Monday, October 26, 2009

Local kids plead for school

We have just arrived back in Denver. We will be here until January. The purpose of our return is to itinerate in the NW Texas Annual Conference for the Seminary and University. The itineration will take us into December. Christmas will be a celebration including a family reunion in Denver. We want to share with you something close to our hearts that we experienced this last month in Congo.

Three years ago, when Bishop Max Whitfield, of the New Mexico and NW Texas Annual Conferences, visited Mulungwishi in the Congo, he saw the need for the education of the children in the villages around the mission station. Because of the poverty, the war and the aids pandemic, many children could not afford to go to school. He brought this burden back with him to the New Mexico Annual Conference. Valerie Whitfield took this burden and challenge upon herself and mobilized the wives of the pastors within the Annual Conference as well as those in the NW Texas Annual Conference to make contributions to this project. In that first year, over $5,000 was raised and over fifty children were able to attend elementary and high school. Last year the program increased to some 90 children. This year, with the economic downturn which has hit our part of the world in a devastating fashion, the need has exploded. We must say that the last couple of weeks we were in Congo were amongst the hardest that we have faced in our ministry these 30 years. It broke our hearts to see children on their knees begging to be put on the list of those who would have their school fees covered. It reminded us of the movie "Shindler's List". Here were children wanting to go to school and their only means of survival was to be included on the list. This is particularly true of the girls who in their society would be married off at the age of 13 or 14 if they were not in school.

After we closed the list, we had three girls for three consecutive days on their knees in our front yard for hours. Every time we came to answer the door for whatever reason, there they were, "Please Sir, put us on the list". We finally called the village pastor to investigate their situation. They were refugees from the war and had been travelling the year before fleeing from the conflict to the north of us. They had been pillaged by the rebels and later on by the government troops. They had made their way to safety and settled with relatives in the village next to Mulungwishi. They were without means. The list provided the one chance for them to go to school this next year. This was too much for us and we included them in on the list.

Long story short, we have over 220 children on the list this year. We have taken this as a leap of faith and compassion for the year. It costs about $50 a year for a child to go to elementary school and $75 to go to high school. Seeing the need as being so great, Valerie has opened the doors to others outside the original circle of pastor's wives who want to participate in this ministry to children to do so. All contributions are run through the New Mexico and NW Texas Conference Offices.

Please be in prayer with us for this project and also for our time in the churches in Texas. Pray that we will be able to faithfully interpret what the Lord is doing in the Congo and the spread of His Kingdom.


  1. Hi David and Lori

    Amazingly enough, I was just thinking about you both this morning on my way to work...and here you were heading to Denver.....I'll see if I can help in some way with girls ed....
    I'm buying the "Ethie" food..Pam Jones

  2. Hello David Nelson Persons,

    At last I've found you! Do you remember back to your college years when one summer you sold
    Bibles in Kent, Ohio, and came to a home on Hoover Rd. in Ravenna. My name is Alice Weber.
    All these years I've wondered whatever happened to you and how God has lead you!
    My family couldn't afford to buy a Bible but
    we wanted to do something for you. My husband
    had some bikes in the garage. He fixed one up for you so you could cover more area for sales.
    Apparently it was stolen from you in Kent.
    I remember you were helping me by weeding some
    dahlias outside my back porch and singing a song
    in Swahili. You told us you had missionary parents. We invited you to come to our VBS so you came to the
    Grace C & MA church to teach the children some songs. Later, when you graduated from Asbury,
    you sent our family an invitation.
    We weren't able to attend but I've kept your
    enclosed card all these years in my jewelry box
    and prayed over it whenever I'd happen across the card. I tried going on line with Asbury Alumni and somehow couldn't bring up your name.
    I asked some missionaries with the last name of Persons with the C &MA in Thailand if they knew of your family, but they didn't.
    Finally, this last Sunday, I ran across the card
    again and decided to just "google" it.
    How blessed I was to read about how God has directed you and your wife all these years.
    How quickly the years have gone by.
    My husband, Al, is with the Lord now.
    My three(now)adult children were impacted by
    your visit to us. My daughter, Dian, remembers
    one of the songs you taught her. She and her
    husband have served as missionaries in Guinea,
    West Africa with the C&MA for many years. They are currently planting a church in Zanesville, OH. and are Missions Coordinators for the Central District C&MA. Both my son and other daughter serve on the Mission Boards of their churches as do I.
    We have missionaries from our church up in Ollombo so I am aware of some of the extreme
    challenges the DRC has these days.
    My thoughts and prayers will continue to be with you.
    May God continue to bless and keep you,
    With Christian love, Alice Weber

  3. Hi Alice, I do remember you and your family. You were a blessing to me that summer. I want to continue this conversation. My e-mail is
    Contact me directly and not through the blog for privacy reasons. Looking forward to hearing from you. David