Here in South Africa, a noted Christian leader recently hosted an incredible prayer meeting (over 1 million in attendance!). What a testimony of unity and care for the nation.
A lot of debate was sparked, however, when the leader called for prayers for South Africa to become a "Christian nation" with a "Christian government." There is indeed a need for healthy, conscientious engagement on the subject of how God intends for the Church to relate with the state.
But I want to suggest that there are some much more fundamental questions that we should maybe engage first.
The prophet Micah once exhorted God's people by saying, "And what does God expect of you, but to do justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with your God?" (Micah 6:8)
Before we move to reform governments or systems, we must reform ourselves.
Love mercy. If you want to see someone get this wrong, ride in the car with me. No one knows how to drive properly, except me. I've prayed prayers of repentance and am trusting the Holy Spirit to work His fruit of patience and gentleness in me! But do we always love mercy, or do want people to get what's coming to them? One of the many Texas colloquialisms I grew up with was, "You made your bed; now you can lie in it." Is that how we view those who have fallen on hard times due to poor choices? Or those whose lifestyle choices don't align with our worldview? I'm asking myself this question: Do I love mercy, or do I only want mercy?
If we are not doing justly, loving mercy, and walking humbly with our God--if we are not living with honesty and integrity while loving and serving the community around us--we cannot call for a reform of government.
We still need to reform ourselves.
One of the harsh realities of profound poverty is frequent trauma. A study recently conducted in one of the vulnerable communities near Pretoria found that seventy percent of its children suffer from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.
The challenge of a traumatized society becomes even more difficult when the role models in the lives of children and families do not know how to recognize and minister to those who suffer. Day care and safe house workers often correct or punish unwanted behavior without being equipped to identify and minister to its underlying causes. Sometimes in churches, women and children who cry out in grief are sent to deliverance ministry before being asked what is wrong!
The dilemma of communities, churches, and crèches ill-equipped to minister to trauma is an opportunity for the church to bring life. Over the past two years, Chandra has worked with one of our partner organisations here in South Africa to train safe house personnel in caring for the traumatized children who come to them. More recently, she and a social worker were invited to train a group of pastors from a suffering community north of Pretoria. The pastors diligently took notes, asked questions, and requested that they please come back and bring more training.
What an exciting opportunity! Please pray with us that the God of all Comfort and the Prince of Peace will turn the tide of trauma away from this beautiful country. We so love being part of advancing His kingdom in this nation!
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.
"It's not glamorous."
We've heard so many maxims about the nature of ministry and missions. It's spelled, W-O-R-K. It's not all fun and games.
We live in this incredible space where we greatly enjoy the place we live and the work we do, and at the same time are overwhelmed at the enormity of the task at hand.
Kids' songs and candy treats won't turn this around. Money will accomplish nothing. The real problem lies in the spirit.
When we're told of an 11-year-old raping a 3-year-old, taxis raining bullets on one another as pedestrians walk by disinterested, newborn children daily abandoned at a garbage dump, you can know the problem lies deeper than economics or culture.
That's where you come in.
You are our biggest asset. A spiritual problem is only solved in the spirit. Will you join us in praying for the families and community in which we work?
Pray that the back of poverty--that filthy demonic stronghold--is broken. Pray for mothers to stand up and defend their daughters, and for fathers to understand their value and turn to their children. Pray for the Lord to give us strategies to bring revelation to the community we work in and empower them to break the strongholds over their region.
It's not all fun and games. But it is our great privilege and joy. Thanks for being a huge part of our team!