Elda Hiebert

Elda Hiebert, a retired missionary midwife, went home to Jesus on December 13th. As a child in rural Goessel she attended the Tabor Church. Frank Manning, a missionary with a big booming voice, told exciting stories that influenced her decision to be a missionary.

After her training and education, Elda began her service in 1964. Her first term was a troubling time for missionaries. What courage it must have taken for a single woman to be on the field during that time of revolt.

Carolyn Graber (sister to Brad and Stan) recalled meeting Elda for the first time. “I was in eighth grade. Following Christmas break, my siblings and I had traveled to Mukedi to board a Missionary Aviation plane for the return trip to boarding school. The evening before we were to leave, the missionaries gathered to share a meal and discuss the looming dangers. I was introduced to Elda, my new missionary aunt.

“I was so scared about leaving my parents and worried about what might happen at the mission station. Yet here was this new missionary Aunt Elda, a single lady who had come to Mukedi to serve as a nurse. She was a kind and attractive young woman whose bravery I admired.”

During that time of uncertainty Elda later told family members that rebels burned villages, killed their own people, and government officials.

She described house arrest, slipping past soldiers and rebels as well as viewing the destruction as she escaped. Elda said, “I thought of the prayer group with Mother and Helen Janzen praying for missionaries and I knew their prayers were being answered that day.”

Among her duties as a missionary midwife, Elda not only delivered many hundreds of Congolese babies, she also taught a six-month midwifery course to the African women. She and others taught child and maternal health, medicine use, and how to assist in the birth of a baby. She proudly stated, “We also had a Bible Class taught by our hospital chaplain.”

During her last term, Elda helped to start a four-year nursing school. She acquired letters from a local doctor, her church leadership, and permission from government offices to go to diamond buyers in Tshikapa to solicit funding.

Word must have spread among the populace. One day Elda encountered six to eight young men. She was aware they’d been watching her. One tried to intimidate her by tripping her. However, Elda looked at him and greeted him. He backed off.

“In the end I got 1,000,025 Ziares (local currency). God was with us in many times and ways, and many circumstances. He is faithful.”

That nursing school opened in 1989. God was indeed faithful to her and through her service.

For Elda Hiebert’s complete obituary and service details please visit Petersen’s Funeral Home website: http://petersenfamilyfuneralhome.com/obituaries/elda-ruth-hiebert/
If this link fails for any reason, please copy and paste it into your browser.

Memorial Service: 11:00 a.m. Friday, December 20, Zion Mennonite Church, Elbing, KS

© 2019 Hope4Congo

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

Why Jesus Came, Part 3

Forgiveness, Reconciliation & Restoration
Behind this Joyous Woman Lies the Valley Across from Kandale

Today’s post is the last of a three-part series we’re running this week for our Christmas special. To re-read the previous posts or to read posts you may have missed, please click on Part 1 and/or Part 2 as needed.

When Brad and Stan visited Kandale in October they carried the following letter from their mother addressed to the people there. In the years since 1963-64 the spelling has changed from Kandala to Kandale. Although the spelling has changed, her love for those she served has not.


To the followers of Jesus at Kandala and my sisters and brothers in Christ:
May God’s mercy, love, and grace be your daily experience as you live to serve Him.

In God’s providence, my husband, Muambi Muoyila, my youngest daughter Jeannette, and I, Mama Mbuyi along with the Bertsches and Selma Unruh came to live at Kandala. It was 1963 and there was unrest in the area. This culminated in the destruction of buildings and the cessation of our ministry there in 1964. Our lives were threatened, but God miraculously spared us from what seemed certain death. God gave us His peace in the days that we were held captive.

During those days we experienced the love of God through the hands and feet of Christians who brought food to us, braving the wrath of our captors. They pleaded for our lives and they wept with us for gladness at finding that we were alive after a night of terror. The pastor took a severe beating as he tried to intercede for us.

The Bible Institute students who had come from all of the AIMM stations had to leave with their families and make the long trek back to their home villages. They and the local residents suffered greater loss than the missionaries who were taken out by helicopter.

As God alone can do, He turned this experience into blessing. We felt His comforting presence with us and He brought to our minds many scriptures that reassured us of His care. So through this experience my faith has grown. What is retained in my memory are the blessings we received from those who love and follow God. I am so grateful for their faithfulness and their courage during that difficult time.

