Donors in the USA offered to send money to the churches in Congo. The region that I have visited is right in the heart of the current Ebola outbreak. Damiri Paluku, church planter and overseer, wrote:
We’ve had website ‘issues’ for a few months and I’m finally able to post an update. Much has transpired since my last report.
The work in Africa continues. My trip in January was different compared to previous visits. I was in a different city and met many new people.
Mike Anticoli, Vin Lucien and I spoke at a conference held by Church on the Rock in Goma, DRC, at the foot of an active volcano. Damiri Paluku (with me at left) is a great friend, and he pastors the church in Goma. It’s an honor to minister with these men.
I spoke on The Prophetic Gift, a study of how God used prophets in the Old Testament and New Testament. There are many false prophets in Congo, people who claim to speak for God but tear families apart and manipulate people for financial gain. The church was happy to hear the truth that God wants his gifts to be used in love, to build people up, to encourage and comfort His people.
We met with a group of business people who gather regularly to encourage each other (see the picture above). I helped introduce them to IBB Talks, a Christian business video series that has been a great help to many around the world.
Three pastors from DR Congo are visiting Sam’s church, teaching and preaching. These men are all dear friends, and I’m very glad that I can play a small role in helping them do what God is calling them to do.
Above are pastors Maskote, Bethuel, Jeremy, Sam and Damiri. Here is a quick report from Damiri:
We’ve had a great time today at the conférence. Pastor Bethuel is Teaching about Discipleship, Pastor Jeremy is teaching on Discernment, Pastor Maskote is teaching on Fellowship and I am doing Leadership. The attendance increased today and mostly pastors and church leaders. We love it.
This is a blessing for us, to be given an opportunity like this, builds us in our faith, and we come to understand that we have something very much needed elsewhere that we can share. May God bless each one that contributed to make this possible. We are very grateful.
UPDATE: Damiri sent this after the conference was over:
We are very very grateful for giving us an opportunity to minister. We had a great time ministering and fellowshipping with brothers and sisters in Fortportal. I have a sense that this door is not only open to Spring of Life church but to the surrounding areas as well.
The number of ministers increased, and testimonies from the attendants were powerful. Like one old man called his wife up front and asked for forgiveness to his wife and his whole family for mistreating them. He learned from the teachings that he must have a good relationship with his family. There were healings and some youth accepted Jesus as their Lord and savior.
The need for teachings is still highly needed.
I think God opened this door not only for Pastor Sam, many more ministers have benefited.
Glory be to God. Each and every one in the team says Thank you and may God bless you more for the finances and prayers for this work to be done.
While in Congo, I introduced the church to Sawyer water filters, the type I learned about last year during my visit to Tanzania. One of my favorite memories is of meeting with several pastors, showing them how well the filters work. They were all very impressed. I had only four filters with me.
Damiri Paluku, one of the lead pastors in Congo, told me that typhoid fever is a very big problem in the villages. They have no medical care, no doctors or medicine, therefore many, many people die from typhus. These filters removed typhus from the water, and Damiri said that many lives will be saved by giving people clean water.
Through the generous donations of two families in the USA, we recently sent 70 filter kits to Congo. Each kit contains the filter as well as a ‘bucket kit’ that allows the filter to be installed on a bucket. We are also purchasing buckets.
When Damiri learned we’d send 70 filters he wrote, “Wow! Praise God! All our churches will be covered!!! That is like paying thousands of dollars for medical bills! May God bless you very much. This is saving many lives.“ Continue reading
One fun result of my visit to Congo is that Valerie and Carrie, the pastor’s daughter, have become pen pals. They’ve shared a few letters and have given special gifts – they have matching dresses.
Val bought two dresses in the USA and sent one to Carrie.
Here, Carrie is wearing her dress while talking with Val by WhatsApp (when I was in Congo in February):
Then Carrie had two dresses made in Congo and sent one to Val:
Slowly I’m getting caught up on writing this update. Apologies.
We had a great visit to the States. We spent time with my Dad in Athens, GA and had very good fellowship with our church and many friends there. We spent a few weeks in Texas, mostly in Austin but also visiting folks in other cities. It’s been two years since we were there and it was great to reconnect. I also visited ministry partners and friends in Iowa, North Dakota, Minnesota and Maryland. Our time in the States is always quite full and we’d love to have more time there, but life in Russia beckoned and we’re very glad to be home.
In February, I visited Uganda and Conga. I went with a small team from New England, once again led by Mike Anticoli. Mike performed our wedding in Russia and later planted the church in Congo where we serve. It’s been really good to reconnect with Mike and I hope we’ll continue working together in the future.
We arrived in Uganda and quickly went to visit Sam Bahiirwa, near Fort Portal. We spoke at Sam’s church and had some good fellowship with him, his family and church leaders. I spoke on Hope. At one point I mentioned how the Bible likens Hope to an anchor for the soul. I saw blank looks on the faces of the congregation. So, I asked how many had been on a boat. None of the local villagers had been on a boat. They live in the mountains and don’t travel very far from home, of course they’ve never been on a boat. Then, part of my teach then became explaining boats, anchors, waves, and wind, and how Biblical Hope is solid, not just wishful thinking.
Sam moved to a new building in a village. His church is a witness to the townfolk, though the building itself is in poor repair. The owner of the building has offered to sell it to Sam at a good price, so we’re hoping God will make a way for that to happen. We also got to see speakers and a generator purchased with funds donated by friends in Athens, GA. Continue reading
I hope to post a full update soon, but here’s a picture I took the last month in the Democratic Republic of Congo:
Eleven people were baptized while locals watched from the shore, some were washing clothes and others were hauling water. It was a beautiful experience and is a great example of how the Lord continues His work in all situations.
Our God is a God of Hope.