Most of our existing church members live to the south of Kisangani. Fifty and sixty year ago, SDA missionaries came to those areas bringing with them the light of truth. Sadly, after the foreigners were driven out in the 1960’s these new members backslid to a greater or lesser degree. The war years brought additional discouragements and hardships.
Remembering the reformations instituted by Nehemiah for the Jews in Bible times, we traveled there for a four day series of meetings with all church leaders and pastors. What a welcome awaited us!! We were met at the outskirts of the town by church leaders and members. Then, we became a parade. We walked the half mile to the church followed by singing members waiving their arms in the air. Local people joined the grand procession, cheering our arrival-the first white missionaries they had seen in over forty years. Needless to say, we were completely overwhelmed.
We taught lessons about tithe paying, family worship, Sabbath keeping, evangelism, unclean foods, adultery, etc… We were surprised at the situation among our people. In a predominantly Adventist town, pigs roamed everywhere. I was surprised to be asked after my stewardship presentation whether or not tithe should be paid on beer production.
Some of the topics were well received and others were harder to accept. Change is difficult. We knew that the local field had no financial base to pay pastors since the tithe paying had slipped such a small fraction of the members. However, as we taught, we saw a spirit of repentance in the congregation.
By the time we left, people were sharing testimonies in favor of the teachings. We believe that if these reformations are sincerely followed, the Lord will be able to bless the church members in a mighty way once again. For us, it was heartwarming to be so well accepted. We will continue to pray for God’s Spirit to be poured out on His people.