Road Trip, Part 7

H4C_18Brad and Stan are trapped at the banks of the Kasai River. A drunken policeman and his equally drunken buddies block their way. Dr. David and youth from the church at Ndjoko Punda (the village across the river) are arguing with the policeman. Stan and Brad have sat down to wait under a tree. We pick up our story as the argument has escalated.

The babble of voices increased to higher decibels as several of the youth joined in the shouting match. Tempers flared. Arms flailed in excited gestures. Enraged shrieks split the night air.

“This is going nowhere fast,” Brad said. “What are we going to do?”

“Yes. It’s dangerous.” Stan thought a moment. “What would Dad do? He’d pray.” Stan rose and stood just outside the angry group. In a loud voice he said in Tshiluba, “Let us pray.”

The arguing ceased instantly. Silence. Startling after so much noise.

Stan continued in Tshiluba, “Lord, we’ve just made a long trip. We’re hot. We’re sweaty. And we’re tired. We’ve come to help the church at Ndjoko Punda and encourage the believers there. We just want to get to the other side of this river so we can go to bed and get some sleep. We know that YOU are all powerful and YOU can solve this problem and get us to the other side. Amen.”

Hushed, the policeman and his friends stepped aside like a parting of the Red Sea.

Dr. David smiled. Brad clapped Stan on the shoulder. They boarded the canoe with all the young men and slipped silently across the river to the village.


True stories of God’s deliverance help put daily frustrations into perspective for me.

What about you? What’s happening in your life today? Don’t allow a small problem to get in the way of a big God. Reach for the fire from heaven.

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©2015 Hope4Congo

Road Trip, Part 6

Kasai River

It’s after 2:00 a.m.
Stan and Brad are exhausted from their long jarring road trip. They have finally arrived at the Kasai River across from their desired destination, Ndjoko Punda. Dr. David and several young men are ready to take them across the river in their canoe. Only one problem….

The young men from the village were almost finished packing the canoe when the policeman came. His drinking buddies trailed behind. Together the men formed a line, blocking Stan and Brad’s way to the river.

In a drunken drawl, the policeman yelled a demand. “Let me see your papers!”

“You don’t need to see their papers. These men are the children of former missionaries. They’ve come to help our village. They’ve brought supplies for the hospital,” Dr. David said.

“Are you interfering with me?” The policeman bellowed his question. He waved the doctor aside.

Stan and Brad produced their papers.

The policeman staggered over to the fire. He squinted at the papers in the flickering light. Teetering unsteadily, he returned to them. “State your business here.”

“We’ve brought supplies for the hospital at Ndjoko Punda.” Stan’s voice was quiet and respectful. Brad nodded his agreement.

Dr. David spoke again, “Alright, you’ve seen their papers. Now let them pass. We need to get these men to the village.”

“You can’t go across the river tonight,” the officer said. “The river is rushing too wildly. It isn’t safe to cross at night.”

One of the church youth flung his arms outward. “It isn’t safe to stay here at night.”

“These men are my guests.” The doctor stepped between the policeman and the brothers. “We’ll get them safely across.”

Four of the policeman’s sidekicks surrounded David.

“He’s the policeman!” one of the sidekicks shouted.

Another man screeched in a high-pitched voice, “He’s in charge! You have to do what he says.”

“That’s right. You need his permission to do anything!” a third comrade hollered.

A fourth man rubbed his fingers together. “Yes. Permission. You need permission.”

Stan and Brad collapsed under a tree as the argument continued.

“They want money,” Brad said. “And lots of it.”

“Yep.” Wearily, Stan rested his elbows on his knees. “All the authority, but no pay. It’s no surprise they depend on bribes to feed their families. A drowning man will grab at anything that comes along,” he quoted the Congolese saying.

Brad fanned his face with his hat. “I think he’s taking his courage from the bottle and his buddies.” He leaned against the tree. “I’m beat. A whole day just to get to the river. Now this.”

The babble of voices increased to higher decibels as several of the youth joined in the shouting match. Tempers flared. Arms flailed in excited gestures. Enraged shrieks split the night air.

“This is going nowhere fast,” Brad said. “What are we going to do?”

What would you do if you were in this situation?

