We were in Kinshasa when we received the report from a church leader in the field and I had to read it twice to make sure he was talking about our own people.
A young student, who attended a well known Christian college became ill and was taken to a nearby mission hospital where he died the following day from an undisclosed febrile disease. A few days before he had fallen ill he reportedly was in a heated argument with an uncle from a neighboring village. When 30-40 of his college classmates came to recover the body from the morgue and carry it back to campus, some speculated that his fatal illness was somehow caused by this uncle, a well known and powerful ‘witchdoctor’ . For whatever reason the crowd of students diverted from the road and proceeded to the uncle’s village where they confronted him, verbally accosted him, and as often happens with mob mentality, ’things got out of hand’. They beat up the uncle and then proceeded to burn down his house. Wanting to set an example for the village, they then proceeded to burn down 96 other homes, set fire to crops, kill livestock, empty fish ponds, and reportedly raped a woman while others jeered. Scandalous, unheard of action by a handful of Christian college students!
The demand for reprisal has been swift as it should be. There are calls to arrest the students, suspend all classes, fire the teachers, compensate those who lost homes and possessions, lock the doors for good, and walk away from another chapter of failed work.
There seem to be many examples of ‘failed work’ in our short 14 years in the Congo. Schools have been closed, churches scandalized, hospitals pillaged, clinics shut down, and decades of work seemingly undone overnight. “This is Africa, what do you expect?” I’ve heard certain long-term visitors say. Others simply depart some cursing, some crying, some shaking the dust from their sandals.
I wonder if our western propensity for efficiency and immediate results doesn’t put undue expectations or constraints on the Spirit of God. “If we are not able to plow the fields, sow the seeds, and reap the crops in one day”, one season, or even one generation, we consider the effort in vain’. It seems to me that God was never in a hurry with the disciples, and I am thankful that He is not in a hurry with me when I consider my own mistakes and repetitive falls along this journey of life.
Our work is to sow the word of God and flavor it with patience, endurance, commitment, and love. All the seed we sow may not produce fruit and indeed, for a cohort of Christian college students, years of training and investment may seemingly be lost. But who is to say which seed falls in the right soil, what are the right conditions for germination, and how long must we wait to see a harvest? God may not reveal all in our lifetime.
God is not
done with Africa, just as he is not done with me. His
calling doesn’t engender a list of objectives to accomplish in a set timeframe,
but rather a willingness to follow not knowing where that road may lead ….or
what life will be like along the way.
With faith and anticipation of things to come,
Ann and Bill Clemmer
Democratic Republic of Congo
“ Except a grain of wheat fall into the earth and die, it abideth by itself alone; but if it die, it beareth much fruit” John 12:24
Ref .Samuel Bagster “Travelers Devotional”