December 2020 Update

Thank you for your patience as we’ve been in the process of upgrading our website.

Changes will continue since we wish to make our website more user-friendly. As part of the improvements to our website we’re updating our projects pages. Some will continue to be in working stages.

If you come across a blank space, please know that we’ll address each project eventually—but in the meantime—we’re cleaning out some old pages.

We’ll begin today with the Literature portion of our projects. Hope4Congo was founded because of the great needs the Grabers observed when they first returned to Congo in 2007.

Congo has so many needs it becomes difficult to address everything we see, just like addressing every project page on our website at once. We have to decide the most important things to address first. By far the biggest need in the DRC is the spiritual starvation of the country.

In my latest conversation with Brad, he said something that startled me:

“In the DRC, you could live your entire life without a Bible.”

Imagine . . .
If you were a Christian with no Bible and no Christian books or literature to nourish your soul.

Imagine . . .
If you were a pastor with no Bible or perhaps only a portion of the Bible from which to lead and shepherd your congregation.

But this isn’t imagination.

This is reality for the majority of believers in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Hope4Congo recently distributed 200 French Bibles to pastors in need. Either they had no Bible or the Bible they owned was not complete.

One pastor had a Bible that was missing Genesis through Numbers and Romans, beginning with chapter three, through Revelation. Obviously, this limited his teaching to small portions of the Bible. When he received his new Bible, his response was: “Now I can teach all the parts of the Bible!”

We’re so grateful we were able to distribute these Bibles through your generous help.

Here is more of what is on Brad’s heart:

“The Church in sub-Saharan Africa is growing faster than anywhere else in the world. The percentage of global Christians in Africa today is 26%.

“It is estimated that 40% of the world’s Christians will be living in Africa by the year 2060. Africa is set to become the global center of Christianity and yet the discipleship crisis in Africa deepens due to the lack of access to Bibles.

“In 2007 when we first went back to Congo, the estimated population was 50 – 60 million. In 2020, the population is 80 – 90 million; the estimated population for 2060 is 160 million people.

“We’re not keeping up with the need.”

If you’re a numbers person, you don’t need me to say any more. But if you’re like me, you need the numbers to be translated into what it means for that individual Congolese Christian:

-No daily nourishment through reading God’s Word
-No spiritual growth through reading God’s Word
-No discipleship or very little available if others do not have a Bible
-No personal encouragement for your day or your individual troubles

And perhaps most frightening of all—the possibility of deception.

An individual Christian might sense uneasiness in their spirit about a false teaching or false leadership. But without the clear guidance of God’s written word, some might be deceived or not know how to respond in a Biblical manner.

I rely on my Bible every day for all these things I’ve mentioned. I don’t know what I’d do without it.

This brings me back to Brad’s statement:
“You could live your entire life without a Bible.”

Think of that. I hope that statement bothers you as much as it does me.

This is Hope4Congo so I want to close with the HOPE we have in Christ Jesus. First, we are thankful, so we offer these prayers of thanksgiving followed by our prayer requests and ministry needs.

Thanksgiving
1. We thank God for the privilege of distributing 200 French Bibles to pastors without Bibles.
2. We thank God for the contributions from each of you that made it possible.
3. We thank God for other ministry partners, too.

Prayer Requests
*Pray for our DRC brothers and sisters in Christ who struggle to put food on the table and nourish their souls.
*Pray for the financial resources to give more Congolese access to Bibles and other Christian literature.
*Pray for this ministry and other ministry partners on our collaboration team.
*Ask God to guide your involvement with this ministry.

Financial Support – If God leads you to give, we pray you will . . .
+Give according to the measure God enables you.
+Give as an eternal investment in the kingdom of God.
+Give out of your grateful heart.
+Give because you know the abundant blessings provided every time you read your own Bible.
+Give because it breaks your heart to know another Christian could live their entire life without access to God’s Holy Word.

© Hope4Congo 2020, All Rights Reserved

April 19, 2020

Farming God’s Way
As part of our Congo Collaboration meeting we heard from a speaker who represented Farming God’s Way.

The speaker grabbed my attention immediately when he asked us all, “What do you have in your hand?”

He went on to expound. We may wish for a tractor, but instead of wasting our time wishing, we can provide for our families with what we have.

“What do you have in your hand?” He repeated.

“The answer is a hoe. We will use what we have and grow food to feed our families.”

Farming God’s Way seminars provide a well-balanced three-fold system utilizing Biblical principles combined with technology and good management. Results from the seminars are encouraging in several African countries. So much could be addressed if the cycle of poverty could be broken.

For more information click on the link. https://www.farming-gods-way.org/home.htm
In addition to the information on that website, you may also click on the FaceBook icon on the lower left of the page. You do not have to be a member of FaceBook to view their account. It is a good way to keep up with their activities.

Our first Farming God’s Way seminar in 2019 was well received and a second one is being planned for 2020.