Join us next Thursday to see what Stan and Brad do.
©2015 Hope4Congo

Road Trip, Part 5

H4C.Kasai.Ndjoko.PundaToday we start part 5 of the journey Stan and Brad took to Ndjoko Punda along with their driver and his mechanic. They are all exhausted from the difficult journey.

About 2:00 a.m. they pulled up a quarter mile from the Kasai River. What little road or track they had followed previously now ended completely.

Stan and Brad grabbed their backpacks and walked the remaining distance to the river. The steamy night air pressed heavy on them. The whole jungle felt like a giant sauna. No escape from the oppressive heat and humidity.

Brad took his hat off and fanned his face. It was the only breeze in the stifling air.

A short distance down river a Congolese policeman and several of his friends gathered around a large fire. They passed a bottle. One of the men fell over. The rest of the circle burst into raucous laughter.

The Kasai River roared past at the bottom of the embankment. Swollen from the rainy season, the wide river was treacherous. A group of young men lounged beside a thirty-foot canoe pulled up on the muddy bank.

A tall thin youth ran toward Stan and Brad. “It’s them, Dr. David. They’re here,” he called over his shoulder in Tshiluba.

Tshiluba, the language of the brothers’ childhood—its rhythm and pitch resonated with their souls. Like a welcome breeze, it rushed over them and refreshed their weary spirits. They were nearly home.

Dr. David came forward. “My brothers! I was getting worried you wouldn’t make it through tonight.”

“It was a long hard drive. We’re bone-tired, but we’re here.” Stan stretched out his hand.

Dr. David grasped it and pulled Stan into a hug. “So good to have you come back to us. God has answered our prayers for your safety.”

“He’s also answered our prayers. We’ve brought all the medical supplies you asked for,” Stan said.

David hugged Brad, too. He grinned broadly at both of the men. “We are honored you have come back to us.”H4C.Kasai.Canoes

Fifteen Congolese young men surrounded them. Brilliant white teeth flashed a welcome from their dark faces.

The doctor gestured toward the youths. “I’ve brought good workers from our church to help. Come boys. Let’s get everything loaded into the canoe.”

The young men chattered as they returned with all the bundles. They were almost finished packing the canoe when the policeman came. His drinking buddies trailed behind. Together the policeman and his friends formed a line, blocking Stan and Brad’s way to the river.

In a drunken drawl, the policeman yelled a demand. “Let me see your papers!”

“You don’t need to see their papers. These men are the children of former missionaries. They’ve come to help our village. They’ve brought supplies for the hospital,” Dr. David said.

“Are you interfering with me?” The policeman bellowed his question. He waved the doctor aside.

What do you think will happen? Why does the policeman want to see their papers? We’d love to hear from you. Join us next Thursday for Part 6.

Quick call to prayer:   Just saw a prayer request from the Congo Leadership Network.

12004675_10153630140289473_3460302600411861859_nOne of their coaching team members, Albert Mulamba in Tshikapa, Congo was returning from a meeting of provincial church leaders on Sunday – where among other things he was sharing with them about the Congo Leadership Coaching Network – when a drunk man stepped in front of his motorbike. The man’s head cut a large and deep gash in Albert’s face (Albert was wearing a helmet, but not a face guard).

He received internal and external stitches and is now at home recovering. Apparently the drunk man, while undoubtedly bruised, was largely unhurt and stumbled off. Albert, on the other hand, was left bleeding profusely from the face and somehow got himself to a clinic where he could receive help. He now describes his whole body as racked with pain. Thanks for keeping him in your prayers.

Silver lining here: Fortunately his wife Aberty just returned to Tshikapa from Kinshasa where she was with the rest of their family and had planned to stay through Christmas. Now she’s returned just in time to take care of Albert.

You may remember our story about Albert titled, “A Lonely Ride.”

©2015 Hope4Congo

Road Trip, Part 4

Last week we left Stan and Brad on the road to Ndjoko Punda. Due to the poor road conditions, their driver (nicknamed Forty-five) has only been able to drive at approximately two miles per hour. The pickup truck has been struggling to make the journey. It’s a good thing the driver has a mechanic with him. We continue our story here with Part 4 of the road trip.

