Thursday, January 29, 2015

Backstory: A God Ordained Relationship

We met Pastor Euclide and his wife, Lilian for the first time in 2009, six years ago when we first came to Goma, DRC. Euclide was a newlywed like us (married only a year before us), who was fresh out of Harvest School of Missions in Mozambique. He had just finished being trained under the Bakers' ministry and believed that he was meant to go back to his home country, where he had originally fled from the war. But God told him to go specifically to the city of Goma, a city that he had never been before.

At the time, Andrew and I were working for Overland Missions, our former organization.

I would say that all of us were excited and starry-eyed about answering God’s call on our lives and truly saw beyond all of the political, ministry-related things. We all truly wanted to see a change in Congo and we all felt specifically that Goma was the place to start out.

Andrew walking through Birere with Euclide and members
of the church ministering to children and families in 2009.
Euclide had a church with an awesome children’s ministry in Birere, the slum area of Goma. He invited us to come to a prayer meeting and after that, the children’s ministry.

This was a prayer meeting that I could never forget (and I’ve been to a lot of good prayer meetings). Children and adults were falling on the ground with words and prophecies; there was literally a WAVE that hit the church. Andrew and I just went along for the ride thinking that this was a normal prayer meeting that the church usually had.

The prayer meeting lasted for 5-6 hours! It was originally meant to last only two. We later found out that this was no ordinary prayer meeting for the church—although their prayer meetings are usually pretty intense. It just happened that the day we shared at the church, there was this massive outbreak of the Holy Spirit.

What a good way to start a relationship with this church and pastor!

Euclide and Lilian continued to be good friends to us throughout the years. We would go to conferences together, pray and worship together, preach at various locations together, even travel to surrounding countries in Africa.

I still remember in 2010, when all that Andrew and I could afford was a cheap SENKE motorbike. Euclide and Andrew went out on the motorbike together to do ministry in a pygmy village for the day. Andrew came back with the sickest stomach that I can ever remember him having. Apparently, he ate fish that had gone bad with Euclide at the pygmy village. Andrew prayed to the porcelain god (the toilet) for the entire night that night.

 In the morning Andrew called Euclide on the phone:

“Hey, how did you sleep?”
“I slept very well, Andrew and how about you?”
“How did your stomach feel?”
“My stomach is just fine.”

Andrew got off the phone and shook his head.

“One day, I’ll have a stomach like his.” He said.

Pygmies, like the ones that Euclide and Andrew went to see on that day live
among these beautiful mountains in Masisi Territory. That day, they took
Andrew's new Indian-made motorcycle on a journey that Andrew's stomach
will never forget. 

(For full story:

Euclide and Lilian sympathized with us when we left Overland Missions. I can remember that Euclide was the only Congolese friend that we had who actually understood what we gave up in order to pursue our vision in the Congo. He thanked us. He was the only Congolese who thanked us for that decision.

Andrew and I were there the day after Euclide’s church burnt down in Birere. We watched him and the children from the kid’s ministry look around for any pieces that they could salvage. I’ll never forget that the children were picking up stones from the ground to try and build on what was once where their church stood.

They insisted that that they should all gather for their weekly kids meeting. Euclide, in extreme stress replied… “Where? Where can we gather? There’s nowhere to gather anymore.”

We raised a large chunk of money to rebuild the church out of metal sheets and wood. We later initiated a micro-finance initiative that helped get additional funding for the church, but that was back before we really understood micro-finance… I think we helped a bit, but maybe not as much as we hoped to.

(Full story 1

(Full story 2

Amethyst learning how to work with children in Euclides
church. It was not something she was used to. At all.
On a happier note… I also remember the time when Andrew, myself, and a guy named Sam (who is one of our monthly supporters) bought bread and juice for the kid’s ministry. We expected to feed 50 children, but almost 150 showed up. That day, God performed the same miracle like in Matthew 14 and John 6, when Jesus fed the 5,000. We gave and gave and gave… we ended up with two leftover boxes of bread and juice!

Life got complicated for us when Euclide and Lilian felt led by the Holy Spirit to join us and work together as one ministry. Euclide sent us an email that he’ll probably never forget. He told us that he’s ready to be with us exclusively.

We (Andrew and I) never responded.

