congo will share a series of stories
from Brad’s most recent trip to the DRC.


Daily Life in Congo means: Hunger, Malnourishment, and Suffering

In March 2019 I visited the provincial capital, Tshikapa, in the Kasai province of the Democratic Republic of Congo. This area was deeply affected by the Kamwina Nsafu uprising. Many people fled for their lives during that time. They left the area and/or went into hiding.

Southern Kasai region’s massacres and mass graves of 2017 have given way to general insecurity. Personal safety concerns remain after two years of poor harvests – hunger and malnourishment. The suffering and pain was palpable as I moved about this region.

I had been to Tshikapa on several occasions in the past but this time was different. Things were tense. People were living on the edge.

Over the next weeks I want to share three stories from my time there in an effort to make us more aware of what life is like for many in Congo as well as other countries where there is extreme political unrest among societies mired in poverty.

During breakfast with our host at Tshikapa, he introduced us to a small girl. She was about seven or eight years old. Scars around both wrists of her crippled hands suggested some type of injury.

My host told me her story. She and her younger sister were at home with their parents when some militia entered their home and fired on the family to kill them. In her terror and fear she hid behind her mother and wrapped her arms around her mother’s waist.

Her father and mother fell to the ground. Terrified and crying, this girl and her little sister ran from their hut through the village. Someone reached out to them to ask what the problem was. They told this person they had been attacked and their parents had been killed by the militia.

This person took the children under her care. She learned that the father had been killed, but the mother survived unharmed. The daughter had saved her mother’s life when she wrapped her arms around her mother’s waist.

The bullets intended for her mother struck this girl in both wrists. The emotional and physical scars may never be fully healed unless someone can reach out to this child and her family to provide the spiritual counseling and care most desperately needed.

Please pray for this dear family. Pray for their spiritual and emotional healing.

© 2019 Hope4Congo

Faith and Action

A Word from Brad…

How often do we see someone or some situation that moves us to help yet just don’t know how or what we can do!

Our family evacuated Congo in 1964 along with many other missionary families. My brother and I returned for a visit in October 2007.

At the end of that visit we left Congo feeling helpless to help. We didn’t know how, when or where to begin.

Bible Delivery

The words of James came to mind: “Suppose you see a brother or sister who has no food or clothing, and you say, ‘Good-bye and have a good day; stay warm and eat well.’ ”

We knew we were going back to a life of abundance and warmth and food in America. We were leaving our brothers and sisters with only words and no observable action.

We were convicted that we needed to act. Out of this conviction Hope for Congo was born.

Since that time we have been blessed to provide safe drinking water, generators, carpentry tools, medical equipment, hospital beds, educational assistance, computers, Bibles and the list goes on. All this with monies received from caring individuals such as you who have heard of the need and have chosen to express your faith through the action of giving. Hope for Congo is simply a conduit, through which we, as people of faith, can move beyond mere words.

Tshikapa Well
Tshikapa Well

The needs continue. Our goal is to come along side our bothers and sisters adding action to our faith. Action that will help them become self-sustaining. Someone has said, “If you want to be used by God, find out where God is working and join Him.” Hope for Congo continues to join God at work among brothers and sisters in need.

We need to maintain a long-term view when it comes to living out our life of faith. Without this long view we find ourselves disappointed and disillusioned with God and with others. God’s work is ongoing, moving from the past through to the present and continuing on into the future.

During the next several weeks we want to share life stories of God’s long term work in Congo.

As I heard it said the other day, “Put your yes on the table and God will place it on the map.” Our desire is that these stories will move you to put your “Yes” on the table and watch God work.


Prayer Requests:
• Please continue to pray for the political situation in Congo
• Praise that Charles Buller & his team have returned from Congo (Hope to share news soon)

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© 2016 Hope4Congo

Brad First Returned to Congo in 2007

Brad and his wife, Sharon

This week we hear from Brad. Brad what was the Congo like when you returned in 2007?


“The Congolese were never trained to be leaders. Each tribe wanted to be in power. Tribal warfare broke out all over the country. There was no understanding of what it took to preserve the country’s infrastructure. None of the Congolese had experience or the education to maintain order. Nor did they have the understanding of economics, or politics, or how to keep up or repair mechanical services.

“When my wife and I landed at the Kinshasa airport, the runway was full of potholes. A junkyard filled with broken and rusted planes lined all sides of the airport strip. When we de-planed we couldn’t figure out where the main entrance was to the terminal. There were three doors. About a dozen Africans yelled at once. They all wanted us to do something different. They all wanted to be in charge. We chose the entrance were the majority of Africans entered the building.

“Inside, we wondered what all the noise was on the other side of the wall. We had to stand in line to go through the door. On the other side was pandemonium: a sea of people, all milling about, shouting at us, and demanding money. Ninety percent of the people were there to make a living by accosting people. They tried to grab suitcases. There were no signs telling us what to do. We could have been taken advantage of by all of these people. We had to fight our way through the crowd.