Steam rolled from under the hood. “What is this now?” the driver asked.

“We need water,” the mechanic said.

Forty-five, the driver, pulled to the side of the road. He and the mechanic took empty jugs back to the stream.

“Our water bottles are nearly empty. We’d better get some water, too,” Stan said.

When he and Brad reached the muddy stream, they lowered their bottles into the filthy water.

“I’m worried this muddy water might clog the filters,” Brad said.

Stan finished filling his bottle. “We need to find clearer fast-running water soon.”

The mechanic poured water into the radiator. It boiled over and hissed on the hot engine. He jumped back from the scalding water.

Village children laughed. They entertained each other, imitating the mechanic’s jump. He smiled good-naturedly.H4C_2

After the engine cooled enough to continue the journey, the pickup slowly followed the broken road around the village.

Two women pushed a large kettle onto a cooking fire. Several young girls hauled water from the stream and poured it in.

Brad shook his head. “It’s a hard life. Dirty water to cook with.”

“Yeah.” Stan wiped the sweat from his brow. “And cooking over an open fire in this heat.”

Brad reached for his water bottle. Took a swig. “Ugh! Lukewarm, but at least it’s safe.”

Stan nodded toward the group gathered around the cooking pot. “Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could get safe drinking water to everyone?”

H4C.Jeep.DashbdForty-five turned the wheel sharply to avoid a young child leading a goat. He hollered out the window. “Keep out of the road. And keep your goat out of the way, too. Or else we’ll have roast goat.”

Exhausted, the men pressed on. Night fell.

Brad stifled a yawn. “How much farther?”

“Long way.” Stan slumped against the door and closed his eyes. “Sure could use some sleep.”

“Good luck with that.” Brad squirmed. Another spring poked through the tattered back of the seat. It jabbed him between the shoulder blades.

Road Trip, Part 3

Some of the deep ruts in the washed out road.

This week we continue our story of the journey Stan and Brad took when they began this ministry. When we left them last week they were driving through poorly maintained roadways–more like sand traps with deep ruts made by six-wheel transport trucks wider than the Toyota’s wheelbase.

This portion of the story begins with Forty-five, their driver struggling to drive the old pickup through this sand. (A reminder: Stan nicknamed the driver Forty-Five because he always drove at a forty-five degree angle–first in the left rut, then right rut, then back again the whole journey.

Part III

Forty-five edged the vehicle to the top of the bank. More branches scratched the driver’s side. The truck skidded. Fishtailing, it sprayed dirt behind. An hour later he’d only driven three miles.

The left back wheel slipped, spun in the dirt. As Forty-five accelerated, the wheel dug deeper into the soft sand. He shifted into low gear, gunned the engine. Whirling deeper, the tire burrowed in, pulled them sideways. No use. They were stuck tight. Jungle brush on the driver’s side, sand pit on the other.

Stan leaned forward. “We’ll help push.”

Brad opened his door.

Forty-five grunted. “We push. No problem. You get out.”

Sliding down the steep slope, Stan and Brad stood out of the way.

The driver shouted at the mechanic. “Get back there and push.” He pointed at the passengers on the pickup bed. “You. Push!”

“I guess the paying customers don’t have to push,” Stan said.

Between the four men, they made it past this obstacle. With everyone back aboard they continued at a two-mile per hour pace.

Next they approached a river.

Grim-faced, the driver slowed, adjusted his welding gloves on the steering wheel. “This river bank looks steeper than the last one.” He nodded at the mechanic. “You’d better find me a safe way through this.”

The mechanic rolled up his pants. He sloshed through the water for several yards, tested its depth, then gestured for the driver to follow.

This photo was taken of a different trip, but it illustrates the story well.

Inching along, Forty-five edged the truck down the slope into the stream bed. They bounced and jerked over the rocks in the water. As the pickup shuddered up the opposite bank, children with sticks and primitive tools ran out to greet them.

Brad glanced ahead. “I think our road repair crew has arrived.”

Stan laughed.

“Should we give them anything?” Brad asked “That is, if they actually do fill any of the holes.”

Enjoying their game, the children made a half-hearted effort to push the dirt around.