I can’t really give you a specific reason why we left Euclide hanging more than three years ago like that. Maybe it was because we didn’t even really understand what we were doing… maybe it was because it felt like every pastor we would meet was asking for a partnership… maybe it was because we had so many people grasping at any chance of a relationship because of our potential to bring money into their ministry… More than anything… I feel that we didn’t answer because we didn’t know that this was God. We were (and still are) young and didn’t know how to differentiate exactly who to put our trust in.

Euclide and Lilian went through some tough times of not being able to have a child, being kicked off of the land where his church was, his house burning down, random mzungus (foreigners) coming and making promises that were never kept and even a few death threats from other jealous Congolese pastors, because of his relationship with numerous foreign missionaries.

It was around the same time that Andrew and I had really acquired the full vision for our work in Congo that Euclide signed a contract with another organization.

Somewhere around that time, I remember getting a word of advice from Shannon and Steve (board members of Global Outreach Foundation) saying that Euclide might be that partnership that sparks the wildfire (in a good way) that we have been praying for. After giving it a large amount of prayer, we felt certain that this was the partnership that God wanted us to make and were excited for the possibilities. When Andrew and I met with Euclide about a possible partnership—he told us that we left him hanging more than a year ago with no other choice than to move on to other opportunities that he was presented. He was disappointed in us, but suggested that we talk to his organization to see if they would release him to help us during times when he was not fulfilling other obligations.

We were met with heartbreak.

It was probably one of our more profound ‘balloon-popping’ moments in realizing that not all is, as it seems for ministries. We were told that it wasn't okay to work with Euclide. The fact that we even asked even caused undue tension for him and others.

Even more heartbreaking was the fact that we felt so strongly that this is what we were meant to do. Did we not hear from God? We thought that we did. But we figured since it was stirring up strife in the body of Christ… maybe we heard wrong. Still, it shook us, because we thought… if we are wrong about this, than what else could we be wrong about?

We intentionally avoided Euclide from that point (it was around 2012) onward… to be honest, seeing him was a bit painful. I can’t explain why, except to say that—in an awkward way, I felt a lot like one of those romance stories where two people are meant for each other, but life has arranged it in such a way that they could never be together… so they would just rather ignore each other, just to forget about the fact that they care too much. Oddly, Andrew also agrees… we really felt that way about Euclide and Lilian.

 “This is not about money, this is not about position, it’s not even about what we want. This is about faithfulness,” Euclide told us when we expressed to him that we wished that we’d chosen to be together from the beginning. He told us that he and Lilian also wished this too. But it wasn’t so and he had to be faithful to his word to this other ministry that he chose to be with.

During that yearlong period of silence, Andrew and I kept our communication open, but tried so hard to not seem like we were trying to ‘steal’ someone from another ministry that Euclide felt kind of like we had reneged on our friendship.

It was during 2013-2014 when ministry started getting very taxing on us. Our understanding of our own limitations grew bigger and bigger—and so was this undeniable sense of deep loneliness. We believed that God would give us a local partnership, a covenant relationship so-to-speak. But it seemed like it never came. And here we were starting programs and projects based on the vision that God gave us… but feeling very isolated in the process.

Andrew and I agreed i
n early 2014 that it was unsustainable to continue working in Congo alone. We needed to find partners to share the responsibility with, otherwise we would start working on an exit plan from Congo. We talked about it during our time in the US earlier this year and kept it to ourselves for the most part. We had decided that we needed a co-laboring couple to be with and that we would put the olive branch out to Euclide one last time. If we got nowhere, we were near ready to give in and find a different way to work—maybe returning to the US more frequently or something along those lines. 

When Andrew called Euclide this year, Euclide’s first words were: “Andrew, you’ve left me behind.”

Andrew’s response:
“You’ve left me too.”

Andrew and Euclide started to meet again, and this time… Euclide decided he wanted to pray about whether or not he should forge a partnership with us. He expressed how we had disappointed him before and how he had experienced many broken promises from people that he trusted. He reiterated his heart for the Church and his calling to plant churches and preach the Gospel. He explained how he felt like he couldn’t wait any longer for other people. He had to go forward with what God told him to do lest he be disobedient and get stuck doing projects for other organizations and not do what God called him to Congo for: to build the Church.