My heart is filled with love for each one of you. How I wish I could express this to you personally. May the Spirit of God assure you today that we are one in Christ who offers forgiveness to each one of us.

“God is able to bless you abundantly so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work.” May this great promise from 2 Corinthians 9:8 bless and prosper you in your faith.

In fellowship always,
Gladys Graber (Mama Mbuyi)


Mrs. Graber also sent this prayer with her sons: Words seem so inadequate to express what I’d like to convey! I hope your presence there will overcome this inadequacy as healing and love prevail.


Amen and Praise the Lord, Mama Mbuyi! Your prayer was answered.

May you, our dear readers also find forgiveness and healing in your relationships so that the love of God may prevail in your hearts and lives this blessed Christmas. Christ came to restore broken relationships: first our relationship with God and second, the relationships we have with each other. Praise be to God for this greatest gift of Christmas!

© 2017 Hope4Congo

Why Jesus Came, Part 1

Missionaries, Republique du Congo, circa 1964

At this wonderful time of year we celebrate Christ coming to earth—Emmanuel—God with us. Sometimes amid all the glittering lights, festivities, and way too much food, we lose sight of the reason he came.

As I prepared the blog post for this month I re-read Pastor Harold Graber’s detailed account of the horrific events of 1963-64 at what was known as the Kandala Mission Station. Then I came across the story of Pastor Emmanuel Wayindama during those same days. Finally, I re-read the letter that Gladys Graber sent with her sons, Brad and Stan for their trip to Kandale in October of this year. (Kandala and Kandale refer to the same location; the current spelling is now Kandale.)

Through studying these three documents I was struck by the enormity of the healing, which has occurred this year in Kandale. This is all an illustration of why Jesus came to earth in the first place—to restore relationships. And when I say, restore relationships, I mean first our relationship with God and second with each other.

To sense the full magnitude of the miraculous healing, you also need the opportunity to read these original documents. Following is Part 1 of the story, Pastor Graber’s letter, dated March 1964.


Dear Friends at Home,

In the past weeks we have been forcefully reminded of two truths of God’s Word . . . the world will hate you (we tasted of this in our experience at Kandala) and the Lord your God has been with you; you have lacked nothing.

During our ordeal with the terrorists we drew strength from the sure knowledge of His presence. All we had was swept away so suddenly, yet we have lacked nothing! Missionary co-workers and dear African friends have so graciously met our needs.

Until now we have found it difficult to put our experience in writing and yet we knew that many loved ones and friends at home wanted to know about it. Now our minds and hearts are rested . . . also, we have found temporary residence after so many weeks of living in with others.

When we arrived at Kandala station along with the Bertsche family and Miss Selma Unruh in mid-September we found a warm reception. The task of re-opening this station that had had no missionaries since July, 1960, was great. So many things needed our attention. We were also opening our Bible Institute. The challenge was great. We paid little heed to the rumors reaching us of Jeunesse activities as early as mid-October. These were always at places some distance from Kandala and we were always told there was no local organized Jeunesse.

Late November and December the movement was gathering momentum. We heard of school directors being killed, the police commissioner at Gungu, 35 miles away, was murdered. An attack was made on a key ferry between Kandala and Kikwit. Local government posts and chiefs were being attacked at night. The buildings were burned and many were beaten or killed.

Our Bible Institute students, many of whom came from other areas and tribes, became apprehensive and asked to be evacuated. However, thus far we had heard of no move by the Jeunesse against Protestant Mission stations.

The night of January 15 our local state post was burned only 2 kilometers from our station. The following day it was nearly impossible to conduct classes. Everywhere one looked on the station one saw people walking with huge burdens on their heads—they were leaving the area or taking their things to be buried in some hiding place. The government personnel were fleeing their posts.

The next morning, Saturday, a truck load of soldiers came on the station asking for gas. They said they were making an inspection tour of the area. Moments after their departure our local ferry was cut and set adrift on the Kwilu River. Now our route of evacuation was cut off. We had hourly contact by shortwave radio with Mukedi and Nyanga stations. It was a very tense day.

The executive secretary, Mr. Vernon Sprunger, flew over in a MAF plane (Missionary Aviation), later landing at Gungu, and was picked up by Mr. Bertsche whom we had called home from a meeting at Tshikapa. The MAF plane checked on a vital bridge which we had heard was wrecked—then dropped a note to Mr. Bertsche in the road telling him that the bridge was still intact.