“They’re going to have to do a better job than that for me to part with another franc,” Stan said.

“No pay.” The driver growled in the rear view mirror. Shouting through his open window, he shook his gloved fist at the children.

Steam rolled from under the hood.

Forty-five braked. “What this now?”

©2015 Hope4Congo


Road Trip, Part 2

H4C.Toyota.BackLast week we began the story of a long journey. “Long” is a relative concept in Congo. Even though the distance is not that far, it may take a “long” time to reach your destination.

At 6:00 a.m. Stan and Brad met the driver and mechanic who were to take them to the Mission Station. We’ll pick up the story after the negotiations have ended.


Pascal grinned. “They will take good care of you. No problem.”

“No problem,” the mechanic echoed in French.

Stan pushed his cap back. “Well, I see a problem. There doesn’t seem to be any room left for all the stuff we’re taking to the mission station.”

“No problem. No problem.” The driver grabbed one of their parcels while the mechanic grabbed the others. They strapped it all down with ropes made from vines. Now the pile was four feet high.

The man with the chicken found another bundle to sit on.

Standing back, the driver and mechanic surveyed their handiwork.

“See? No problem,” the sober-faced driver said.

The mechanic grinned. “No problem.”

Stan and Brad shook hands with Pascal. They tossed their backpacks onto the floor of the king cab and gingerly lowered themselves onto the tattered backseats. The worn springs creaked beneath them.

The driver and his mechanic climbed in front. For the first ten miles outside Tshikapa, the road was government-maintained. They drove about thirty-five miles per hour.

The two brothers conversed quietly in English.

Brad propped his elbow on the open windowsill. “I wonder if the mission station is in worse shape than last year.”

“It sure was a shock. I expected Mom’s garden to be long gone after forty years, but I didn’t expect our home’s windows and screens to be gone.” Stan adjusted his position. A rusty spring poked through the torn leather seat.

“Boarded up windows. No air. No light.” Brad added.

“Still, I’m glad the village pastor and his family live there. At least they’re putting the place to good use,” Stan said.

“Do you ‘spose the village has kept up the maintenance on what we installed last year?” Brad asked.

Stan glanced out the window. “Guess we should prepare ourselves for what lies ahead.”

The road changed abruptly.

Their driver frowned. Slowing to a crawl, he leaned over the steering wheel, peering out the window. He
gripped the wheel tightly, still wearing his welding gloves.

Deep tire ruts created by the big transport trucks that frequented this road carved the ground as far as the eye could see. The ruts were wider than the wheelbase of the Toyota.

The driver angled the pick-up into the left rut. A little later he moved the truck into the right rut.

Brad nodded toward the driver. “Why do you ‘spose he’s wearing welding gloves?”

Stan shrugged. “Maybe he’s planning ahead. This old thing looks like it’s barely holding together. They’ll probably have to weld something sooner or later.”

They bounced through a deep gouge in the road. The truck creaked. The men on the truck bed shouted as they slid around.

The driver moved back to the left rut and then again to the right rut. Back and forth he continued—left rut, right rut, left rut. They were always traveling at a forty-five degree angle.

Stan adjusted his cap. “Do you think ‘ole Forty-five here, knows how to drive through this any other way except at an angle?”

Brad chuckled at Stan’s apt choice of nickname.

The driver glared at the brothers in his rear-view mirror. “Keep your arms in.” He pointed ahead to where the road narrowed. The brothers rolled up their windows as the truck brushed against the jungle vegetation. Branches scraped along the sides of the vehicle.

Safely past this spot, Forty-five swerved the Toyota to the left, avoiding a washout in the road.

Road? As if it could qualify for being called that. It was more like driving through a water-filled sand box. The engine sputtered a protest.

Forty-five braked. He pointed at the mechanic. “You walk ahead. Find a safe way for me to get around this.”

The mechanic climbed above the washed-out area. He gestured. “This way.”

Grinding the truck into four-wheel drive, Forty-five edged the vehicle to the top of the bank. More branches scratched the driver’s side. The truck skidded. Fishtailing, it sprayed dirt behind.

We’ll pick-up (no pun intended) our story next week. See you then.

©2015 Hope4Congo