We prayed weekly as two couples throughout the summer for Euclide’s decision. Some days we went to Euclide and Lilian’s house, while other days they came to ours. They made it clear that they weren’t sure about what direction to go. We told them that whether they chose to be with us or not, that we would support that decision.

At the end of last year, both of our families felt God leading us to form a Jonathan and David relationship with each other.

Andrew and I finally grew up enough to know what we really wanted. It was relationship: deep, transparent, vulnerable, sold-out, covenant relationship and fellowship with another couple that was going in the same direction as us.

Lilian teaching Amethyst how Congolese cook
on charcoal in 2009. 
Somewhere along the lines this summer, Andrew and I really let go of our programs and agendas for Congo. Not to say that we don’t want to be here. I guess we just realized more than ever what was important. This country doesn’t need another plan or strategy for change—and that’s all we had. We were so sick of being development workers who happened to be Christians. We wanted to be Christians who develop and change the world. And we could not do this alone anymore.

I think that I can speak for all (Euclide and Lilian as well as Andrew and me) of us when I say this. 

We have been beaten around, bruised, disappointed, doubted by others, shipwrecked (vision-wise) and challenged in our family in many ways. I think that that was all necessary for this. It’s time to stop trying to walk with only one leg. Let’s put two legs together and learn to run… for the vision that God originally called us to do here.

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Fundraising Schedule Part1:FL to CA

Here is our current fundraising schedule. Part 2: our return trip is to come, stay tuned.

If we're near you, we would love to meet you. Also, if you'd like us to visit your church or small group please contact us at or call Amethyst at 262-309-1902.

Orlando, FL - January 13-15
Kissimmee House of Prayer - Wednesday, Jan 14 - 7:00pm

St Louis, MO - January 15-17
Kirkwood, MO
St Peters, MO

Conway, AR - January 17-21
Mosaic Church - Sunday, Jan 18 - 10:30AM
Chi Alpha UCA - Tuesday, Jan 20 - 7:30PM

Dallas, TX - January 22-26

Duncan, OK - January 26-28

Oklahoma City, OK - January 28-29
No Boundaries International
Avodah House of Prayer - Thursday, Jan 29 - 6:00-9:00PM

Phoenix, AZ - January 30

Hollywood, CA - January 31-February 3
Christ Chapel of the Valley - Sunday, Feb 1 - 10:00AM

NorCal - February 3-11
Mariposa, CA - February 3-5
- Mariposa A/G - Wednesday, Feb 4 - 6:00PM

Merced, CA - February 6-11

SoCal - February 11-16
Generation Church South Oceanside - Sunday, February 15 - 9:00AM & 10:30AM

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Signs of the Kingdom: Tesimonies in Congo

There are so many different situations and stories that happen to us in Congo on a day-to-day basis. It is difficult to keep up with them! A letter written by a friend and supporter who visited us in Congo this fall, really depicts small glimpses of life lived here.

Sam has been a faithful supporter and dear friend to the team 
in Congo. This was his second trip to see the progress of 
the ministry and also do some ministry too!

A Letter from Sam:
I had a set agenda for my time in the Congo. When I arrived, however, God began to redirect me. After being with my friends, Andrew and Amethyst for a few days, I began to understand that they were in need of much encouragement and refreshing despite the fact that their ministry is doing very well right now. It is not easy being a missionary at times. You often find yourself caught in between two worlds. You can’t quite relate to those in your home country, and you can’t quite relate to those in the country you live in either. It became clear to me that the main reason God had sent me there was to encourage my friends, and logically by touching the leaders of a ministry, you touch everyone underneath them as well.

Everywhere I went, there was ministry. Upon my arrival, we went to buy a SIM card for my cell phone. At the store, I saw a lame woman on the street. I wanted to pray for her. She let us pray, and as we did, more than twenty other people crowded around us! I wasn’t expecting this, but they wanted to see what these 'white men' wanted with a lame, beggar woman.

People from the crowd asked for prayer. One man asked us to visit his home and to pray for his wife to have a baby, which we did a couple days later. After praying, I knew it was time to preach the Gospel. I stood up on the curb and as Andrew translated for me, I shared about the love that God has for us despite our sinfulness. I was reminded of Romans 1:16, “I am not ashamed of the Gospel, for it is the power of God unto salvation for all who believe.”