Sunday, Mr. Sprunger met with all of us and the Institute students encouraging us to stay, and “sit tight.” Monday night we witnessed the burning of our secteur post across the river. All one could feel these days was tension. Many people continued to move their belongings, some sent their families to distant villages, many came requesting to sleep at the missionary homes.

Monday, Loyal Schmidt and Charles Sprunger arrived having had to drive a long way around to reach our station and through an area that was “hot”. Mr. Schmidt, having previously served at Kandala came to be of assistance during this difficult time, particularly with obtaining food for the Institute. Mr. Sprunger came to install a transistor transmitter, in case the Jeunesse would damage our motor used for the other transmitter. This was no time to lose radio contact!

Our Institute students seemed in better spirits Tuesday. Classes went on normally. Perhaps they felt enough had been done by the Jeunesse in our area and they would move on, or perhaps they felt relieved when the pastor told us that the Jeunesse had surrounded the station the night before but their leader, a protestant, had convinced them to leave the station alone.

Loyal and Charles left in the morning to take Vernon Sprunger to Gungu to meet the MAF plane. They were due back at Kandala that afternoon. They never made it. Just outside of Gungu on their return they were captured and their vehicle overturned and set afire.

Being very tired after so little rest the past nights we were hoping to retire early Tuesday night. Just as we were ready to go to bed we heard shouts and cries from the nearby Christian village. Looking out we saw flames leaping skyward as all the huts were set aflame. We fled from the house. Jeanette (our youngest child) began to cry.

Next-door at Bertsches we hastily decided the only thing we could do would be to go to the pastor’s home just a few yards away. By this time we heard the windows of the house and the car windows being smashed and saw near naked figures setting fire to our home. There were so many of these youths that almost everything was set aflame simultaneously. Next we saw the homes of the Institute families and the school going up in flames.

It didn’t take them long to find us. As this large group of frenzied youth approached us the pastor and his wife disappeared into the darkness. She was weeping.

Soon we found ourselves surrounded. Some had their bows and arrows drawn, others had large corn knives poised in the air. They shouted at us and pushed us around. They grabbed glasses off our faces and watches from our arms. Some grabbed off clothing, others hurled it back at us. They ordered us to take off our shoes as well as socks and they hacked them to pieces with a vengeance. Time and again they said, “Let’s kill them,” but always another of the group would restrain the others.

The Lord gave us a calmness that was not of ourselves. Most remarkable was the peace given us by Jeanette’s behavior. She was terribly frightened, but she hid her face in her daddy’s shoulder and in a little tune she sang over and over, “Jesus, Jesus, Jesus.”

The Lord brought to my mind words that I had read hours earlier that evening, Thou shalt not be afraid for the terror by night; nor for the arrow that flieth by day; nor for the pestilence that walketh in darkness.

Now they were demanding that we give them gas. We moved in a group towards the garage and motor house. These buildings were already smoking. They placed us in a tight little circle and said, “Don’t move.”

They proceeded to set the grass afire around us. I noticed one had a length of clothesline in his hand. I wondered if we were now to be burned alive or if they were going to hang us. Now I felt we were committed to death and I prayed only for our four precious children who would survive us. Who would care for them? (The Grabers other children, including Stan and Brad, were at the missionary boarding school.)

We realized, fleetingly, that God does give grace to face a martyr’s death.

Suddenly, the leader addressed his “comrades” and ordered them not to follow him and he led us away towards the girls’ compound buildings. Here he ordered us to sit on the grass, and then with a strange solicitude, noticing it was wet with dew, he found a mat and put it down for us. We thought we were to spend the night there, but soon we were told that we could all go to Selma’s house, which was still untouched. He said, “You can stay there until you find a way to leave.”

We thanked him and we were led to Selma’s house. This refuge was ours for scarcely 15 minutes when another group came and ordered us out, saying that we must stand trial in the village. They now proceeded to set Selma’s house aflame also. They pushed and shoved us down the path past the burning buildings.

Soon two figures clad in white approached us. What a contrast they were to the nearly naked and armed warriors surrounding us! These were our two mission medical workers from the dispensary. They asked to take us to the dispensary and at first were firmly denied their request. Finally, after a long discussion, they were given permission to put us in the dispensary. Though we were exhausted, sleep was impossible.

Some time later, the mission carpenter and chauffeur came in. They had removed their shirts and cut off their trousers to disguise themselves as Jeunesse. They fell down before us on the floor weeping. At last, when they could speak they said, “Are you really safe? We thought you’d be killed.”

