The Short Story
We are going on our 12th trip to Congo. Airplanes and technology like Skype and Google Translate have expanded the definition of "neighbor." On this trip, we will love our neighbors in Bukavu, DR Congo. We take Bibles in the form of solar powered MP3 players to communicate the truth and love of Jesus Christ. Because God has led us to a faithful leader of leaders, we are taking many more Bibles on this trip. We take Bibles to fight lies that are rampant in the culture; these lies keep people mired in poverty. One of these lies is fatalism. Fatalism says that there is nothing I can do about my circumstances, therefore, why should I try to change them. God’s promises provide powerful hope and purpose. Can you imagine life without them? Another lie is that Christians cannot own a business because business is evil. In Genesis 1, God tells us to subdue the earth. Business is one way that we can subdue the earth. Businesses provide goods and services necessary for people to live well. We take Bibles so the Congolese Christians will know the truth.
The Longer Story
On the surface, Congo Blessings is an initiative to help relieve crushing poverty in DR Congo by teaching and encouraging people to start and grow businesses that are capable of employing other people. Since people in that culture share money but not information, there is little of either to help people start businesses. The World Bank ranks Congo at the sixth worst place to do business in the world which means the Congolese government does not promote business formation. The result: few jobs, per capita GDP of $750 per year and hunger, despite incredibly fertile farmland and natural resource wealth that exceeds $100,000 per capita. A fundamental reason for poverty is that Congolese Christians have a worldview characterized by fatalism. Fatalism mixed with bad Christian theology says that I just have to wait for God's blessings to appear. We teach the Congolese people a different worldview while helping them start and grow businesses. We take American business people on short term trips to teach important concepts out of the book of Genesis, including:
- God created us in His image; therefore, we are created to create.
- God has commanded people to subdue the earth or use the earth’s resources for the benefit of people.
- God has designed us to work and that our work can bring Him glory.
We also teach people important business concepts like market research, pricing, marketing, budgeting, customer service and cash management. These concepts are foreign to most Congolese. Between trips, we continue to train and encourage people through regular Skype calls. Most importantly, we encourage people to seek Jesus Christ, a loving, personal and powerful Savior, who desires to provide for His people.
As we train people, we also seek to build relationships. We believe that ongoing relationships combined with resources (knowledge as well as tangible items) provide a more certain path out of poverty. During the last seven years, God has arranged introductions with leaders of leaders with whom we could develop relationships. Some of these relationships went nowhere because the leaders thought of us as an ATM. We found others to be trustworthy men and women of God. One of these leaders is Kalondji – an overseer of Anglican pastors in rural areas. Over the past few years, we have given Kalondji 600 Bibles (solar powered MP3 players) to distribute through pastors. One of the things that struck me about Kalondji is that he has a big view of the Church. He distributed the Bibles not just to the pastors that he oversees but also to pastors in other churches in these rural areas. On one trip, we traveled with Kalondji for several days and visited one of the villages. During one meeting, 30 pastors explained how God had used these Bibles in people’s lives. As we traveled with Kalondji, we saw the care and concern that he had for people. God used this time to build our confidence in Kalondji’s abilities to distribute these Bibles well and to help us see people’s desire for Bibles. In addition, we will work with Kalondji to develop a shepherding initiative. We would like people who receive a Bible to have someone help them understand what they are hearing – like Philip and the Ethiopian eunuch in Acts 8:26-35. In the end, we are praying that the Holy Spirit would work through the Word of God and the people of God to help thousands of Congolese people live well.
The Impact in Stories
Kalondji reported that he gave a Bible player to a mini-bus driver. He plays the Bible; others play the radio. Now, passengers request him because they want to hear the Bible. With more passengers, he makes more money. Praise God!
One pastor reports that families enjoy listening to the Bible before bed. Reading is not an option because there is no electricity.
One army chaplain reported that the soldiers fight and have injuries which fill them with stress. He prays for these soldiers and turns on the Bible player. Listening to the Word of God gives them strength and confidence.
One pastor thanked us for our teaching, outlined above. He said:
- The teachings were new to him and others.
- Bad teachings have destroyed things in the Congo.
- The people have never been taught to be creative.
One pastor reported that the Bibles help traveling evangelists prepare sermons. He said that it hurts their eyes to the point of tears to read the Bible. (Glasses are not plentiful.) Wow! Praise God for enabling us to love our neighbors and deliver truth!
What We Need
We ask people to sponsor a French/Swahili Bible (a solar powered MP3 player). You can sponsor a Bible by doing one or more of the following:
- agreeing to PRAY for the recipient of the Bible and his/her "listening group" (just email greg@CongoBlessings.org)
- contributing $30 to cover the cost of the Bible and the shepherding initiative
- contributing additional money to cover the other costs of the trip
What You Get
I want to remind you of a great passage in Luke 16. Luke recorded Jesus speaking about a business manager who was about to lose his job and decided to use his rich master’s money to gain a personal advantage before it was too late. Jesus commends him for acting shrewdly, but the lesson was really for us. Our time is limited, and Jesus implies that it would be shrewd for us to use the money to gain friends for eternity in heaven. When you sponsor a Bible for someone in the Congo, you will have an opportunity to enjoy that person’s friendship in heaven forever.
Other Ways You Can Help
I want more people to go, to encourage the Congolese people and to experience the great joy of being used by God. There are opportunities for business people, educators, and others. Two people with a passion for video have gone to teach the Congolese how to create short films. I didn't know there was a need, but God did. He called them. Is God calling you? Share this page on Facebook. See our Facebook page.
Our Guiding Principles:
- Jesus is a Personal and Powerful Provider for His People
- Subdue the Earth
- Relationships and Resources - Never One without the Other
- Integrating Physical and Spiritual Resources
- Local Leadership - Global Relationships
- Individuals Following Jesus will Transform a Community