A few weeks ago, on 21 June, violent riots swept through parts of Pretoria and the surrounding municipality in protest of a Zulu being nominated for mayor in an area that is predominately Sotho. Buses were burned, businesses (mostly foreigner-owned businesses) were looted and ransacked, and many streets made impassable by violent crowds. Several innocent people died.
Last week, in the early predawn hours of 3 July, a deadly fire raged through an informal settlement in Pretoria, destroying 300 shacks and claiming four lives.
But something beautiful has arisen amid the rubble and ash of recent events in Pretoria. The Church has responded in a show of unity and love for her community. Rather than statements of condemnation against looters, rioters, and corrupt government officials, I am hearing prayers for mercy and revival. And when hundreds of homeless lost their illegal shacks together with what little they owned, within hours a venue at a nearby church was overrun with clothing, blankets, food, and other supplies. Beautiful.
This after a month in which 170 churches in Pretoria, in an unprecedented display of unity, preached on the same topics in their churches for all five Sundays in May. There was sharing of pulpits. There were combined prayer meetings. There was one church.
Both Jesus and John noted that the defining visible characteristic of people who've truly been with Jesus is LOVE. It's beautiful to see love on display.
The enemy is always at work trying to destroy lives and undermine God's ways and wisdom. If we are not careful, we respond in kind, playing right into his hands. We respond to divisive rioting with vigilantism or condemnation. We respond to corrupt government with dishonoring conversations and actions. We respond to tragedy with apathy or judgement ("serves 'em right!").
But the real power comes in moving in the opposite spirit. We respond to division with internal unity and by seeking common ground with others. We respond to corruption in government by conducting ourselves honourably and praying for our leaders. We respond to tragedy with generosity. What does the Lord require of us, but to do justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with our God? (Micah 6:8)
I pray that you discover His power and grace to respond to whatever ugly is around you with the beauty of God.
Where we went
We traveled to Kinshasa, then spent a week in Kananga before finishing our journey in Lubumbashi. Kinshasa, located in the far southwest, is the capital city of the DRC (the Democratic Republic of the Congo). Kananga, a large but profoundly poor city, is the capital of DRC's Kasaï-Occidental province and lies near the Lulua River in the south central part of the country. Lubumbashi is in DRC's extreme southeast, a large city fueled by a booming mining industry.
Who we worked with
Pastor Willy Tshipamba pastors Ambassade du Royaume de Dieu (Embassy of the Kingdom of God) church in Kananga and leads a network of churches that covers most of southern DRC. Pastor Willy invited Pastors Johan and Electa Potgieter of Hatfield Christian Church to continue the Church Development Plan. Chandra and I were part of this team, and we ministered to nearly one hundred pastors between the three cities.
What's the Church Development Plan?
It takes good leaders and healthy churches to effect kingdom advance. As such, the Church Development Plan takes a "hearts, heads, and hands" approach to developing pastors and leaders who will build strong churches. Rather than solely dispensing information, the Church Development Plan focuses first on impartation and heart formation of church leaders. When the heart is healthy, then information (heads) becomes more relevant and useful, and there is proper motivation for increasing practical skills (hands). I also adopted this approach for the worship workshops I was able to give in Kananga and Lubumbashi.
The school in Kananga
Several years ago, Pastor Willy's church in Kananga started a school in their city. They modeled the school after Hatfield Christian School here in Pretoria. They planned for a small beginning of fifty students, but finally had to stop enrollment at one hundred. The school has been so successful that the government has asked its leadership to help them establish more schools based on the same model.
During our stay in Kananga, Chandra was invited to minister to around fifty teachers and faculty at the school. She spoke on the value of a child. There was a beautiful impartation as she ministered, and afterward she was able to pray with many teachers and staff members. We are looking forward to visiting the school next year and building relationships.
I was able to encourage senior pastors and leaders in all three cities on corporate worship and relating to worship leaders. These sessions were fun and fruitful! In Lubumbashi, there were also several worship leaders, musicians, and vocalists in attendance. An extra session was scheduled in Kananga with the local church's worship team and choir. We had a great time practically applying the principles we looked at! I have been invited back next year to host an extend worship workshop in both Kananga and in Lubumbashi.
Visit this album on Facebook for more photos of our time in DRC.