Story by Chad Dimon, an MAF pilot/mechanic who served with his family in the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). Last June, Chad transported a group of CECA-20 Church (Evangelical Community in Central Africa) pastors and Samaritan’s Purse leaders to the northern tip of the DRC, near the Sudanese border. He was able to participate in some special events before returning the pastors to Bunia.
Hundreds of people welcomed us as they jumped, shouted, and waved banana and palm leaves. The atmosphere was electric, energized by the crowd’s smiling exuberance. They formed two columns, allowing me and the team of national church pastors and Samaritan’s Purse leadership to walk between them as we approached the new health center for its dedication. I’d never experienced anything like it. It felt like I was time warped back to Bible times.
Here’s the end of a long line of community members celebrating as Chad and the pastors/SP leaders approached the health center.
The occasion was the dedication of a new health center in a lush jungle village called Bakundangba, which is 30 minutes outside of Doruma by motorcycle. Doruma is a roughly hour and a half flight from Bunia and is close to the border of South Sudan. The previous health center was destroyed by a rebel militia group. This new health center represents hope for many isolated people. How many generations will now receive basic health and hygiene care? Babies will be born with more safety margin. People will receive care for malaria. Lives will be saved and quality of life will be improved for so many people living in deep poverty!
After the dedication we rode motorcycles back to the airstrip and departed for Dungu, a 45 minute flight. After a quick supper, I helped present the “JESUS” film at which over 200 were in attendance and roughly 40 came forward to accept Jesus or re-dedicate their lives to Him. The following morning, I joined the team, traveling by two Land Cruisers 28 miles to a village called Ngilima. This ride was on a rough, muddy road and gave me fresh appreciation for our aviation ministry. Our reception was similar to the previous day’s, just on a larger scale. On our arrival hundreds or even thousands of excited people waved, sang, and danced as they led us to the area where the dedication would take place.
It was estimated that 1,800 were in attendance for the Bible school’s dedication and graduation ceremony. Local church and community leadership were in attendance. I was asked to preach and was humbled and honored to do so. The message was about unity, encouraging others, and being quick to forgive offenses. Afterwards, the 31 new graduates came forward to receive their diplomas and thus commence their new ministries to evangelize, plant churches, and disciple people in their region.
When asked how MAF has supported the school’s efforts, Pastor Mukanirwa, ministry advisor for the school, said, “Without MAF there would be no way to send Bible teachers, Bibles, and other necessary supplies.”
This day was seven years in the making! MAF began flights to this area in 2013, transporting Congolese pastors who did training and seminars for the pastors who would be teaching classes, which include New Testament study, church history, fundamental doctrines, and discipleship. The goal is to have 30 or more students per three-month session—around 100 graduates per year. To date 379 evangelists have received their certificates—and strong doctrine—and returned to their communities to help strengthen their “home” churches.
It’s not every day that I get to see the fruit of our work, but this was one of those days. God is doing some very special things in this part of Congo and your prayers are needed to protect these graduates from the evil one and help them continue to thrive as they serve.