March 29, 2020

Some of God’s Beloved People

Hope4Congo continues to forward reports to our readers. Today’s post includes two different perspectives.

Pastor Quarantined in Kinshasa

A Congolese pastor among the quarantined in Kinshasa sent an update via email on March 27. The following are translated excerpts from his update.

“I do not know how the States with their leaders at all levels guide you, but I would like to share with you our painful news in the DRC.

“(Authorities) have made the decision to confine the capital city of Kinshasa for 4 weeks. Let’s say near the end of April 2020. Kinshasa is in a state of emergency . . . isolated from other provinces . . . no flights of aircraft . . . no vehicles, no exits, no entrances . . . to save the 22 provinces not reached (by the coronavirus).

“Thus Kinshasa and its 12 million inhabitants are under quarantine. The big problem . . . the economic crisis which involves the non-payment of wages . . . People live day by day . . . rising food prices . ..

“The brothers and sisters in Kikwit, Mukedi, Kandale, Kamayala, Tshikapa, Kalonda, Nyanga, Mutena, Banga, Ndjoko-Punda, Kananga, Mbuji-Mayi are not affected.

“However, we are mourning 2 Mennonite brothers and 1 sister who died of a long and painful illness:
Rev. Pasteur Ndala of the CEFMC, Former Enos Kangu Swalala, and widow Maman Francoise Kanzenze (aunt sr Colette Ramm).”

MPH Guesthouse

On March 25, the Dunns updated their FB page. The following are excerpts from their message:

Things in DRC change daily and even hourly due to the pandemic. The government announced all domestic travel by plane, road and river will be stopped. Only cargo will be moving.

Because of travel restrictions three guests are stranded at MPH:
A German missionary (Fr Friedhelm, from the Vanga mission hospital, Bandundu) is in mandatory 14 day quarantine since he came back from Germany March 13th. Paul and Marty Law are on a voluntary 14 day quarantine since they arrived from the U.S. They can’t get to Lodja.

The Dunns have kept their distance from their quarantined guests by putting food on disposable plates outside their doors. Once the quarantine is over, the Dunns will ask these guests to help share the chores.

The U.S. Embassy arranged the last evacuation flight for Americans on Thursday night, March 26.

The guesthouse is adequately supplied with food stuff. But there are other challenges. Because the government has limited the number of people in taxis and busses, transport is hard to get and drivers have jacked up prices. The Dunns had to increase what they pay their sentries to reflect the increase in transport.

If the Dunns or their guests catch the virus, there is NO MEDICAL CARE for any of them. They will have to isolate themselves from one another and self-medicate the best they can.

The Dunns testify: “We know that God is Sovereign and nothing surprises him. We use the wisdom he has given us and the faith we have in HIM, to pull us through.”

Encouragement

The pastor quarantined in Kinshasa sent a scripture passage to edify all confined to their homes:
If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land. ~II Chronicles 7:14

Prayer

Praise God for his faithful servants of all nations who continue to work for the kingdom of God.
Prayer requests for all those in Congo.
• Pray that this pandemic passes quickly.
• Pray about MPH finances. The costs are hitting MPH hard.
• Pray about how you might be able to help.
• Pray for those 12 million quarantined inhabitants in Kinshasa.
• Pray that God would grant wisdom to the Congolese authorities and they would implement it.

The Dunns offer prayers for their family and friends around the globe who are affected by this virus.

The quarantined pastor also sent this prayer: “May our God also keep you, all of you, our brothers and sisters in Christ, scattered throughout the world.”

Amen!

© 2020 Hope4Congo.com


March 25, 2020

Corona Virus in the DRC

Like the rest of the world, Congo is taking measures to mitigate the spread of the corona virus.
• International flights are shut down.
• Stores, churches and schools are closed.
• Food sources open, but supplies are limited.
• Prices are doubling and tripling.
• Drivers have jacked up prices for transport.
• Lack of transportation restricts access to food supplies.
• Changes occur daily and sometimes hourly.
• Cases of corona virus: As of Monday (3/23/20) 36 confirmed cases, including two deaths.
• As with other news in the DRC, the challenge is to determine the accuracy.
• Monetary assistance from WHO (World Health Org.) is tied to properly documented reports.

