Our Lord was faithful in 2020 and He Is faithful in 2021!
Greetings in the new year from California! Mike and I have been so blessed to be able to celebrate the holidays with our children in California and their families, and to have a much needed break from our ministries in the Congo.
You can imagine how surprised we were by the events that took place last week in the capitol. It feels almost unreal to me, like something you’d see in a movie. One of my Congolese friends echoed my thoughts when she said, “In Congo, we’re used to these types of events, but not in the U.S. What’s going on?!!” It’s unsettling to see the same things happening here that we’ve witnessed in the developing world. These events combined with the disruptions of the pandemic can be pretty overwhelming. Thankfully, our God is faithful and He is not surprised! We hold tight to His empowering words: “In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”
Looking back over the year, 2020 was certainly like nothing we’ve ever experience. I’m sure, wherever you are in the world, you can say the same thing. I praise God that despite all the disruptions, He made a way for us to move forward in ministry and to complete several projects, some we’d been working on for many years.
I’m so proud of our ministry partners in Congo (the Congolese Baptist Women’s Association) for their faith and perseverance in leadership, even when we were in total lock-down. They used that time to learn new technology for communication and focused on areas of our ministries that we otherwise wouldn’t have made time for. A major achievement was the development of a new board of directors specifically for managing the 12 acre Mitendi property and its ministries – something we’ve been working on for many years, but until now, didn’t have the right combination of leadership and circumstances to make it happen. God’s timing is perfect! Please keep this very capable group of leaders in your prayers as they seek to use the ministry resources that the Lord has given them according to His will.
Due to the pandemic, Mitendi Women’s Center and Mitendi Primary School were also shut down for several months. It was disheartening, but didn’t stop our staff from finding new ways to stay connected with our students and trainees. The families involved with Mitendi ministries are already among the most vulnerable in Kinshasa and have suffered greatly during this season of confinement. Tata Bienvenu and other staff members have been making phone calls, visiting families (outside their homes) for prayer and covid-safety training. They have also distributed food packets and reusable masks that were sewn by our apprentices at our Bandal Training Center.
Another significant project that was completed in 2020 was the construction of a new bathroom facility for Mitendi primary school, which includes separate stalls and entrances for boys and girls. The temporary structure that the students had used had become unbearable! What a blessing to have such a clean and proper bathroom facility after all these years!
The project that was really near and dear to my heart this year was the construction of an extension on the Mitendi director’s home. When I toured the finished house with Director Bienvenu for the first time, we started with the two tiny rooms that had originally made up his entire house. Those rooms have now been transformed into the kitchen and a small bedroom. It was hard to imagine a family of 4 living in that minuscule space. I struggled hard to contain my emotions thinking about how they had quietly endured such cramped, nearly inhumane, conditions for over 11 years. As he showed me into the new extension, which includes a living room, two bedrooms and a bathroom, Tata Bienvenu spread out his hands and said triumphantly, “See how the Lord has answered my prayers!” Director Bienvenu and his family are overjoyed at the completion of their new home. I can’t tell you how grateful I am to our faithful Lord for the provision he has made to relieve the suffering of this faithful servant and his family. My sincere thanks to those donors who made these projects possible!
These are just a handful of projects that testify to God’s ever-present-faithfulness over the past year. Michael and I feel greatly privileged to have been part of them. We are also deeply grateful to all of you who continue faithfully to partner with us, and make ministry and projects such as these a possibility. None of them would have happened without you!
Moving forward into 2021, Michael and I will be on home assignment here in the U.S. We’re looking forward to reconnecting with each of you. It had been our hope to be able to see you face to face, but for now, we’ll have to be satisfied with doing virtual visits. If you or your church group would like to schedule a virtual visit with us (or in-person visit, as Covid restrictions allow), please don’t hesitate to contact us.
May the Lord bless you and keep you in this New Year!!!
Jill and Mike
**Please pray for Mitendi Women’s Center, Mitendi Primary School, and the Bandal Training Center as they resume their courses later this month.
**Please pray for protection from Covid for students and staff.
**Please also pray for an increase in giving toward much needed scholarship funds.
If you’d like to give toward scholarships for at-risk young women and girls in our Mitendi Women’s Center program, you may do so through the following link:
If you’d like to help provides scholarships for Mitendi Primary School, for families who are unable to pay school fees, we are in great need. You can do so through the following link: