This is an add-on to the August FlightWatch story. If you did not receive a copy in the mail, please read it here first. We wanted to give you more of the story and share these lovely pictures. All photos are by Agung Fauzi of Seize The Day Photography, unless otherwise noted.
At 6 feet 3 inches, Wren towers over the Pygmies who reach at most 4 foot 9. The Pygmies have named him “Eféosa Mbuti MangBo.” Eféosa—the man who loves us—and Mbuti MangBo, the big Pygmy.
A familiar sight in the Pygmy villages: Wren entertaining the kids.
The Pygmies get a kick out of seeing themselves in photos for the very first time.
Wren spends evenings around the campfire with his Pygmy family.
Shalom’s Benjamin Liringa and Wren in a traditional Pygmy hut covered in leaves—their temporary home while working on-site.
Shalom Drillers at work on a new well.
Shalom Drillers install a well applying Water4’s technology and training.
Shalom’s Benjamin Liringa praising God for a new well.
Trying out the new well.
Wren and Liringa hanging out with their Pygmy friends.
A youngster enjoys some playtime with Liringa.
A precious little one, waiting his turn for fresh, clean water.
When heavy rains washed away the bridge leading to the Pygmy village, MAF picked up Wren and his team, and the well-drilling materials, and flew them over the river and into the jungle. Photo by Derek Watson, Lampstand Media.
More of the Story
“Can you help us have a voice? We have none.” Over and over again, mixed martial arts fighter Justin Wren has been asked this question by Pygmy chiefs in regards to the suffering and oppression of their people. And Wren has felt the Lord lead him to do just that—give them a voice and fight for their freedom.
After a life-changing encounter with Jesus, Wren discovered the Mbutu Pygmies of eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) while on a short-term mission trip. His heart was captured by their plight, and he began to devise a plan to set them free from slavery while sharing the love of Christ with them. His plan became “Fight for the Forgotten,” which is now the name of his non-profit that has the vision of “Overcoming oppression with overwhelming opportunity.”
He is not alone in this “fight.” The Lord brought Wren into contact with Way Alege, dean of development studies at Shalom University of Bunia. Alege and his students were already doing research-action projects in several Pygmy villages. Deforestation made it difficult for the hunter-gatherer Pygmies to survive. As a result, they had become enslaved to land-owners who demanded excruciating work in return for a pittance, in terms of “wages.” Shalom teams were introducing sustainable farming methods to the tribes.
Once Wren joined forces with Shalom, God supplied the missing piece: well-drilling technology and training by Water4. Teams of “Shalom Drillers” were created (comprised of Shalom students) and have to date installed 27 wells!
Wren flew with MAF about 20 times during his one-year stay in the DRC—between work teams, visitors, his medevac flight and other needs. “If we didn’t have MAF, a lot of it wouldn’t have been possible,” said Wren.
He described the alternative of getting from Uganda to Bunia in the DRC, driving seven hours on Ugandan roads and then six hours on “brutal Congo roads.”
“That six-hour drive has been 24 hours for me one time because the mud was so bad and so many trucks were stopped,” explained Wren. “It’s six hours if you have perfect road conditions. The fastest you can make it is 13 hours, but you have to spend the night at the border every time, because you have to wait ‘til the border wakes up. We save so much time using MAF.”
Wren’s mission? Defend the weak. Love the unloved. Empower the voiceless. He tells his teammates, “People in general, not just the Pygmies, they’ll definitely doubt what you say but they’ll believe what you do. So if we love them first, then they’ll be receptive to Christ’s love. We’ve got to be Jesus to them before they listen to who Jesus is.”