Another difficulty is that some people do not believe there is a new disease.

Drill Arrived

Praise the Lord! Our drilling equipment arrived safely at Ndjoko Punda. This is a big deal. We are one step closer to offering the people safe drinking water.

It traveled from L.A. to Matadi via ocean freight, but was lost for a time in Matadi. After searching 4-6 weeks, it was found in a warehouse, then transported by truck to Kinshasa and from there by river transport to Ndjoko Punda.

Such is the common story in the DRC. It’s a far cry from what we expect (or demand) here in the U.S. We can track our shipments and see where they are—sometimes on a daily or hourly basis. Not so in Congo.

Prayer Items

Praise and thank the Lord with us today for:
Keeping the drilling equipment safe and delivering it to Ndjoko Punda.


Pray for the people of Congo.
May they be alert to health safety. May they find adequate food. May they remain calm.
May the Christians be a witness. In their speech and behavior may they exhibit Christlikeness.

© 2020 Hope4Congo.com

Before the Throne, Part 3

After this I looked, and there before me
was a great multitude that no one could count,
from every nation, tribe, people and language,
standing before the throne
and before the Lamb.
They were wearing white robes
and were holding palm branches in their hands.

Revelation 7:9

Last week we shared Chapter 1 of Pastor Athanase Musende’s story. He had called his friend, Charity Schellenberg about his great difficulty walking. For two years, she and her husband had tried to get him the help he needed for his feet and his severe heart disease, but without success.

Charity was overwhelmed with the significance that he had called her. “We’ll pray for you,” she offered. Before she could say more, the call was dropped. She tried unsuccessfully to reestablish the phone connection between Kinshasa, where she was, and Pastor Musende in Kamayala.

Charity (Eidse) Schellenberg continues his story this week.

__________________________________

Musende’s Last Visit, Chapter 2
by Charity (Eidse) Schellenberg

Later I was able to speak on the phone with Wenyi Nzey’, an elder of the congregation. I asked about Pastor Musende. “Can he walk?”

“He’s still walking, but with difficulty,” said Wenyi.

During Easter week of 2012 Pastor Musende gave the seminars at the Kamayala church. Every day he expounded the death and resurrection of Christ. He compared it with the human experience of death. “You have to endure suffering in order to experience resurrection.”

“He spoke with special insight, as if from personal experience,” said Wenyi Nzey’. “He interspersed the teaching with songs filled with pathos. We were astounded and moved to tears.”

After the Kamalaya Good Friday service, Pastor Musende borrowed Wenyi’s motorbike to visit a village four kilometers away. He administered baptism and communion before returning home.

On Holy Saturday morning, April 7, Pastor Musende died in his footsteps, so to speak.

Wenyi said, “During the week Musende told me once that he couldn’t sleep at night. He wondered if he would live until morning. We realize now that God extended his life through this week so he could impart this teaching.”

News of Pastor Musende’s death shook the region and the Mennonite Church of Congo (CMCo) community.

In addition to Musende’s other gifts mentioned in Chapter 1, it should be noted that he was a skilled peacemaker. A calm man of few words with a ready smile, when he did speak, it was with wisdom and insight.

He served Kamayala and Kahemba districts as a Bible institute professor, a high school teacher, and a key pastor and spiritual leader. He did not seek high position or power and had turned down the nomination for head of the district.

In spite of his heavy teaching and preaching load, Pastor Musende farmed and worked hard in his dry-season market gardens. He provided for his wife and extended family. He was a loving husband, father, friend, and mentor, a victorious and dedicated Christian.

“One thing in particular stands out about him,” said Wenyi. “He never despaired, even in these last years of suffering.”

Justin Mbuyuyu was the pastor of the congregation in the village where Pastor Musende traveled the night before his death. Those baptismal candidates were the first fruits of Justin’s work.