“Before we left for Africa our mother gave us this advice: If you get in a jam, try speaking Tshiluba and see what happens.

“I yelled above the din, ‘Does anyone here speak Tshiluba?’

“The people calmed down. Three or four people came forward who spoke that dialect. Eventually someone from the church arrived. They helped us navigate the chaos and the bribes. It was a relief to get into a taxi outside the airport.

“Everywhere we went we were shocked by the appearance of the city. The buildings were deteriorating. No one fixed anything, partly because they didn’t know how, partly because there was no money, and partly because there were no supplies or reserves to fix anything.

“Colonialism had its flaws, but after the country gained its independence the cultural instability and economic hardships increased.

“Previously, under Belgian rule, everything was orderly and maintained. There was a beauty to the order. Palm trees with painted white trunks lined the roads. Buildings were kept clean and painted.

“During the rainy season the roads washed out. The Belgians had a system in place to fix the roads. Each village was assigned a certain amount of road to maintain.

“The people ate much better. They had better access to fruit. They had crops. After the rebel movement, the Congolese allowed everything to self-destruct. The coffee and palm oil plantations, which were the main Congolese exports, were all gone. These plantations had provided jobs and money for the people.

“Now, no one wanted to work. They all chased the wind, looking for a quick buck through mining for diamonds or gold. Or living off bribes. The average Congolese person will do whatever it takes to survive.

“When Mubutu came to power, he raped the country through his dysfunctional leadership. He filled his coffers with the country’s bounty and left the country desolate.”

It’s heartbreaking, Brad. No wonder the Lord opened your heart and Stan’s to begin this ministry.

Please Follow us to keep us with the current ministry plans in Congo.

©2015 Hope4Congo

Baditu Grows Up

Brad “Baditu” and Sharon Graber

Our interview continues with Brad.
What was it like growing up in the Congo?

“Like the Adventures of Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn. It was the perfect place to run and play. We were safe because everyone looked out for us. My African name was Baditu. It means: of the forest.

“Our dad was an avid hunter. He brought deer, antelope, guinea or nquadi fowl (similar to prairie chicken or pheasant). We ate well.

“We also ate bidia made from the maniac root and a green plant similar to spinach. We had eels or chicken, too. A favorite Congolese dish was a fried meal called, mikata. It was made with greens and plantains.

“For pets we had baby crocodiles and a bright-colored talking parrot. Stan had a pet monkey. He’ll have to tell you what happened to it.

“There was always a sense of adventure. Our location was heavily forested. We walked the forest paths through trees, grass, and bamboo. We had picnics on the white beach sandbar beside the crocodile infested waters. We always had a fire to keep the crocs away.”


“Yes. A South African crocodile hunter came to hunt along the Kasai River about one mile from our mission station. Like any younger brother, I always wanted to do what my older brother did. Stan got to go with Dad to the hunt. I didn’t.”

Sounds like a story for another day.

Check back with us next week. We’ll begin our interview with Stan. Maybe we’ll get to the bottom of this crocodile hunter story.

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©2015 Hope4Congo

What is it about the Congo?

Most fascinating to me is what led the Graber brothers to return to the Congo and establish a ministry to the Congolese people. Today’s post is taken from my interview with Brad. It certainly reflects his heart. After you read it tell us what you think in the comments section at the bottom of the post.

“In 1964 we were forced to leave our home in the Congo. The rebels who were seeking power in opposition to the native African government (the Congolese had obtained independence by then) took over and anarchy reigned. We were rescued by the U.N. and eventually returned to America.

“America was a shock to me. I turned thirteen that fall.

“Always I carried with me my memories of home in the Congo. I had a vision or a dream of one day returning. I longed to return to Africa. To sit around the fire at night with the Congolese, to hear the stories, to be where I belonged with my friends. I shared experiences with them. I identified with them.

“The thought never left me of sitting around the fire at night with them. I think God gave me this dream to draw me back to the Congo. Although all of us identified with our parents calling to the mission field, I never felt called to be a missionary.

“But the desire to re-connect with the Congolese never left me. In 2007, my older brother, Stan and I, together with our wives, made the trip. Our plan was to show our wives where we grew up. However, the Lord had another plan. He used that trip to create the vision of Hope 4 Congo.

“Proverbs 16:9 In his heart a man plans his course, but the Lord determines his steps. (NIV). God gave the dream. Although I wasn’t called back to be a missionary, I was called to be a facilitator or conduit for what God wished to do there at our former home.

“Our mission home was on the North side of the Kasai River. Originally the site was only a small fishing village. In 1911 the local chief, Ndjoko Punda, offered the ground for the mission station. He designated that there was to be No bloodshed on that ground. Through that chief the mission station which bears his name was set apart for God’s purposes.”

©2015 Hope4Congo