On another day, I walked with Ibrahim, a member of the Community Center, to a school where he taught English (as a third or fourth language) to educated young adults and college students.  He invited me teach the class that day since I was visiting from U.S. and was a native English speaker. I spent time talking to the students after the class, telling them why I was in Congo: to share Christ with people.
The students appreciatively invited me back to class the next day. This time, they asked me to preach the Gospel to them, so the next day I came back and preached the Gospel to the entire class!

I planned to go to the Masisi Centre, where the Roths and their team started the Peacemaker Program, a ministry that helps transition children from the militia back into their community. This part of my trip was much shorter than anticipated, but still fruitful.

We met with several of the Peacemakers’ caretakers to encourage them. I brought my guitar and facilitated music for worship and prayer using some of the Swahili I had learned to worship God. We had a powerful time together!

Andrew, Claude (who oversees of the Peacemaker Program)
and I in Masisi. 
The next day was a training day for pastors. Again, I used my guitar to lead the people into a time of worship before the training. The training went very well. Afterward, I had the great privilege of meeting one of the Peacemakers in the program named Augustin. Holy Spirit guided me as I talked with him. I just loved him and shared things with him that the Lord had taught me that I thought would help him on his journey in life. I prayed over him and gave him a big hug before I left.

I was actually a little discouraged, because I only had a short time with him. But I decided to trust God ...and He didn’t disappoint.

I bought some souvenirs at a local shop before leaving Congo. One of them was a special wooden, carved mural with images reminding me of Goma, the city that I stayed in.

After returning to Andrew and Amethyst's house, I turned the carving over and the artist had carved his name on the back.

The name of the artist was Augustin, the same name as the Peacemaker that God had allowed me to minister to!

I knew right then that God was encouraging me, letting me know that my short time with Augustin was significant. I know one day that God is going to use him in great ways.

Wooden mural of Goma with “Augustin” carved in the back. 
The last part of my trip involved the Prayer House that is based out of the Community Center in Goma. I met with the prayer leaders one night to share with them my story and what the Lord has shown me about the powerful combination of prayer and worship. We took time to rest in God's presence and had an awesome time together.

On my last night, the Community hosted all-night prayer for different members and churches in the community. Throughout the night I taught on the seven lifestyle commitments designed to take those who are hungry for more of God to another level in their relationship with Him. It was the perfect setting for this kind of teaching.

The Father worked everything out just perfectly. 

Monday, October 27, 2014

Boy. Soldier. Student. Leader-- Peacemaker.

**Note: names have been changed in this post in order to protect the safety and identity of minors.

“I woke up in the bush and felt like I had no hope or future,” said Julius. “I prayed to God and said either just let me die in the bush or let me escape.”

Julius wasn’t to die in the bush, in fact a small group of him and his friends escaped from the rebel militia and after traveling over 50 kilometers on foot they finally arrived back in his village just near Masisi Centre.

Julius taking notes studiously as The Congo Tree
facilitators teach about social action.
“When I arrived back my mother didn’t know what to do. She was so happy to see me and I was so happy to see her. But unfortunately my father died in the war.”

Though happy to be back, Julius found himself unable to handle life back at home. Yes his mother was happy he had returned but didn’t know what to do with him.

“I used to behave very badly, trying to steal and I was very angry.”

Peacemakers brain storming on how to be a positive
influence within their communities.
He entered into a program run by the Catholic development arm that takes the children from the mentality they had in the village and brings them through counseling and exercises to allow them the ability to transition back into life outside of the militia.

“CTO helped me a lot but I still found myself wondering-- what kind of future could I possibly have? I didn’t have school fees or anything to do. Thanks to GOF-C, I am able to go to school. The teachings I get through GOF-C have helped me a lot.”

To help build upon the foundation we’ve already laid, every so often GOF-C has the ability to partner with other likeminded organizations. Recently we held a three-day Young Leaders Training (YLT) seminar with our friends Amy and Heidi from The Congo Tree, a UK based charity.

The Congo Tree seeks to inspire young leaders to change society using alternative and creative ways to build peace, lead with integrity, serve others and innovate in enterprise. The seminar was held in a retreat type atmosphere, away from the busyness of everyday life to focus on the concepts of leadership, teamwork, problem solving, communication and social action planning. 

Julius is very creative but tends to blend in as just another member of the crowd.

In one exercise, he seemed pensive and disinterested for half of the time until he saw the others having problems.

"Give me the rope, if we do it this way, we will succeed no problem, I'll show you." The others caught on and it was Julius in the lead.

In the post activity debrief the facilitators asked for someone to give positive feedback to another.
Toxic waste: remove a bucket from the middle of a circle,
you can't touch the bucket nor enter into the circle.

One peacemaker immediately took the floor.

"At first Julius didn't say anything and wasn't involved…" At this point I was thinking wait isn't this time for positive feedback? But the peacemaker continued, "But then he brought an important idea and it was his idea that helped us succeed."

The smile on Julius' face was ear to ear.

"Do you see the power of positive encouragement?" Amy inquired of the group.

"I feel encouraged and confident," said Julius and the other peacemaker commented how he felt good to make someone else feel good.

Social Action

To put leadership principles together with practical community implementation, in the YLT there is a social action plan project in which the Peacemakers were to split into three groups to develop a plan. The groups were to compete for $50 and the group with the best plan presentation would be awarded the amount. The young leaders came up with some really creative ideas that could make a high impact within the community.

A group of peacemakers working through a problem
solving challenge, the catch: no talking!
Julius was in a group that came up with a dynamic, high yield project. Julius, the main presenter for the group, said they planned to buy a pig and from the offspring they could turn their $50 into $300. This would then help to pay for school fees of other orphans like Julius.

“All of us used to be child soldiers and many people in the community don't think we can do anything. But with this project, it is an opportunity to show them that we can do something positive. We called our group Peace for a reason. We have hope that we will bring peace to our communities through showing that we can do something positive.”

Julius is just one Peacemaker who first hand felt the positive effects of hope. Let us pray that he and the others will continue to apply what they've learned when the going gets difficult and tough.

Romans 5:3-5 - “3 And not only this, but we also exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance; 4 and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope; 5 and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us.”

GOF-C Peacemakers and The Congo Tree team together after
 receiving their certificates of completion. 

Friday, October 10, 2014

What Does Excellence Look Like?

Am I social worker or a missionary? 
It has been our goal to see the kids in our program transformed in multiple areas of their lives: spiritually, mentally, physically, emotionally and relationally. It is not enough to just believe for it or to take what they say at face value. Excellence takes time, effort, energy and money to measure results. But it also stops to listen to the sound of the wind, sometimes changing directions when necessary.

We have set a number of goals for what we (both us and our Congolese colleagues) want for the children in our program: reconciliation with their families and communities, higher education, leadership skills and abilities, spiritual formation, etc….

We have also encouraged each child in the program to set a number of measurable goals for themselves.

Why is this important? 
“It is important that we help people set goals for themselves. Goals that they can achieve—or else the goals will become just another thing in life that they always wanted but could never have. It will become oppressive rather than empowering,” said Clarence Tedrow, a short-term team member who works as a Christian counselor.

Our team worked with the caretakers/counselors in our program to develop a case-management matrix that can document the progress of our children. The matrix measures multiple areas of their lives within their context: family relationships, substance abuse, housing, food security, domestic abuse, access to clean water, etc…, and then grades them on 1-4 scale. 1 being in crisis and 4 being stable.

This helps us to better understand the state of each individual in our program and to make informed decisions about walking with them through their journey to healing and restoration. This is essentially social work. We have worked with multiple social workers and child protection specialists, but have found that within our context, this is a very new concept and also an ambitious goal.

Many organizations like to save the world, but take little time to actually measure the scope of their impact. This is sadly even truer for Christian missionary organizations, in our experience. Furthermore, organizations that do measure impact can often avoid listening to the people that they are working with. Let us explain: they make goals for people and villages that the people never even cared to achieve or saw relevant.

Although we know that we are not perfect by any means-- we are also working hard not to repeat some of these mistakes.

Although in French, here is the fruit of our hard work in preparing the case-management matrix that we are using to monitor progress of the young men in the Peacemaker Program and the young women in the Esther Project.

Strategic Planning
We and members of the team have been burning the midnight oil of late to do some serious praying, thinking and strategic planning for next year. We have done this before—but never at this level. The process has taken over a month to complete.

The Listening Cycle
We started out with two days of critical reflection and spiritually discerning the times. It was a time of worship, meditating on the scriptures and sharing what God is doing individually in each one of us and how that affects our role in ministry. We took time to reflect on the times that we live in: what’s happening in the world, in the church and in the country. We also took time to talk about the people we serve, listen to what they are saying and what God is doing in their lives.

It was a refreshing time, something that is necessary for keeping the vision fresh, staying transparent with each other and also seeing what God wants to do in the future.

Putting pencil to the paper
This was the tough part. We created serious goals and objectives for next year along with timelines, activities and budgets. The result was a line-by-line chart three-quarters the height of a person. Dang! It is detailed!

Lastly, we are training our team in some very specific practicalities that will give them the power and ability to seek funding for projects themselves, rather than relying only on us (Andrew and Amethyst) to raise support. This allows all of us to share the workload even more.

Big Partnerships … a risk that we are willing to take
Andrew and I started this ministry being in control of nearly every aspect of it. This is usually necessary when starting something new. But we are slowly relinquishing control of it, delegating responsibilities, dreaming less, talking less but listening more. We listen to the dreams of the people that we work with, listen to how they relate to those that we serve, listen to how they talk to God and about God, listen to how they work together in times of struggle and strife.

It’s beautiful, actually!

We feel very strongly about putting a tenure on our leadership in this organization. Staying too long will hurt the likelihood of becoming a truly indigenous movement. We also know that stepping out too soon will set our team as well as those who depend on us, up for failure. The age-old question of leadership has always been: when does a leader step out and step away? Few people in this world have gotten it right: Nelson Mandela and George Washington are some examples, but there are not many.

It has been in our vision to set a foundation (ironically, we joined Global Outreach Foundation) where diverse people, tribes and nations will unite and walk this nation into her full calling and destiny. Our hope is that this people-centered foundation would be a pillar of peace, where there is not much peace— a pillar of love and transparency that would draw people from all nations to Jesus and His ways.

That said, Andrew and I have been praying about making a pretty large partnership with a Congolese couple. We don’t know exactly what this will look like and we are still working out the details, thus we must remain vague on the matter. But we intend for this to be a covenant relationship unlike one that we have ever had before.

We request your prayers. We are praying for wisdom and guidance in this process for them and also for us. It is a decision that could change a lot of things in our future. We pray that we will not be hasty or over-idealistic.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

A Day of Weeping and Mourning

*Note: although this event occurred nearly four months ago, it has taken time for us to digest it and find a way to respectfully share it with others. 

Our trips to Masisi are often some of the most intimate times with the local leaders and members of Global Outreach Foundation - Congo (GOF-C). We sleep in tents together (a complete culture shock for our Congolese comrades), we nestle near one another in sleeping bags, we cook together and literally dig our car out of the mud together. It makes for some great bonding time! Moses is a member of our team, who teaches guitar lessons at the Goma Community Center and is also the main worship leader for our ministry.

Clementine's grave marker at Goma Cemetery. 
Moses is also an engineer by trade. So, we decided to hire him as the foreman for the building project in Masisi.

He has taken multiple trips to Masisi with us and has worked hard to get the Masisi Community Center up. But our last trip with Moses to Masisi, is one that I can never quite forget.

The informal topic and/or joke of the trip was “Mapenzi yangu,” which can be translated as “My lover, my friend.” The Congolese decided to talk profusely about how Andrew and I call each other ‘love’ and ‘dove.’

“This is a good practice, I’m going to start doing that with my wife too.” Said, Marcellin, the Leadership Coordinator who was on the trip with us.

The subject went deeper between the married men that night. They talked for more than an hour about marriage and family life. I remember contently falling asleep while listening to the guys in my tent giggle and gloat about how much they loved their wives.

“She’s my best friend. I can talk to her about anything.” Moses told Marcellin.

They lived in a humble part of town called Ndosho, an area where police invade homes with guns to steal from the local population and where walking past 7 p.m. is a guaranteed way of getting held up and hijacked at gunpoint. They had three children and one adopted orphan. Moses' wife, Clementine was in her third trimester, pregnant with their fourth child.