Pastor Musende’s last visit, each painful step he had taken, was in order to administer baptism in Justin’s congregation.

In his death, as in his life, Pastor Musende Uthu Naweji Athanase demonstrated the transcendent power of the resurrection.

As we stood on the threshold of heaven on Easter weekend, we relinquished our brother to the One who gives and who takes away. We persevered to say, “I know that my Redeemer lives!”

____________________________

Thank you so much for sharing his story with us, Charity. Surely Musende will be one of those standing before the throne.

Author’s Biography:
Charity (Eidse) Schellenberg, M.A. was born in 1956 to Canadian parents Ben and Helen Eidse, in Kahemba, D. R. Congo, and was raised among the Chokwe-Lunda people, along with sisters, Hope, Faith and Grace. She later married John Schellenberg in Manitoba, Canada. They have lived with their three children in Burkina Faso, in a traditional Senufo village where they served two terms with Africa Inter-Mennonite Mission, sent by the Canadian conference of the Evangelical Mennonite Church.

Charity authored the Forward for her father Ben F. Eidse’s published dissertation: The Disciple and Sorcery, The Lunda-Chokwe View (Cambridge Scholars Publishing, UK, 2015). She contributed a chapter in the anthology Writing Out of Limbo, International Childhoods, Global Nomads and Third Culture Kids (Bell-Villada, Sichel, Eidse and Orr; Cambridge Scholars Publishing, UK, 2011). Charity co-authored her self-published The Peace Seekers, The Story Of The Canadian Mennonites From The Reformation To The Present, an ESL/Literacy workbook used in classrooms across Canada and in teacher training programs. In 2016 it became the basis for her thesis, The Peace Seekers: An ESL/Literacy Curriculum Development Project (Unpublished, Providence University College). Charity’s texts appear in the acclaimed Canadian composer Carol Ann Weaver’s musical offerings: Earth Peace, and subsequent Earth Voices. Charity performed with Carol Ann at the 2015 Mennonite World Conference in Lancaster, PA. Charity’s articles have appeared in numerous publications, including Among Worlds.

Since 2005 Charity and John have lived in the DRC where they collaborate with the Communauté Mennonite du Congo. She provides leadership for 4C (Creating Capacity in Communities of Congo), an NGO co-founded by John and herself along with Congolese friends. She is an active member in the Mutuelle Tshokwe, a civil association whose goal is to promote the culture and development of the Chokwe people, who span south central Africa like a belt in twelve countries from the east to west coasts of Africa. She is a frequent public speaker and has appeared live on Congo television and radio interviews.

© 2018 Hope4Congo

Before the Throne, Part 2

After this I looked, and there before me
was a great multitude that no one could count,
from every nation, tribe, people and language,
standing before the throne
and before the Lamb.
They were wearing white robes
and were holding palm branches in their hands.

Revelation 7:9

Musende’s Last Visit, Chapter 1
by Charity (Eidse) Schellenberg

“I can’t walk!” Pastor Athanase Musende’s voice on the other end of the call was quiet, yet urgent that week before Easter of 2012.

Helpless in the face of his troubling medical condition and the distance separating us, I could only appeal to the Great Physician.

“We’ll pray for you,” I offered, overwhelmed with the significance of the fact he had called me. Two years of trying to get help for him had not yielded the results we had hoped for. He was suffering from severe heart disease.

“Thank you,” he said simply, then the call was dropped.

I tried again and again to call back, but couldn’t make the connection between Kinshasa, where I was, and Pastor Musende in Kamayala.

My friendship with Musende began in our childhood.

I was born and raised by my Canadian missionary parents Ben and Helen Eidse, who were serving in Kahemba, D. R. Congo, among the Chokwe-Lunda people.

Athanase Musende was raised in the home of his uncle, Pastor Wayindama, a pastor colleague of my parents.

Musende and I shared a love of soccer and volleyball, which we played every afternoon. We also sang the beloved Chokwe sacred songs together.

