It seems this year has gone by very fast and our world has changed incredibly. It is good to know we serve a sovereign Lord who never changes. The Christmas story reminds us that God came to us as homeless, in poverty, a refugee, surrounded by injustice and violence. God wants to share with us in the problems that we face. His presence with us enables us to sing with the Angels and the shepherds, “JOY TO THE WORLD, THE LORD HAS COME!”
As we look over the past year, we have so much to be thankful for. God has blessed us so abundantly. As you know, January through mid March found us completing a six month stint of itineration in which we were in contact with some 125 churches over 20,000 miles. Indeed, we were blessed by so many people opening their homes to us. We are grateful to the Lord for his healing hand upon Lori and the eye problem she had, David’s shingles and for His hand upon Amber.
Return to Congo, then back to U.S.
We returned to Congo in June to finish out the school year. During the summer two work teams from New Mexico visited us and again the Lord’s blessings flowed. The reality of Christians coming together from different parts of the world and working together on a common goal is a beautiful thing to watch. Bishop Max Whitfield of the New Mexico Annual Conference invited us to itinerate in the conference during the months of October and November to develop this partnership between the Annual Conferences.
Lori arrived in the US at the beginning of October to attend the 40 anniversary of her nursing class. It was a blessing to be with old and life long friends who have remained close through the years. David stayed on at Mulungwishi in order to bring to conclusion our first class of the Masters of Organizational Leadership & Management by extension. Eight candidates defended their thesis in public session and graduation was held on October 5th.
Masters in Leadership Program partners
Dennis and Jeanette Fulton from Development Associates International (DAI), our partner organization in the Masters of Leadership Program, were present for this first graduation for French speaking Africa. The Fultons had been missionaries with the Methodist Church in Congo before their tenure with Mission Aviation Fellowship and now DAI. It was Dennis who first shared with David about the DAI and their program of leadership. The Lord took that conversation and through His grace has done a mighty thing putting together this program at Mulungwishi. Our Seminary was the first place chosen for the program in Africa. This choice was made because of the Seminary’s reputation and outstanding faculty. Now, some of our own faculty have been trained and are teaching in the program. Dr. Jean Marie Nkonge, the former Provost, is now the coordinator for French speaking Africa. Praise the Lord for partnership like this continuing training for the leadership of God’s people in Africa!
Methodist Clinic blessed
The one thesis David had mentored in the Master’s program was that of Dr. Kasongo Irung. What an exciting privilege it was to be a part of his work. Dr. Kasongo is the head of our Methodist clinic in the mining city of Kolwezi. The clinic ministers to the medical needs of many people in the city. Most receive $10-15 a month and are not able to afford high medical fees. The clinic has been operating on a shoestring budget to survive. Lack of medicine and the ability to have equipment were a constant pressure. Dr. Kasongo became a part of this leadership program and he felt it changed his life and his way of looking at leadership in every day issues. He realized more personally what the principles of leadership as a Christian meant. He was to serve others and not just be the “big boss doctor”. He felt convicted and remolded his ministry. Armed with these new tools, he was able to forge a partnership with Crusader Health, a for-profit Christian based health provider which has come to help Congo. Crusader Health brought to the table the finances and the possibility to sign contracts with mining companies to provide health care for their workers. Dr. Kasongo provided the facility, the reputation as the best clinic and the staff. The result was that the clinic was refurbished, new equipment brought in, medicines made available and salaries raised. But more than that, contracts were signed with the mining companies who could afford paying for the care and this enabled Dr. Kasongo and his staff to increase and widen their services to the poor at a reduced price. This thesis was more than a paper. It was a living report of what this leadership program had done in the life of a doctor in bringing health care to a community in need. We praise the Lord for the results.
Joy of family
After our travels in New Mexico, we celebrated Thanksgiving as a family in Denver. Andrew and Amber flew in from Seattle to join Michelle and Jeff and Jeff’s brother Dustin and his wife Saca. Again, we are thankful to the Lord for the family he has given us.
Continue your prayers
Be praying for Congo amidst the constant conflict in the north-east and the instability it brings to the whole country. Continue to pray for the Seminary, the University and the young men and women the Lord has called to be a His witnesses in this part of the world. We covet your prayers for us as we prepare to return to Congo. Thank you for your faithful support and caring for Congo.
We celebrate Christ’s coming with you this Christmas season.