If you understood African culture, you would understand how beautiful it is to hear men say this to each other openly. It was a moment where all the projects in the world couldn’t fill my heart as much as this. Deep. Genuine. Love. Between a man and a woman in the midst of a country where war, hate and violence has torn apart so many families. 

Senseless Death
Moses and members from the community at the burial.
After a long hard week in the villages, we all went home. Andrew and I went out for a date night in Kigali that weekend.

Moses came home to his wife’s delivery. It was late at night when she delivered and without proper transport and small means, they went to a small clinic down the street. Unfortunately, that clinic did not have the proper medical supplies. When she gave birth, she needed stitching. The clinic did not have the right equipment nor any IVs. So there they were, in a city of 1 million people unable to get to an adequate hospital. It took nearly two hours before they could find transport to a proper hospital—but by the time she arrived, it was too late. Clementine had already bled to death.

She left behind Moses, a beautiful baby girl and four other children.

Her last words to Moses were “go and do the work of the Lord,” when he called her earlier that day when she was having sporadic contractions.

 “Should I come home and let someone else lead worship at church?” he asked.

He thought that she might need to be admitted to the hospital soon. “Go and do the work of the Lord.” She said.

The Guitar
Moses (left) and Marcellin (right) the day
Moses got his brand new guitar!
Less than a year before Clementine's death, a short-term team member came to visit us in Goma. She felt that God told her to bring a guitar with her. Both she and her church raised a large amount of money to buy a good quality guitar.

She had no idea why. When she told us about her idea, we suggested to bless Moses with her guitar. He was a wonderful guitar player and worship leader—but he owned no guitar. She brought him a guitar not knowing what would happen in the future. Not knowing it would become one of the only things that would keep him sane through the pain he would endure in the coming year.

Congolese Culture and Mourning
The tribe that Moses comes from mourns similarly to the Jews. They are outward, open and raw about it. They don’t eat, don’t change clothes and roll on the floor and wail.

When a woman dies giving birth to a child who survives—the culture removes the child from all funeral practices. The child does not receive a name and the child remains with a distant family member away from the mourning parent and siblings for one week until the mourning is culturally finished.

The community comes to the home of the mourner for one straight week: cooking, giving donations to the funeral, organizing, praying and just being present for the mourners. Everyone contributes to tragedies like these. Everyone: neighbors, co-workers, family members, church members, friends and even friends of friends. As leaders of GOF-C, an organization that hired him as a builder and also friends of his family, we were also required to contribute. Our entire team sacrificed up to 30 percent of their monthly income from GOF-C to help Moses and his family.

We cancelled all programs for the week in order to help arrange the funeral, offer our vehicle, babysit the children and mourn alongside Moses.

It was a time that really affected Andrew and other members of our team with wives. We knew that this death could have been prevented if Clementine had only gone to a better hospital. Andrew and I felt particularly guilty for not being in the city when she was giving birth.

We could have easily picked Clementine up at night and brought her to a better hospital. It is a practice that we regularly do for friends and members of the Community Center: driving people to the hospital at night.

Andrew fell on the ground and cried with Moses for more than an hour in his house.

“Why did this happen, Andrew? I loved my wife so, so, so much.” He would say. “God has left me. And she has left me.”

Moses has turned repeatedly to his guitar and to worship through his sufferings this year. We have seen an amazing depth come out of his worship that we have never seen before. He has put together a humble choir at the community center and they have written a number of songs.

Moses spends most of his time finding work and serving God through leading worship at church and serving at the GOF-C Community Center. He is the foreman of our building in Masisi and a faithful and trustworthy friend to us.

His story is not rare. And that’s a travesty. Families lose their mamas all over Goma and all over the country. But never before had a statistic come some close to us. Never before have we found ourselves saying ‘if only I would’ve…’

We learned a lot through this death, about God, about community, about family, about culture, about each other and about worship. Some things that I can talk about publicly on a blog… others that I will not talk about.

But what I do know is that as members of the community here in Goma, we will continue to stand with the Congolese through their suffering. Although we can’t take away their pain, we can use the resources that God has given us to help them when it is possible. And in the times when it is not possible we can at least cry with them.

Twitter Facebook Delicious Digg Stumbleupon Favorites More