Leja Bulela

Leja Bulela
by Brad Graber

Leja Bulela means “show that you care” in the Tshiluba language of the Luba people.

Hope for Congo attended and participated in the 2017 Annual Conference for Leja Bulela in Washington D.C. The theme of the conference was “Congo-Unlimited Possibilities, Unlimited Potential.” Leja Bulela members are part of the larger burgeoning Congolese ex-patriot community in the United States and Canada.

For more information check their website: http://www.lejabulela.org

Leja Bulela was founded in 1993 as a reaction to the expulsion of an estimated 500,000 Kasai natives from the Katanga province of the Democratic Republic of Congo in the early 90s. What began as a response to a refugee need exists today “to improve the lives of our brothers and sisters living in Kasai, specifically those in Tshibombo Tshimuangi.”

A key initiative has been the building, funding, and managing of a medical clinic, which serves a population of 80,000. Tshibombo Tshimuangi is about a 45-minute drive from Mbuji Mayi, which serves as the capital city of Kasai Oriental province.

Leja Bulela opened the Kalala Muzeu Health Clinic in 2011 with the goal that it would eventually be self-sustaining. Leja Bulela members donate monthly to maintain the upkeep costs and employee salaries.

Topics discussed at the conference included:
• Best practices for managing a health facility
• Impact of primary health care strategies and initiatives
• Leveraging the power of water
• Using technology to build community

Hope for Congo was impressed with their passion, commitment, and engagement in the East Kasai. It is a witness to their love and care for their brothers and sisters in Congo.

The needs in the Democratic Republic of Congo are great. The complexities do not allow for simple short term solutions. Leja Bulela is entering its 25th year of direct involvement and personal commitment to a long term goal.

Hope for Congo is encouraged by the efforts of Leja Bulela and realize the complexities in Congo can only be addressed through an array of organizations collaborating together with a common over-arching purpose, to improve the lives of our brothers and sisters living in Congo.

Hope for Congo has been blessed by the collaborative and generous donations that our supporters have and continue to make. We are grateful and humbled. The collaboration of giving and doing, generosity and action, praying and keeping in step with God will continue to improve the lives of our brothers and sisters in Congo. Let’s put our “YES” on the table and let God put it on the map.

Leja Bulela!!! Show that you care!!!

Thank you, Brad for letting us know about another organization formed to help our brothers and sisters in Congo.

Please continue to pray for peace in Congo and wisdom for all parties to maintain it.

© 2017 Hope4Congo

Bible Distribution Project

Our goal at Hope 4 Congo is to make the purchase of Bibles in the “heart” languages affordable and available to everyone.

The demand for Bibles far exceeds the current availability.

In May 2016 a pastor’s conference was held at Tembo beside the large River Kwango, which is the border between the Democratic Republic of Congo and Angola. The famous William Falls are within walking distance.

Thirty-five (35) pastors were expected. Two hundred thirty-five (235) filled the pews the first day. The attendees were asked if they had a Bible to please raise them high. Eight Bibles were counted. Eight!
Let me emphasize that.

235 pastors with only 8 Bibles among them.

The pastors were asked what they used to preach from.

Parts and pieces, was the answer. A few pages of this and a few of that. From this meager supply, they wove a sermon.

Surely God blesses their faithful offering. However, couldn’t they offer even more if they had whole Bibles? No wonder so many came to the conference. They needed more of God’s Word to refresh their own souls and to share nourishment with their flocks.

While there are many needs in Congo, the need for Bibles in the heart language of the people has always been our ministry’s area of greatest emphasis.

Hope for Congo purchases the Bibles through the American Bible Society for $9.00 and sells them for $3.00. Money from the sales goes directly back to buy more Bibles.

Hope for Congo has purchased and sold 10,000 Bibles
in three languages to date:

1) Tshiluba, 2) Kikongo, and 3) Chokwe.

The Bibles are distributed through the local churches. Our goal is to have Bibles readily available on demand in each of the primary languages and sufficient funds to cover the transportation costs to the various communities that request Bibles.

We purchase Bibles as we have funding and opportunity. A typical print run is 3,000 Bibles for $27,000.

For two years we’ve been working toward updating a Bible translation in a fourth language, Kipende.
We are in negotiation with a qualified translator in order to accomplish this goal. Once the translation update is complete we’ll again use the American Bible Society to print the Bibles. The estimated cost for the translation update is $20,000. Printing will cost an additional $27,000 plus shipping.

