Love and War

7/20/2013 03:48:00 PM sendtheroths 0 Comments

The sky was overcast and the feeling was tense. Could our group be being watched?

The answer is yes. Our group was being watched. A spy from a prominent rebel group, M23, sent one of their men in civilian clothes to find out why a group of Mzungus (whites/foreigners) were on top of a mountain, harvesting beans in the rain.

The men worked on the chukudu and tried to ignore
Andrew and the group. 
Andrew and our disciples went to Kibati, a village just 15 km from Goma, to find a way to make a relationship with the community, or at least whoever was left after the war had caused more than half of the community to flee. Andrew and the team stumbled upon four young men building a chukudu. A chukudu is a large wooden bike/scooter used by local people in this region to transport large items, sometimes up to 500 pounds.

The men were angry.

“If you don’t have any money or food to give us, then you should just leave,” they said.

Andrew did not back down so easily. He asked what the problem was. Why they were unable to get food from their farms. The men expressed how they were starving because their beans were being wasted in their farms.

“We’ve spent all this time planting beans and now we cannot even go get them for harvesting. We worked hard …and we are still starving.” They were discouraged.

The men continued to explain that when they would harvest their beans, the militia would suddenly arrive on their farm and force them to give all of the fruit of their labor to the soldiers. 

A chukudu is local tool used for
carrying heavy items.
“Why don’t we go with you to get the beans?” Andrew said to the men. “We have a car and those militia won’t bother you if they see that you’re with us.”

The men looked at him like he was crazy. They were probably thinking, 'Are you sure about that?'

Andrew waited in silence for 15 minutes as the men sat with their heads down.

Our group sat in awkward silence, wondering many things:
Is this a good idea? 
Are these men just going to reject us again? 
Do they want us to leave? 

The men finally looked up.

 “Let’s go.”

 The men ran to their houses and got their baskets, bags and rain gear, then everyone piled into our Toyota 4Runner and drove up the mountain. Andrew and our group from GOF-C, harvested a bushel of beans that day. The men were so happy that they even gave us a bag full of beans. Although M23 did come to inquire why we were there, we were never bothered.

Kibati, a once thriving village has become a ghost town
due to its strategic bufferzone location during war.
We sent the men on their way that day with more than a Bible verse or an evangelistic message. We sent them with Love, displayed by actions. We became more than foreigners that day to those men. We became friends. And suddenly, the Gospel came alive.

We said our goodbyes to those men only a few days ago, as they took their chukudus out of their small village and fled.

That night bombs fell all through the night.

I don’t know when Andrew will see these men again. I don’t even know where they are hiding. But I do know that the bombs won’t last forever.

Giselle and Grace are members of the Goma Training
Center. They work faithfully beside us to minister in places
where many Congolese men don't are afraid to go,
let alone women. 
We will all return to Kibati again. We will build a Training Center there. And these men will one day play a monumental role in letting us into their community.

Not because we have money.
Not because we are white.
Not because we negotiated our way into the community.

Only, because we went with them to shamba (farm) when the rebels threatened their livelihood. Only, because for one day, we empowered them to feed their families.

Only, because for one day the preacher got off the pulpit and pulled weeds in a farm within ear shout of rebels.