On my way to Uvira (you-veer-a) Mbirima and I receive word as we were about to travel from Kigali, Rwanda to the Congo border, that Uvira was under attack. Bullets were flying as rebel forces advanced upon the city. Everyone was shut up in their home, including the wife of Mbirima, Alice, who is 9 months pregnant. There was no way to reach the city.
OK. Plan B. Let’s go to the border, a six hour cramped bus ride, and wait to see if things calm down. Well, the rebels were pushed out but then the city was crawling with UN and Congolese soldiers, some of whom were looting homes even though they were supposed to be there to protect the Congolese people. TIA (this is Africa). The immigration officer did not want to take responsibility for allowing me to enter a dangerous place. It was a great disappointment to me and many others who had traveled there waiting for the three day seminar to begin.
The best we could do was to bring a couple of the key leaders to the border town in Rwanda named Kimembe.
I felt like Moses on the mountain top able to see the promised land but not able to enter. Here I was a stones’ throw away from Congo, ready and willing to go in, but I did not step one foot there. If I had come the week prior as I had originally planned perhaps I would have been right in the middle of all those bullets!
I had to ask the question: “Why Uvira?” Why, out of all the places in Congo, did that rebel group decide to attack one day before I was to enter? Perhaps the principalities in the heavenly places (Ephesians 6:12) wanted to stop what God had planned. It could not have been about me but about what God wanted to do. We were down but not out!
As my two brothers traveled from Uvira they missed the first bus only to discover that it had been held up by bandits. Everyone was robbed! Sometimes they strip the people naked and send them on their way! Even the bus driver, driving naked! Before they reach town they send for someone to bring them all clothes. Can you imagine this white man riding in a jammed packed bus stark naked? No, please don’t.
We had a great time with Mbirima, Bosco, and Baguma. They were so hungry and thankful for the teaching, and plan to return and share with the others what they have learned.
It seems the Lord is opening many doors and our ministry is growing. Not only do we have a church in Uvira of about 30 people, all of whom are committed to making disciples and doing Discovery Bible Study, but we have Bosco in Bukavu (South Kivu) who is also starting new groups. Among the people in Uvira is a former witch doctor who gave his life to Christ and is committed to going great distances to start DBS groups. Doors are also opening in Rwanda as Mbirima was invited to come teach at the refugee camp there and train others to do DBS. On his way home Mbirima went to meet with a man who is also hungry for God in Bujumbura, Burundi, a small nation to the east of Congo.
About 35 years ago I was prayed over by a friend and mentor of mine, Ralph Torres. He prayed Psalm 2:8 over me: “Ask of Me, and I will give you the nations for your inheritance, and the ends of the earth as your possession.” I have been praying that prayer for 35 years and look at what God is doing. I am humbled. I’m just a little guy with a heart to be used by God, and He has chosen to reach some through me that otherwise might never have been reached. If we all do our part, discover our calling, and make disciples as we were commanded to do, I believe we will advance the second coming of the Lord. Are you in?