By Elisha VandeVoort
We looked at the chasm before us that used to be a road. Heavy rains had washed out an 8 foot section of the road just before the bridge. The sides of the gulch were 8 feet straight down. We were heavily loaded with equipment and material to build 2 one day churches. Should we turn back?
Our Pygmy congregation near Nia Nia, about 250 miles east of Kisangani, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), was expecting us and this would be the first one day church among their tribe. Their members could no longer fit under the little thatch roof structure built from jungle material. With a prayer on our lips, we laid several 2 inch planks over the wash out and drove over it. The angels kept the planks from breaking and protected us all along the rest of our journey. Through heavy rains we spun the wheels up one side of the mountainous hills and slid down the other side.
Satan threw many obstacles in our path, but with God always at our side and so many people praying for us, we knew we would prevail. Wrecked trucks littered the sides of the road reminding us of what “might have been” without our angel escort. No doubt lives had been lost in some of the crashes. At one check point, Mango (one of our workers) was taken into custody and held at gun point by several soldiers because he had forgotten his Identification card. Fortunately, after some pleading, we were all on our way again. Time and again we were stopped by up to a dozen armed soldiers making various demands.
Finally, after two long days on the worst roads I have ever seen, we reached Nia Nia safely. The Pygmies were so excited to see us! Many came to watch and some helped us to clear a site beside their little thatch roof church. After working for an hour on the church, it began to rain so we took shelter under the small Pygmy church and prepared to sleep for the night. Early the next morning we attended the devotional service the church planter held for the 40 plus people who came. Very few people in Congo have Bibles, so our church planters have a short meeting each morning. I wish you could see these desperately poor, simple jungle people intently listening to the Bible being read and hear them sing praises to their Savior in four part harmony. It’s just beautiful!
We finished building the church by noon and a few of us went to visit some of the Pygmies in one camp to take them some salt and soap. I have never in my life seen
people so poor or so sick, and with so little of this world’s goods. These people have nearly nothing! Their homes are palm branches fashioned in the shape of an igloo. All they have to eat is what they scavenge from the jungle. They showed us where they had recently buried several who had died, and there were many others who looked more dead than alive. We gave medicine to several who were suffering from malaria. We also gave them some rice and beans for which they were extremely grateful.
Sadly, we could only stay with them for a short time as we needed to travel on to the next site where we would build another church for a different group of believers the following day. By God’s grace, we have been able to put up thirty of these one day churches this year across central Democratic Republic of Congo. They have been a tremendous blessing to hundreds and hundreds of people.
Thanks so much to Maranatha Volunteers International and ASI for sending these churches to DRC and thanks to each of you for your prayers and support. May God bless you is our prayer at Congo Frontline Missions.