In 2005, when I returned to Congo for the first time after 32 years, together with my husband John, we reconnected in Kamayala, where Musende served as pastor. Among many other positions of leadership in the mission and church, Musende was known as the historian and expert of all things regarding Chokwe culture and language. He was also an expert in Anabaptist theology. He knew all the original pastors—their gifts and works.

He knew all the numbers for all the songs in the Chokwe hymnal, although he didn’t need to use the hymnal because he knew all the words by heart.

I can still see his serene smile as he closed his eyes and tilted his head back slightly to sing. From a place deep in his soul he projected the words in his clear beautiful voice.

Prior to this phone conversation, we spoke often to Pastor Musende about his feet and heart. We were very concerned that he be cured, and we contributed to his care. When he came to Kinshasa in search of help, we had the opportunity to spend a lot of time together, in church, the community, in our home, and in the home of our pastor Damien and Sylvie where Musende stayed.

In 2010 we brought my father, Ben Eidse, and my sisters, Hope and Faith, to Congo to memorialize my mother, Helen, after her death. It had been 28 years since my father had been in Congo.

Musende was among the considerable group that came to the airport to welcome my father and sisters. The reunion was a foretaste of heaven as the stories surfaced. Every day people hung out at our home to comfort us and grieve together, as well as be transported on euphoric wings in fellowship together.

The last time we saw Musende was in Kikwit in a providential encounter. My husband was the contractor building a bank and a service station in Kikwit.

Musende and his wife were just returning from Vanga, where they had spent some time at the Baptist hospital. We saw them walking down the road and gave them a lift to the home where they would pass the night before continuing on to Kahemba/Kamayala the next day.

He was very sick, especially after his grueling travel that day, squeezed into the back of a bush taxi. Yet, he was upbeat about his trust in God.

The unexpected gift of seeing one another was a balm to all our souls. We basked in the deep love we enjoyed for one another.

But now, his urgent phone call had been lost and I couldn’t reach him.

Later I was able to speak on the phone with Wenyi Nzey’, an elder of the congregation. I asked about Pastor Musende. “Can he walk?”

“He’s still walking, but with difficulty,” said Wenyi.

_________________________

Join us for part 2 of Pastor Athanase Musende’s story on March 8, 2018

Author’s Partial Biography:
Charity (Eidse) Schellenberg, M.A. was born in 1956 to Canadian parents Ben and Helen Eidse, in Kahemba, D. R. Congo, and was raised among the Chokwe-Lunda people, along with sisters, Hope, Faith and Grace. She later married John Schellenberg in Manitoba, Canada. They have lived with their three children in Burkina Faso, in a traditional Senufo village where they served two terms with Africa Inter-Mennonite Mission, sent by the Canadian conference of the Evangelical Mennonite Church.

© 2018 Hope4Congo

Before the Throne, Part 1

After this I looked, and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and before the Lamb. They were wearing white robes and were holding palm branches in their hands.
Revelation 7:9

_____________________________

A few weeks ago we shared the dramatic story of Pastor Wayindama. You may remember the wisdom he displayed as he was able to intervene for the safety of the missionaries and of the seminary students during the political unrest of 1962. If you have not read that story yet, please feel free to click on the link provided on his name.

We would like to honor Wayindama further. So today we’ll share a brief summary of the rest of his story.

First it must be noted that Wayindama was identified as a very gifted and wise young man. He was appointed as a teacher in Mutalawanga and later in Kamayala. Through a competition he was selected as one of the best candidates to continue his studies at the Kalonda Bible Institute, where he later became a professor.

At that time (1940-50s) many Congolese with limited Biblical training became pastors based on the missionaries’ esteem and recommendation. Wayindama was the first pastor in the territory of Kahemba with extensive Biblical training. Missionary witnesses believe it was his solid training that contributed greatly to the growth of his strong and peaceful personality.

Wayindama contributed to the translation of the Bible into local languages, specifically he was part of the translation team of the Chokwe Bible. Preaching in the local trade language was not enough. He believed Christians needed to read the Bible in their native tongue, which would allow them to meditate on the word of God in their heart language. This in turn would help strengthen and deepen their faith.

