Monday, December 14, 2009

Christmas message

Already, we are approaching the Season of Christmas and everyone’s lives are full of plans and special occasions. Wow! It feels like this year passed by faster than ever! As always, our lives seem to involve many miles of travel. Presently, we are back in the States to do more itineration for Bishop Max Whitfield. The North West Texas Annual Conference is in relationship with our Southern Congo Annual Conference. We have been travelling in the Texas Panhandle for the past month and a half. A great treat, as we drive “the flat land of Texas” (Ha!), is being with many of the people that have come out on our Congo Volunteer In Mission (VIM) Teams. They have become part of our Congo’s extended family. Most of the Team’s members have returned two and three times! As, we have shared in our blogs, they have blessed Mulungwishi with their different ministries.

We plan to be in Denver for Christmas with all of our family: Michelle and Jeff, the Seattle two, Andrew and Amber, David’s brother and family (from Chicago) and Jeff’s Family (from Peoria). It will be a special blessing to be all together, for the first time in several years. Getting to be with our family is a great bonus to these speaking trips!

These past few months, we hope that you have kept up with us at Mulungwishi through our blog. When we left the station in mid-October things were buzzing. The University IT program started with 300 students, the School of Education with 50, the Seminary with 40 and the Women’s School 42. There are students in every available corner!

It was so great to have our electricity back and everything back on line including running water! It was so needed to get the academic year started. We started our own classes and left work for the students to do in our absence. Mulungwishi continues to have a strong staff with Dr. Kasap as the President of the University, Dr. Kongolo as the Provost, Dr. Pitchi as the Administrator of the University and Rev. Musalo as the Chaplain. The different schools are headed by Dr. Muntuta in IT, Dr. Kajoba for the Education and David as the Dean of the Seminary. The faculty of the Seminary is filled out with Drs. Nkonge, Kabwit, Jeff and Ellen Hoover as visiting professors. We also have many visiting professors to fill in the needs in the Schools of IT and Education.

Maybe some of you reading this would consider coming to Congo for a short time in order to help teach? Our staff is also comprised of seven with Masters’ degrees. Already, Dr. Kongolo and Rev. Kabange are facilitating courses for the Masters of Leadership Program, with our partnership with Development Associates International in other countries in Africa. The Minister of Higher Education also wants to see the University open a College of Agriculture.

All of our Seminary graduates have reached their designations after long trips and are hard at work. Some of them spent as long as three to four weeks by train, truck, bicycle etc. One of the spouses was very pregnant and we rejoice that she arrived without mishap after a three week ordeal on a train. As we were leaving to return to the States, Rev. Robert Kalau, one of our pastors, phoned to let us know that on that Sunday he was going to baptize some 120 people. Praise the Lord!

Mulungwishi is a strategic place to continue to produce leadership for Congo’s future. It is a privilege to be a part of this adventure. Every day, we are conscious of your daily prayers and faithful support of the work. We know all of this could not happen without the Holy Spirit’s leading, God’s timing and your participation. All we can say is a heartfelt THANK YOU for being a part of GOD’S KINGDOM building.

The beginning of this year, some friends shared a song with us from one of the Gaither Homecoming Videos. The words are by the Gaithers and it is sung to the familiar music of “Finlandia”. We have been touched by the words of this song, “I Then Shall Live“, and throughout these past months have been reflecting on its powerful clear message.

“I then shall live as one who’s been forgiven; I’ll walk with joy to know my debts are paid; I know my name is clear before my Father; I am His child, and I am not afraid; So greatly pardoned, I’ll forgive my brother”. “I then shall live as one who’s learned compassion; I’ve been so loved that I’ll risk loving too; I know how fear builds walls instead of bridges; I dare to see another’s point of view; And when relationships demand commitment, Then I’ll be there to care and follow through”. “Your Kingdom come around and through and in me; Your Power and Glory, let them shine through me; Your hallowed Name, O may I bear with honor; And may your living kingdom come in me; The bread of life, O may I share with honor; and may you feed a hungry world through me. Amen, Amen, Amen”.

Several times this song has brought us up short as we have evaluated our lives and ministry. Do we always walk with the joy that our debts have been forgiven? How readily do we pardon? Every day, do we bear His name with honor?

The Christ of Christmas is the reason we have been forgiven … the reason we can walk with the joy expressed in the song. The Christ of Christmas is the reason we can have compassion and care and commitment. The Christ of Christmas is the reason we are to reflect and help bring His Kingdom here on earth!

This Christmas … through this year … our prayer is that we may all live his love and joy more fully … Live his compassion and forgiveness more freely … clearly … and may we continue to lift up his name and live out his kingdom with honor! Halleluiah! Immanuel, Christ with us! Christmas!

We pray for His Blessings and His Peace for you.

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