Now that they knew we were safe they went out in search of the Institute families. Soon they came back to let us know they had found them all. As morning dawned one by one the students came. They were unable to speak, but their tears and the expressions on their faces spoke volumes. A new bond had been formed between all of us. Christian friends ministered to our needs in every way they possibly could in the next three days. This was a new experience . . . having them serve us!

When other stations could not contact us by radio they knew something was wrong and MAF was alerted to fly over the station. Meanwhile, we were much concerned about Charles and Loyal. Wednesday night in the midst of a pouring rainstorm the dispensary door burst open and a crowd of Jeunesse came in. Among their group were Charles and Loyal. What a relief to see them! They were stiff and sore having had to travel some 30 miles on foot with their hands tied behind their backs.

Thursday morning, quite early, MAF flew over. The pilot was able to radio from the plane directly to Leopoldville. The Embassy there had already been contacted. He dropped two notes to us, first asking us if we could make an emergency landing strip. Since no Jeunesse authority was immediately available to ask permission, we could not answer the pilot. Then he asked us to sit on the ground if we wanted a helicopter. This we did as we felt it was our only means of rescue.

When the plane left several Jeunesse leaders approached us immediately and tore at our clothing wanting to find the tiny transistor that had called the plane. Patiently we explained why the plane had come. We asked permission to make the airstrip and it was granted.

They thrust hoes into our hands and ordered us to make it ourselves, forbidding the Institute students to help us. However, after we had cleared the first 100 meters they did allow the students to help us complete the other 200 meters.

When the airstrip was completed, we sat down to wait. We fully expected rescue before nightfall. More youths were arriving on the station grounds all the time. We felt we could not endure another night.

What if soldiers should arrive? They had told us countless times that if soldiers came we would be killed instantly. They also told us that if any soldiers came on the planes coming to get us we wouldn’t be allowed to go and all would be killed and the plane burned.

Once again, we had to patiently explain to them what we were doing and gain their approval as we took rolls of bandages and laid out a large sign both in English and French to warn the pilots of their threats. The sign read: OK TO LAND. PILOT ONLY, NO GUNS, SOLDIERS, SAFETY ASSURED.

Nightfall came and no plane. It seemed we couldn’t bear another night in that place. The Lord brought to my mind and heart the words, Be still and know that I am God.

The area president of the movement was now on the station and he assured us that no harm would come to us through the night. He even posted a sentry outside the dispensary so groups wouldn’t disturb us as they had the other nights.

The next day, Friday near noon we heard the welcome sound of UN helicopters. What a relief it was to get on board without incident and be on our way to Tshikapa where our fellow missionaries were anxiously awaiting our arrival. We shall always be grateful to the UN who so nobly came to our assistance.

However, our UN friends had only just begun their rescue work in the Kwilu. Many missionaries were in grave danger and there were many stations where rescue was not performed as easily as at Kandala. Tragically, at Mangungu two brave ladies signified they wanted an airlift, but the UN arrived too late.

When we were safely deposited at Tshikapa the UN planes returned to airlift the Institute families. However, the families had all started out by foot feeling they just couldn’t wait for the planes to return.

Wayindama, one of the Kandala pastors (look for more information about this dear man in the next post) accompanied them on their five-day trip through this hostile area to the Luange River. The Lord was with them in a wonderful way. When they had safely crossed the Luange River after many hazardous experiences they sat down together for a Praise and Prayer Service, singing hymns and reading from the book of Joshua. The pastor then bade them goodbye and returned whence he had come. Let us pray for him and all the dear Christians in the Kwilu.

We are grateful that God’s grace is sufficient. We are grateful for the gift of life and for His divine protection over our lives amid the forces of evil. We are grateful for the serenity He gives in times of peril. We are grateful for the Holy Spirit, His comfort, His guidance, and for the counsel and comfort of fellow believers, many of them Congolese.

Good friends and Christian brothers, Chief Banditu and Pastor Graber

We would rest in the sure knowledge that our future is in His care. We would trust Him to guide us in the decisions we must make. We would ask of Him, grace to follow Him step-by-step, and day-by-day, rather than clamoring to know the end from the beginning. May we know that He will withhold no good thing for we are heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ.

Yours in His glad service,
Harold Graber
(Note: This letter has been slightly edited where necessary for clarity.)


Please join us this coming Wednesday for the story of Pastor Emmanuel Wayindama.

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