Sunday, February 16, 2020

Sent to the Democratic Republic of Congo...FEB 2020

I'm just a few hours away from my departing flight that will take me from St. Louis to Chicago. After a long layover in Chicago, I will hop on a 16+ hour flight to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia and then one last flight to Lubumbashi, DRC where I am scheduled to arrive around 2:00 pm on Tuesday. After a quick afternoon and night of rest I'll head north to the central part of DRC to Manono. According to Pastor Yumba this will require two days of travel in a Land Rover 4X4 because the roads we will be traveling require a four-wheel-drive vehicle. While in Manono, we'll have a pastoral training seminar for CCLC pastors, elders, and evangelists that live and work in this part of DRC. We'll also have a graduation and ordination service for seven men who have completed Theological training at the Holy Trinity Lutheran Bible Institute.

We will also conduct a Christian marriage ceremony for these men and their wives. The DRC government requires a legal/government/secular marriage but doesn't recognize a Christian/church wedding. So, for many in the DRC, a Christian wedding ceremony is not even a thought that crosses their minds. The leaders of the CCLC want to encourage those souls that are entrusted to their care to begin thinking of the importance of having the Lord included in their wedding and in their marriage. So, as a way of setting an example, the leadership of the CCLC thought it important for these men and their wives to publically make their vows before God in a Christian worship service. This promises to be a joyful and exciting day that I am honored to be a part of.

The graduation and ordination service for these men will also be an exciting and God-honoring worship service. This first class of graduates is a long time coming. Since we first began working with Pastor Yumba and the CCLC we have been encouraging and helping them to establish a formal training program to prepare pastors and teachers and evangelists to faithfully proclaim the truths of God's saving word. Due to a variety of reasons this effort was slow in getting started. Finally, Pastor Yumba decided to just get started. They had no permanent meeting place and plans to build a facility were delayed and the instability of the former government made it extremely difficult for the CLC-USA to help. With nothing but the Bible and study materials provided by CLC missionaries in hand and seven men who were willing to leave their jobs and family and homes for months at a time to study, classes began. After some time the CLC Project Kinship began to sponsor the students to allow them to continue their training. Fast-forward about five years and here we are, ready to celebrate God's grace and mercy in providing seven faithful preachers and teachers of His word for the CCLC!

Following the seminar, wedding service, graduation/ordination service and two full days of visiting congregations and pastors in their home villages, I'll begin the long trip back to Lubumbashi where we'll basically do the same thing all over again (less the wedding service) with three pastors who live and work in this area. The seminar and graduation/ordination service will be held a the new CCLC headquarters and Bible Institute in Ntondo where I visited back in October and November. It will be great to see the progress that has been made over the past few months.

The reason I am heading back to DR Congo so soon is because I was issued a six-month, multi-entry visa last fall. That visa was difficult and expensive to get because it required a trip to Washington, DC to apply and be interviewed at the DRC Embassy. I had been denied a visa the last three times I had applied. Since we're not sure that I'll be able to get another visa and considering the expense, we figured it was wise to squeeze in another visit within the six-months that my visa is valid.

If all goes well and according to plans, I will be back home for about five days in mid-March before I head to Myanmar and Nepal.

Your prayers are requested and much appreciated!

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