Change: we hate it, we love it, we want it, we do not want it. However we feel about it, change is an inevitable part of life.
Right now in the DR of Congo, most people want political change. The president has overstayed his welcome and the country sometimes grumbles, sometimes shouts, for wanted change. There have been marches in the cities that have turned into ugly riots and senseless looting. The currency has changed in value: over the past 18 months, we have gone from a stable 900 francs to the US dollar, to now 1600. Wages and prices of food do not always keep the same pace.
The mood of the city has changed: there is a waiting feeling, and at the same time people are scrambling to make the most of the positions they are in before they get…‘changed’. Corruption seems more rampant than ever.
Up-country, there are some terrifying changes. Civil, satanic militias are making many areas tragically dangerous. The interior seems to have lost its rule of law, if it ever had much. When the bandits become too troublesome, the army swoops in and in turn bring their own sort of challenges to a community. Recently I witnessed some photos of atrocities committed by some pygmy tribes in the Manono area last year. In all my years in this country, despite having heard of such things, I had never seen them in this province. Even by photo, I was deeply shocked. This was the hacking of private body parts to wear as charms or witchcraft medicine or just a prize; bodies lashed to poles and barbecued. This was being done to old and weak people, or the young and vulnerable. Our Christian brothers and sisters are living with this horror and constant fear of attacks. Please pray for them and for the church leaders who are shepherding them. They are the workers on the real frontline of this very present evil in the DRC.
Our Congolese doctors and nurses are treating these cases when they arrive at the hospitals. Please pray for them. Pray for Dr Ilunga Muleka as he leads the team at Mulongo. He has just been asked by the Government to be the Head Doctor for the whole zone. While this will compromise his time at the Mission Hospital, it could be very advantageous in other ways. He would value your prayers for guidance and wisdom daily. There was a long outbreak of cholera there last year.
Other workers risk living up in the North for the sake of the gospel too. Pastor Kalonda and Mamba travelled back up to Manono last month. They had left a year ago because of that very pygmy war I mentioned, and now they are back to continue teaching, running seminars, facing problems in the churches — doing the work of an overseer. Please pray for them. They are faithful and wonderful servants of God who are great teachers and encouragers, not afraid to approach real life subjects head on with groups of learners. Last November they ran a couples seminar on Family Planning at their church. Kalonda is at the end of his present mandate as Legal Representative of the church community of North Katanga. Pray that the best decision is made at the next General Assembly as to who will continue as LR. Concerning this matter, I hope there will be NO change. Kalonda has been a visionary and godly leader.
Another change? The international school, of which I am Vice Director, has a new Director. That has meant many changes. For me, one significant one has been that after teaching senior English for some years, I gave those classes away to a Zimbabwean and gave myself half the school’s Christian Education classes. There is so much work for preparation, but so much joy to be able to share the gospel freely and constantly with all these mixed age-groups of children. I am working on a Christian Education curriculum for the school: please pray that this will be something that can be used for years to come, to shape young lives with the basis of God’s truth.
There has also been some change in our own household. The baby twin girls whom we fostered since June 2013 when they were seven weeks old, just re-joined their biological family in January. That was one hard change to face. Even though I always knew they would eventually have to go and live with their family again when their father remarried, it was tough on both sides when they left with them. But God is always good: we get to see them every Sunday and they appear to be coping with the change — we give the glory to God.
The uncertainty of the future here in the DRC is a change I am not looking forward to. Please pray that we know what God would have us do as a family as we approach high school years for the children and 30 years in Africa for me. Is it time for a change?
D R Congo