Farm to Market
Our first Farm to Market program was at Ndjoko Punda. Read our previous blog post about it:
Farm to Market Project

Hope4Congo begins our second Farm to Market program in the Mukedi Community in the Bandundu Province of the DRC.

Prayer Requests
• Pray for all the details to come together for our second Farming God’s Way seminar.
• Pray for the Farm to Market launch at Mukedi.
• Pray for peace, good health, and willing hearts to learn.

© 2020 Hope4Congo

Rest in the Shadow of the Almighty

Brad shared the following message:

Those who live in the shelter of the Most High
will find rest
in the shadow of the Almighty.
~Psalm 91:1


The world is experiencing a particularly difficult situation with a deadly pandemic. This is a time of testing for our faith.

These trials will show that your faith is genuine (I Peter 1:7).

Is our faith a statement or an action? Faith acts upon the basis of our faith. God is the basis for our faith. When our faith remains strong it brings much praise and glory and honor to God.

The first responders that the world should be seeing at this time are the Church. Believers are in the best position to be first responders. We are the ones with protection. We are the ones with a message of comfort and hope.

Death does not take God by surprise. He is not caught off guard when someone dies “unexpectedly.” God will call us home when our journey is over, when we have accomplished all that He has intended for us to do (Ephesians 2:10). In the meantime we move about under the shadow of the Almighty.

I am encouraged when I hear from my brothers and sisters who are a part of the suffering church in the third world. That is truly where the rubber meets the road. My hope is renewed when they share their perspective with me.

Ancient people put their trust in horses and chariots rather than God to deliver them (Psalm 20:7).

We in America have so much we can fall back on. We, too, are tempted to misplace our trust just like those ancient people.

As believers, we must be in tune to this challenge. Where do we put our trust?

May God help us all  . . .

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present (our) requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard (our) hearts and (our) minds in Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:6-7).
__________________________________________________________________________________________

Thank you, Brad. We will continue to share more from our brothers and sisters in the DRC over future blog posts. In the meantime, please continue to pray for them.

© 2020 Hope4Congo

Nothing is Too Difficult for God

by Brad Graber

Hope for Congo participated in the annual Congo Collaboration meetings held in Goshen, Indiana, August 10-11, 2018. Collaboration is the new frontier in efforts to be obedient to the Great Commission: “Go and make disciples of all nations.”

From a human perspective Jesus’ instruction can seem an impossible task. And it would be—if it depended on us alone. But Jesus promised, “I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”

God does not ask us to do the impossible. He asks for our obedience to do what is possible.

As we are obedient to do the possible, God will do the impossible.

Medical Ambassadors shared about the CHE program at our Collaboration meetings on Friday and Saturday. CHE stands for Community Health Evangelism. This program, which is being implemented around the world, focuses on disease prevention measures and promotes healthy living. CHE’s emphasis on holistic health and evangelism is a good method for church planting. The program is built around community ownership and individual involvement.

Community Health Evangelism operates in the Kasai region of the DRC. Over 800 villages utilize the program successfully.

During the Medical Ambassadors presentation they referenced two books: Walking With the Poor  by Bryant Meyers, and Bursting the Wine Skins: The Holy Spirit’s Transforming Work in a Peacemaker and His World  by Michael Cassidy.

Oasis International presented their vision on Saturday. They seek to publish and distribute affordable Christian books and Bibles in English, French, and Portuguese—books designed for individual as well as societal transformation and that seek to give the African Church a global voice.

To produce the African Study Bible, Oasis International utilized 350 African contributors from 50 different countries. Looking at God’s Word through African eyes in this way has produced the most ethnically diverse biblical resource to date. The English edition was launched in 2017.

Access to the Word of God is the most important way to build transformational communities.

These two organizations: Oasis International and Medical Ambassadors reveal the power of collaboration and inspire us to continue our collaborative efforts here at Hope for Congo.

Greater technology is available to help spread the gospel. Billy Graham said, “The harvest fields are riper, the grain is thicker, and the instruments that technology has provided are sharper. I see no reason why we could not touch the entire youth population of the world with the good news of the Gospel—let’s make that our goal.”

Hope for Congo is focused on the next generation in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Let’s ask the Lord of the harvest to send more workers into His fields. Let’s be obedient in giving, praying, and going to the field as God gives us opportunity.

As we are obedient to do what is possible for us to do, God will do the impossible.

© 2018 Hope4Congo

Bamboo Bicycles, Part 1

Team in front of the new workshop, Khoma, DRC
Team in front of the new workshop, Khoma, DRC

We’ve written previously about the importance of bicycles to the Congolese people. Subsistence farm families use bicycles to transport items to market. For most rural people bicycles are the best way to deal with the poor road conditions in Congo. This gives them access to services, such as health care.

At Hope4Congo we are committed to keeping you informed about what other ministries are doing in Congo. The following excerpts are taken from the 2015 report on the Congo Transport to Market Bicycle Project. These excerpts have been edited for clarity on our website.

