MAF Helps Nyankunde Radio Station Spread Christ’s Love
On a cool morning in May of 2004, Jean-Luc Simbiliabo took one last glance at his family, then swung a leg over his bicycle and pedaled away down the dirt path, carrying with him one tarp, a pound of sugar, and some manioc flour. He had 90 miles to cover before he reached Nyankunde, where he would reestablish his family’s home and follow the vision God was giving him and a few other Christian brothers to reclaim their beloved village for the Lords’ work.
For over a year, Jean-Luc and his family had been living in the IDP (Internally Displaced Person) camp at Oicha, Democractic Republic of the Congo, waiting for the time when they could return to Nyankunde after the terrible massacre that took place there in September 2002. It was hard to leave his family, but he knew God was calling him to move to Nyankunde and begin the healing process … and to pray over the village.
After a few exhausting days on his bicycle, Jean-Luc was within a few miles of finally reaching Nyankunde when a Congolese soldier stopped him. The soldier struck Jean-Luc on the shoulder with the butt of his gun, and stole his supplies. Frightened, but undaunted, Jean-Luc proceeded on in obedience to God.
After arriving, he joined with two other believers to begin the work to which the Lord had called him—to pray. “Operation Caleb” commenced with a prayer walk throughout the village to reclaim the land for the Lord. This would be part of the foundation God used to grow the ministry known today as Organisation, Evangélisation, Intercession et Libération (OEIL), which has helped thousands find forgiveness and release from fear and hatred through Jesus Christ. MAF plays a key role in supporting this ministry with flights for pastor teams who travel throughout the eastern DRC to carry out workshops.
But in those first weeks and months, Jean-Luc says the spiritual oppression and heaviness was hard to bear. “Everywhere, you found bones and reminders of death and the bondage of fear.”
Jean-Luc first lived near the Evangelical Medical Center, joining about 50 others who had already returned. But then, he felt the Lord prompting him to move to the hill above the mission station, on the outskirts and away from everyone else. “Really, Lord?” Jean-Luc asked. Yet he continued to obey.
“Looking back, I realize now that God was asking me to move there to ‘secure the back door’ to Nyankunde, to protect it by covering it in prayer.” Behind his newly adopted home—a completely ransacked mission house—the militia first descended upon Nyankunde.
He found this house, years later, long abandoned by one of the many western missionaries that did not return, and obtained another tarp from an aid organization. He made a make-shift roof, and covered the door and windows. Then his family joined him, and the local population continued to grow as more people slowly began to return from IDP camps.
It was not easy, as the area was still unstable. In fact, in 2009 while Jean-Luc was away conducting an OEIL workshop, militia robbed his home and kidnapped his two teen daughters. One escaped after a few hours and the other was miraculously released a day later, but because of this, others urged the family to move to a safer location. But Jean-Luc and his wife did not feel released from God’s call to be there.
Around this time, MAF’s John W. visited the family while he was there conducting a security risk assessment for MAF. “He encouraged us to continue in the Lord’s work in Nyankunde and prayed with our family in our home,” said Jean-Luc.
Jean-Luc had a burden for reaching the militia in the bush with the healing love of Christ, and he prayed for a way to do so. Then, one day the inkling of an idea reached him: to preach from the mountain-top with a megaphone! And out of this Radio Tele Evangile Reconciliation was born.
“MAF has helped greatly with the evangelical radio station. “We get news and stories via Internet connection, which MAF provides for us. Sermons and Bible studies come to us from different countries via the postal service, on board MAF airplanes. Also mail, newspapers, and letters,” said Jean-Luc.
Many of Jean-Luc’s broadcasts are based on John 10:10: “It is Satan, the thief, who is behind all the stealing, destruction, and killing… But through Jesus, there is LIFE and not just normal life—but abundant, full life…and wholeness and forgiveness,” exclaims Jean-Luc.
In December of 2011 a rally in Nyankunde brought over 200 ex-militia to the village to confess their wrongdoing and ask for forgiveness. They gave testimonies of their new faith in Christ, and many of these were aired over the radio. This brought a reconciliation and healing breakthrough to a wide-reaching area. Jean-Luc was surprised to learn that people from as far away as Sudan and western Uganda had come to Christ as a result of the radio broadcasts.
Today, the healing continues in Nyankunde, and MAF’s return brings hope to the people there. Jean-Luc explains, “MAF’s presence gives us courage/heart, and every person here gives thanks to God to see that He has a good plan and purpose for our village—that which was destroyed before. Now people are forgetting the atrocities and trauma that happened to them and can continue to rebuild our community by God’s grace.”