Christianity should belong to each community.
It should not be a foreign object if it is to take root
in the culture, morals, and ideas of the people.

Witnesses reported Wayindama went anywhere the church needed him. He put himself completely at the service of his fellows. The local church in Kandala gave him credit as the pioneer of the orientation course at the missionary station. In his leadership role he also inspired many young leaders.

During Wayindama’s lifetime, the church did not pay much attention to the material needs of the Congolese men and women who responded to the call of Christ. These dear ones often served at the peril of their health, because they lacked transportation.

Because Pastor Wayindama belonged to the class of the wise, he was called on repeatedly to settle or arbitrate conflicts. He traveled great distances on bicycle or on foot.

In spite of his difficulties, he did not become discouraged. In all his prayers he repeated in song, “Lord, it’s you whom I ask for strength.”

In 1991 Wayindama died at age sixty-five. Pastor Athanase Musende was one of those who sat beside him in the last moments before his death. Musende and the other witnesses affirmed they had witnessed the death of a pious man.

Surely Wayindama will be one of the multitude standing before the throne.
____________________________

We at Hope4Congo agree with Wayindama. Bibles need to be translated into the heart language of the people/their tribal languages. It is why we focus so much of our work on this effort: the Bible Project.

If we are able to put God’s Word into their hands,
God will put it into their hearts.

Feel free to also read these two blog posts about this work: New Bible Translation and Bible Distribution Project.

If you follow our blog regularly, you also know, with your help we were recently able to make it easier for one pastor/evangelist to fulfill his role through the purchase of a motorcycle: Meet Saraphin Kutumbana.

If you would like to contribute to the work, please utilize the information below:

Donations are tax-deductible. We’re all volunteers here at Hope 4 Congo. No one receives any compensation. Make your checks payable to: AIMM or Africa Inter-Mennonite Mission

Designate your donation to: Hope 4 Congo and indicate which project you wish to support
Example: “I would like this donation to be given to Hope 4 Congo for the Bible project.”
Check our PROJECTS page for additional suggestions.

Send your tax-deductible U.S. Dollar Donations to:
Africa Inter-Mennonite Mission (AIMM)
P.O. Box 744
Goshen, IN 46527-0744

Send your tax-deductible Canadian Dollar Donations to:
Africa Inter-Mennonite Mission (AIMM)
440 Main Street
Steinbach, MB R5G 1Z5

Our thanks to author, Vincent Ndandula; and to the Institute of Mennonite Studies (copyright 2012) and to the Institute for the Study of Global Anabaptism for the information we have shared about Wayindama’s life.

Please join us February 22 when we will share the story of Rev. Athanase Musende.

© 2018 Hope4Congo

New Bible Translation

We are excited to announce a new Bible translation planned for the Shilele language of the Bashilele people who live primarily in the Kasai river region.

Pastor Joly Birakara Ilowa (foreground on the left in photo above) of the Mennonite Church of Congo has taken the lead of this endeavor along with a team of local translators. They are working with Wycliffe Associates using the MAST program to accomplish this translation.

MAST represents Mobilized Assistance Supporting Translation, a new program which was first piloted in 2014, which empowers the global church to draft their own Bible within months rather than years.

“Our breakthrough MAST strategy is accelerating Bible translation beyond anything we could have imagined, even a couple of years ago,” says Bruce Smith of Wycliffe Associates. “It is not Westerners doing the translation work in remote areas—it’s nationals being equipped to translate God’s Word themselves.”

The MAST Bible translation workshops have seen great success with many language groups and the Shilele language is another success in the making.

Hope for Congo has made a significant investment in this project and we have other languages that are in dire need of translation and printing.

To date Hope for Congo has been able to purchase and distribute 10,000 Bibles into the hands of those who desperately want and need a Bible. This includes both pastors and lay people. Your prayers and financial support make all this possible. Thank you for partnering with us.© 2017 Hope4Congo