We visited two congregations and another country today (almost).
Our schedule today took us to the city of Kipushi where the CCLC has a congregation that meets in small church building behind the home of Pastor Lababa. There were several young boys in attendance which bodes well for the future of this small congregation. The service involved much singing and dancing. At one point everyone stood up and our translator (Mark) leaned over and said that they are singing "let us stand and praise the Lord" and then the he turned to me again with questioning eyes and asked, "shall we stand?" Of course we stood and clapped and praised the Lord! I was asked to preach in this service and it was a joy and privilege to encourage these children of God by reminding them of our Heavenly Father's Great Love for Sinner like us as we considered the parable of the prodigal son.
Following the worship service we were invited into the home of Pastor Lababa for lunch. The first platter that was set on the table was heaped up with grilled fish (head, tail, bones, scales, eyeballs, and all). Pastor Mayhew and I exchanged nervous glances that turned to relief when more and more variety of food was brought out. We were thankful that there were more guests than there was fish and we didn't need to feel bad about leaving un-eaten fish. The other food that was served was very good and we were thankful to the Lord and our hosts for the nourishment we received.
We then took a 2 hour journey to an area of the Congo that is near the Zambia boarder where two other CCLC congregations are located. The first congregation we visited was holding worship service in a temporary structure that provided little more than shade. This is a new congregation in the village of Wiske where the local chief has given a rather large plot of land in a new housing development so they can build a church and a school. This will be the only school in the newly developing area where land is being cleared and plots are now being sold. A few houses have already been built. In western terms this would be described as a new subdivision. What an opportunity the Lord has presented to the CCLC...to build the first and only school that would serve all the children of this new community. Pastor Yumba is also very excited for this opportunity as he has developed a good relationship with the village chief and is being encouraged to build the church on the donated land as soon as possible. The families of the village of Wiske have donated the time and money to make 5,000 bricks so they plan to begin construction soon.
The village of Wiske is very near the Congo/Zambia border town of Kasumbalsa where the CCLC has another congregation. We visited this town and attempted to cross the border into Zambia just to take a look around. Pastor Yumba has contacts in Zambia and hopes to start congregations there soon. We were able to cross into the "no man's land" from Congo but the guard at the Congo gate insisted on keeping our passports. We objected to this and certainly weren't comfortable with it but everyone assured us that this was proper procedure. When we got to the Zambia border office the official there told us we could not enter without a passport. We asked if we could just step inside the country to take a picture by the sign but he would not allow it. So, we could see from the window where the fence marked the actual border and since half of the building was officially in Zambia we stood on that side of the building just so we could say we were in Zambia. I'm pretty sure all the hassle was not worth the result but it was an experience none the less.
We only say a very small portion of Kasumbalasa but the part we did see was all about commerce. This is one of the main cities through which much of Congo's imports and exports travel. It is a growing city with a booming economy. We were told that all the imports from south of Congo like Zambia and even South Africa come through the gates that we tried to walk through. The new village of Wiske where the land was donated is being planned and built by the leaders and politicians who are expanding the trade routes through Kasumbalasa. The pastor of the congregation in Kasumbalasa is also serving the new congregation in Wiske. It is so exciting to see the Lord, apparently, opening new doors so that the truth of His saving word can be proclaimed!
Tomorrow will be a big day. I have been asked to participate in the ordination of three men for the full time Gospel ministry and to administer baptism for twenty children. At Pastor Yumba's request, I made Ordination Certificates on my laptop tonight but will need to get them printed tomorrow before the service.
I was able to talk to Beth yesterday and she said that she and kids are doing fine. The boys have all been working hard doing landscaping work around the church property and the girls have been having fun visiting at friends homes while Beth has been busy with more census work. I sure do miss them all.
Check out Pastor Mayhew's blog at: http://lutheranmissions.org/eastafricavisitation2009/