We have received a request to create a fifth translation in the Teke language for the Bateke tribe. Since no translation exists for this language (that we know of), producing this Bible will involve research and development, which of course adds to the costs and difficulties. Pray that God would provide the resources and a team to accomplish this translation.

It is only through your generous donations that Hope for Congo can continue to come alongside our brothers and sisters in Congo—to walk with them and bring hope to their lives.

Hope begins with the Word of God.

Your donations are tax-deductible.
Make your checks payable to: Africa Inter-Mennonite Mission or AIMM
Designate your donation to: Hope 4 Congo

With your donation, please indicate which of our projects you wish to support. Monies sent to our general fund will be applied where needed most.

Your gift will go directly to support Hope 4 Congo’s mission. This is a non-profit ministry. Everyone who works for this ministry is a volunteer so every dollar you send goes straight to the project you designate or to where funding is most needed.

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

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

Next week we will share the opportunities that exist to help with education.

© 2017 Hope 4 Congo

8 Among So Many

What a privilege it is to have access to God’s Word. Most of us have several Bibles in our homes. If we need another one, we can go to a nearby store and choose one from many translations or get one online. We can even choose from a variety of colors and fancy covers.

If we forget to bring our Bible on a Sunday morning—no worries—most churches have at least one available in every pew. Sunday School rooms often have stacks of Bibles.

Not so in Congo.

On his most recent trip, Stan was told the following story.

In May of this year, Garry and Larry Prieb along with Rebecca Culp and several Congolese flew to Tembo in lower Bandundu Province to hold a pastor’s conference. Tembo sits on the large River Kwango, which separates DRC from Angola. The famous William Falls are within walking distance.

Thirty-five (35) pastors were expected to hear Garry expound on I Corinthians. We were in for a surprise. Two hundred thirty-five (235) filled the pews the first day.

Garry asked anyone who had a Bible to please raise them high. Eight Bibles were counted. Eight.

Let me emphasize that. 235 pastors with only 8 Bibles among them.

Later, Larry asked the pastors what they used to preach from. Parts and pieces, was the answer. A few pages of this and a few of that. From this meager supply, they wove a sermon.

Surely God blesses their faithful offering. However, couldn’t they offer even more if they had whole Bibles? No wonder so many came to the conference. They needed more of God’s Word to refresh their own souls and to share nourishment with their flocks.

While there are many needs in Congo, the need for Bibles in the heart language of the people has always been our ministry’s area of greatest emphasis.

Update on the Bible Project
Hope 4 Congo’s Bible Project began in 2010 with the purchase of 300 Tshiluba Bibles. To date we have purchased DSC00023a total of 9,750 Bibles in three languages:
• Tshiluba
• Kituba
• Chokwe

We are awaiting completion of a Kipendi translation update. Once completed, 3,000 Kipendi Bibles will be printed using donations designated for that purpose. That will bring the total count to 12,750 Bibles purchased by Hope 4 Congo.

12,750 Bibles at $9.00 per Bible equals $114,750.

The freight to ship them is an additional cost. Currently we have spent approximately 7.9% for transportation to various distribution points.

Chokwe & Tshiluba Bibles prepared for transport from Kinshasa to Tshikapa

Congolese Church Leaders have emphasized the importance for individuals to purchase their own Bibles. They have also told us that $3.00 is an appropriate amount to charge. We are grateful for the efforts of church leaders to return this amount to the ministry so it can be reinvested in printing more copies.

We are considering the possibility of printing other requested language translations. We will update you as God directs our paths.

Do not underestimate the power of prayer for meeting the need for Bibles in Congo. God has met our needs thus far and expanded our capacities. We want to keep in step with His Spirit (Galatians 5:25).

Prayer Requests:
• Pray that God will oversee the accounting process
• Pray that God will expand our ability to purchase Bibles more frequently
• Pray that God’s Word will transform the lives of each individual, both at the local and national levels of Congolese society and government.

© 2016 Hope4Congo

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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1) Please follow us. Click on this orange link:  http://hope4congo.com It will take you straight to the right page. Enter your email address in the correct box on the right side of the page. You will receive a confirmation email in your inbox shortly. When it arrives, click confirm.
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These simple acts will cost you nothing. However, by doing them, you will support Hope4Congo by increasing our exposure on the web.

©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

Brad First Returned to Congo in 2007

Brad and his wife, Sharon

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

©2015 Hope4Congo