How the Congo is Healing Me

8/25/2015 10:33:00 PM sendtheroths 5 Comments

I witnessed a drunken man flailing around a stick of dynamite in his hand a few days ago on the beach and a thief attempting to snatch my purse and run with it (I kept holding on until he attracted too much attention to himself) today. Just a few weeks ago, I woke up to the earth shaking to a 5.7 magnitude earthquake and the sound of gunfire literally all over the city, including just down my street.

There are things that would be news in one person’s household for years, ‘Remember that time when...’ We have fond memories that are told over and over again that happen here but remain unshared with our followers because there’s just so many things that happen. And so many things have happened.

I walk with friends that I have known for years and suddenly a memory comes to mind. “Once there was an old man that said,” in reference to a saying I heard about sleep. “He said that the time to sleep will be when we are dead.” My friend went on to explain that the rebels came and chopped him up with a machete leaving him for dead. “When night came and the cold air woke him up, he crawled to the village where people could treat him.” My friend's point was that that old man wasn’t ready to sleep yet.

But the gruesome details!

I shared a Coke at a small restaurant with another friend once. “My family’s bones are buried under this restaurant,” she said in a matter-of-fact way. She told me about how cholera killed more than 10 members of her family in less than a month.

“They threw them in a mass grave, which is where this restaurant sits today.”

Congo has been referred to as the heart of darkness in the past.
I have seen news articles describe Goma as an apocalyptic city.
Foreigners are discouraged to come here and instead visit Congo’s neighboring countries and mission organizations close their doors to young missionaries who want to move here.
Aid organizations share the stories of mass rape, traumatic fistulas (when the wall between the anus and vagina breaks) caused from soldiers raping women with objects like the barrel of a gun, ransoms and other strange injustices.

But somehow… this country is healing me. And I can’t imagine not being here.

Matthew 25:31-46 "For I was hungry, and you gave Me something to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave Me something to drink; I was a stranger, and you invited Me in; naked, and you clothed Me; I was sick, and you visited Me; I was in prison, and you came to Me."

I came to Congo thinking that I would feed the hungry, but instead they took me in and gave me their food: goat belly, curdled milk and yucca leaves.

I thought that I would give living water to the thirsty, but instead I’ve found wells of joy and springs of life to quench a thirst for family, brotherhood, son/daughtership that I’ve had my whole life.

I was the foreigner, unable to know the difference between a liar and person telling the truth—ignorant and helpless who could easily be taken advantage of—and they took me in, protected me from thieves and con-artists—taught me how to live and be a part of them.

I was naked before everyone… in my pride and inexperience. A typical young adult fresh out of college with so many ideas and full of words that were well thought out, but idol nonetheless. The Congolese taught me to clothe myself in humility and the wisdom not always to speak, but instead let the group come to viable conclusions.

I was in prison.

In the prison of my own loneliness and sick with isolation. They rescued me. They gave me a family—they father and mother me. They teach me about living in community everyday. They are healing me.

I can’t say that I haven’t brought anything to Congo—because I have. But Congo has turned Matthew 25 upside-down for me. Sometimes you have to be humbled enough to be on the receiving end before you can have the privilege of being on the giving end.

Christ loved us first. Though I loved the Congolese before I came here, I didn’t know what it was like to be loved by them. I didn’t know what it was like to be healed by their love, or shielded by their protection.

Today, I do.

 And that only deepens this river of life that I’ve been swimming in.


  1. I love your blog, I found it when searching for information on the Congo dialect of Swahili! I will be praying for you guys! We have a lot of refugees from all over Africa in my town, but especially the part you live in now. Please also pray for my friend Waso, he's a Shia Muslim from Bukavu, and hasn't seen any of his family since he fled alone to Zambia when he was about 12.

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