Project Goals
The bicycle project builds on lessons learned over the past five years of work.
• Supply their Congolese partner (UPDAP) with parts for up to 50 bamboo framed bicycles
• Provide training and instruction to establish quality production processes
• Develop a business model for small scale production in Congo

Project Leaders
Chuck Regier and Craig Calfee are the primary project leaders. They are supported by Harlan Bartel, John Schellenberg, Stan Graber, and Cliff Dick.

Report on the 2015 Congo Trip – Initial Observations
Chuck and Craig traveled to Congo in July 2015 to work at maintaining project momentum and direction. They arrived in Kinshasa and flew by MAF to Nyanga.

12234865_517769575059336_8476508910792774586_nAt Nyanga airport, four bamboo bicycles awaited the men to haul their luggage and supplies the seven kilometers to Khoma, DRC (Democratic Republic of Congo). This journey gave the men an introduction to the challenges of maintaining the bikes. It provided their first glimpse of the work ahead of them.

Upon arrival at Khoma, Chuck and Craig saw the nice workshop and new drying oven built by the team at Khoma. The workshop included a small office/reception area and a locked room for inventory supplies. The small oven for drying bamboo (built in 2013) had been replaced with a larger one, which included a good roof. It was pleasing to see this progress on the project.

On the negative side, it has been difficult to keep skilled craftsmen/frame builders on the team without regular work available.12227189_517772908392336_5724312494067694177_n

Reviewing frame assembly
Reviewing frame assembly

 

Chuck and Craig began their work with a team meeting to review the project since their visit in 2013. They discussed what worked, what the problems were, and how the bikes could be improved.

Things that worked:
• Tires and wheels.
• Overall bicycle design pleased the team
• Ability to push larger loads more easily in the sand and rough roads
• Riding bicycles, they made better time than the standard Chinese models
• Even while carrying 50-100 lb payload they made better time
• Travel longer distances, the bikes have brought merchandise back from Angola
• Overall the frames held up well
• Seats were still in good condition

We will continue the 2015 report from the team meeting here on our blog next Thursday. Please join us.

©2016 Hope4Congo

Paklawele’s Story

Congo.Paklawele.Bicycle
Paklawele (on the left) with his bicycle (a recent miracle) and Ron Brown (right)

At an age when many in the United States would be living at their leisure in retirement, Paklawele has faithfully ministered to the prison in Gemena, DRC. Please rejoice with us in how God has used this man’s faithful ministry as Ron Brown shares how he and Paklawele connected in ministry to the prison. (More photos of the prison ministry will be included in next week’s post–stay tuned.)

Ron says, “I had been serving in prison ministry in the US and Nicaragua for 18 years. I felt God calling me to full time missions in 2009, I thought in prison ministry. However, in the process of preparing for that, Wycliffe Associates recruited me to go to Kenya to support Bible translation. It made no sense to me, but I really felt it was God’s doing. I finally got to Kenya in 2011. After a few months I was re-assigned to Gemena, Equateur Privince, DRC…pretty remote spot.

“There is a prison in Gemena so I asked if the churches were doing anything there and the answer was no. But, there was this guy, Paklawele, who had been walking to the prison, 10 miles round trip, twice a week with no help or support of any kind for over 15 years…and Paklawele is 75-80 years old!. And to my great surprise, he lived in the village right beside my house!

“I began going to prison with Paklawele and we started talking to some other folks. As it turned out, there was a strong church leader with CECU (the Evangelical Free Church of the Congo) who was interested and within 2 months he had organized a committee (MAVUCO) of other strong leaders who began to go to prison with Paklawele and on their own. Seems like God had been working on this for some time…imagine that!

“The prisoners have no clean drinking water, get only the food that family and friends bring them, no medication when they get sick and you can imagine the conditions inside. So MAVUCO, out of their own pockets, began providing drinking water and a meal twice a month. This is a great challenge financially so we decided to see if we could drill a well for the prison (on private land) that would provide all the clean drinking water they needed and they could sell the excess to provide food and medication as well. That was early 2013.

“Today (March 4, 2015), I received word that the parts for the well are in, the land has been purchased and preparation of the land has begun.

“Isn’t that incredible?!! That is light speed for the Congo!

“My church (in the U.S.), has been providing Bibles, devotional materials, and song books. And there is now a church in the prison in Gemena.

“Isn’t God amazing?

“My heart is filled to overflowing for Paklawele today. He must feel like Joseph who labored in obscurity for so long before God, who was already at work, revealed His plan. And the best part for me is that I will be in the prison celebrating with the prisoners on March 22 (He should already be on his way back now.).

“So as those who love the Lord and love the Congo and her people…please rejoice with me today for our God is mighty, He is faithful and He is sovereign over Africa!”  ~Rod Brown

Thank you to Ron for sharing this story with us here at Hope 4 Congo.

Remember to check next week’s post for more photos of the prison ministry.

©2015 Hope4Congo