February 2009 Newsletter
Missionary to the Democratic Republic of Congo
"And the things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable men who will also be qualified to teach others."
2 Timothy 2:2
Successful Youth Rallies in Kimpese!
“Michel, the last time you were in Kimpese, you were single. I hear you’ve decided to quit the single life. Can you tell us about that?” That was my question to Michel Kuzy Mwinda (whose name means “Light”) when I interviewed him on my radio program, “Youth: a Jewel and a Treasure,” on January 15. His name means “Light,” and his voice “lit up” as told our listeners that he and his wife, Hortense, were married in September 2007, and in June 2008 they welcomed a baby girl, Allégresse, Great Joy, into their home.
Michel and four other outstanding youth leaders from the Responsible Living Skills team came to Kimpese for two youth rallies on January 16 and 17, which are government holidays in the Democratic Republic of the Congo: the anniversaries of the violent deaths of Prime Minister Patrice Lumumba in the 1960s and President Laurent Kabila in 2001. The school holidays proved a good time to organize the rallies, one at the Evangelical Medical Institute (IME) and the other at the Evangelical Cooperative Center (CECO), where I teach and work.
The theme of the two rallies was “Youth confronted with anti-values: Overcoming evil with good.” Two hundred twenty young people heard the challenge to resist the prevalent tides in today’s society: cheating, corruption, irresponsible sexuality and tribalism. Over 100 were tested for the AIDS virus by a team from the local AIDS Forum, and we’re happy to report that none of them are sero-positive! A man who is living with HIV shared a brief word at the second rally, challenging participants about the importance of knowing their HIV status. If they aren’t infected with HIV, then they need to know how to remain “negative,” and if they test positive, they can “live positively” by taking care of themselves and preventing others from being infected.
We continued a popular tradition at our rallies: a raffle, offering prizes donated by local businesses: health and beauty supplies, food items like sardines, spaghetti, cookies and candy, school supplies and Christian booklets about friendship, dating, studying and other concerns. Not everybody received a prize, but for their 100 Congolese franc admission charge (less than 20 cents), each participant received a small baguette (bread) to help them through the day.
At the end of the day, the speakers gave an invitation for young people to commit themselves to Christ and a Christian lifestyle. Many responded, and it’s our job to continue working with them and encouraging with them.
I’ve been back in Kimpese for six months now, teaching at the Bible Institute. We have fourteen students in the three-year pastoral training program, including two women. In January I began teaching an ethics course at the Protestant University of Kimpese to 27 freshmen who are studying in two majors: Electricity and Marketing.
Films continue to be a popular and effective means of communicating with city and village populations of all ages. We continue to show the Jesus film and a film about youth and AIDS, and I’ve added six films given by the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association. We’ve shown one called “Something to Sing About” six times and “Joni” three times, at youth retreats, at a school for the handicapped, and outdoors to hospital patients at IME. One showing was interrupted by a violent thunderstorm and a power failure! We’ve also shown “Hotel Rwanda” twice, with its message about the atrocities of genocide: We don’t want that to happen here!
There has been encouraging news from the eastern part of the Congo, where war has been raging for far too long. Rebel leader Laurent Nkunda has been arrested, and there is a move to unite the armed forces of the country. The war hasn’t directly affected us in the western part of the country, but it is a major prayer concern. Even those of us who are in the same country feel helpless to do anything to stop it. Pray for my BIM colleague Dr. Bill Clemmer, who travels to the war zone bringing medical and spiritual hope to people who have run out of it!
Christmas mail was delayed getting to me this season; by Christmas day I had received one Halloween card, two Thanksgiving cards and three Christmas cards! A much larger number came on January 15, brought from Kinshasa by the Responsible Living Skills Team, and I know there’s more on the way. I love prolonging the spirit of Christmas, don’t you? This week I got some more Christmas chocolates! Thanks for your love and prayers and support! Be sure and get in touch with my Missionary Partnership Team, for updated news!
Missionary Partnership Network email - firstname.lastname@example.org
Correspondence and checks for financial support for Wendy may also be made out to
Elko First Baptist Church (100% of funds go to Wendy) and mailed to:
Wendy Bernhard MPN
c/o Elko First Baptist Church
685 Juniper Street
Elko, NV 89801
Thank you for your prayers and support!