Reaching the Tribe Next Door

Your support helps Congolese Christians cross impossible distances to answer God’s call

 

“We are missionaries!” replied the three passengers in response to MAF pilot Jon Cadd’s inquiry as to whether they were pastors.

Their declaration reflects a new mindset in eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). In the past, if you’d asked someone here who the missionaries are, they would have had a much different answer.

“They would have told you ‘it’s the white people who come to share their faith,’ ” explained Cadd.

Churches here have been too busy just trying to survive and recover from the brutal effects of war to think about reaching out beyond their local body of believers.

But that’s all changing.

MAF flew this team of Congolese missionaries to Doruma in the northeastern corner of the DRC to survey the area. Situated near the DRC’s borders with South Sudan and Central African Republic, it’s a region that has seen an influx in refugees in recent years. On some of their initial trips, the missionaries have been able to lead seminars for small, struggling churches on how to witness to a nomadic tribe of cattle herders known to be in this area.

“There are unreached and unengaged places in Congo, and now there are people willing to go,” said Cadd. “But they don’t have a way to do that, other than to get on public transportation, or a motorcycle, which takes days on terrible, unsafe roads.”

Jon Cadd assists a young man who was shot by bandits.

On a recent flight, Cadd transported a man who had been shot in an ambush along the road in that area. A week later, after he had flown one of the missionary teams up north, another man was killed while driving on the same road.

“This is not just about ease of movement,” said Cadd. “It can be life and death.”

MAF plans to take a team of Congolese missionaries into the area for two to three months at a time. These missionaries have very little and will leave behind families, but they’re still willing to sacrifice.

“In 30-plus years of serving in Africa as a missionary, I have seen that there is a reason that people are unreached. It is because it is too hard! People don’t like to go to a place where everything is different and their life is in danger,” said Cadd. “You have to be proud of these Congolese missionaries and the risks they are willing to take for the sake of the Gospel.”

Stronger Together

Christians throughout the DRC share the missionaries’ desire for peace and healing to come to their nation––something that’s only possible through Christ.

Further south, MAF is helping another ministry bring spiritual and emotional healing to a hard-to-reach part of the country. The Shabunda territory in South Kivu province is home to several different ethnic groups, many still divided and still suffering from the trauma of war and ongoing conflicts.

An OEIL team prepares for a flight with MAF pilot Lary Strietzel.

A group known as Organisation Evangélisation, Intercession and Liberation (OEIL), in English “Organization for Evangelism, Prayer and Freedom,” wants to focus its efforts in this place, to break the cycle of violence and bring spiritual transformation. Through their reconciliation workshops, the group has seen thousands put their faith in Christ. OEIL teams depend on MAF to reach many areas of the DRC, including Shabunda—a flight just short of three hours versus over a week of dangerous ground travel.

Ron Wismer, MAF’s field advisor for ministry initiatives in Africa, visited eastern DRC this past November to meet with church leaders, the new missionaries, and OEIL. He reemphasized MAF’s commitment to their ministries and introduced a simple 20-question survey to help them measure their progress––not only the decisions made for Christ but what biblical resources are available, if churches have been planted and are reproducing, if new leaders are being trained, and if communities are being transformed with Kingdom values.

Ron Wismer presented the MAF survey to some 400 OEIL delegates.

Daniel Kasereka, the founder of OEIL, told Wismer that just a few months prior to his visit, God had been telling Kasereka he needed to do some forward-thinking research to evaluate what’s happening on the ground.

“When I showed up with this survey, that really impressed upon Daniel that God wanted him to do it,” said Wismer.

MAF is excited to partner with these groups that are passionate about taking the Gospel to their neighbors.

“These initiatives are being led by the national church missionaries and the OEIL members,” said Wismer. “We want to come alongside them, pray for them, support them, and ensure that they can get to where they need to go.

“The airplane is one part of the strategy. If they’re successful, then we’re successful.”


Read the full edition of FlightWatch 2017, Vol. 2:

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