pray for Sudan

This week elections are taking place in a civil war ransacked Sudan. Southern Sudan is seeking to succeed from northern Sudan. Here is what CNN has to say about what is going on right now:

Several million people will decide in the next week or so whether to give birth to the world’s newest nation.

They will cast ballots on whether to declare independence at polling stations sprinkled across the vast, flat plains of Southern Sudan, an East African landscape long riven by chaos.

War and famine have ravaged generations in the south for as long as anyone can remember. Fighting forced more people from their homes than in any other nation on earth. Hope remained elusive.

Yet the vote has given many southerners the rare sense of exhilaration that is borne of new beginnings.

From January 9 to January 15, the black Christians and animists in the autonomous region of Southern Sudan will vote on whether to declare independence from a northern government dominated by Arab Muslims. The two sides fought a war that killed 2 million people from 1983 to 2005, when a peace treaty set the stage for the upcoming vote.

Nearly 4 million have registered to cast ballots. Few doubt the outcome. . .[Read the rest.]

Here are 6 ways to pray for Sudan. African Inland Mission also shares more ways you can pray

Check out this great song for Sudan by Swoope “Actions Speak Louder”

Is Africa barbaric, forgotten or ignored?

Is Africa a continent out of control? Why are trucks loads of money, forces of relief aid, and sympathetic media attention not helping rather haunting the drifting dark land? In the past decade many regions of Africa have been blitzed by war and conflict, from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) to the Sierra Leone crisis and the war in Ethiopia and the various other civil wars.

I’ve come across a book entitle Stealth Conflicts; How the World’s Worst Violence Is Ignored which, provides a useful map representing conflict death tolls between 1990 and 2007 where the square area of continents/regions corresponds to their proportion of conflict death tolls:

88% of all conflict death tolls in this period were in Africa, followed by Asia (6%), Middle East (4%), Europe (1%) and the Americas (1%)Source: Virgil Hawkins, New World Maps, Stealth Conflicts, December 30, 2008

In addition to the conflict deaths, there have been over 9 million refugees and displaced people. If this scale of destruction and fighting was in Europe, then people would be calling it World War III with the entire world rushing to report, provide aid, mediate and otherwise try to diffuse the situation. However, there is silence and no sympathy on a grand scale to extend grace to these WARnout African people.

I received this story from some friends serving in the Democratic Republic of the Congo this week, “Word had trickled out that the entire village was burned, although the inhabitants were rousted by gunfire and allowed to flee their homes.  The attack was in retaliation for ‘allowing’ government and MONUC (UN) troops to headquarter in their hamlet in a recent operation to seek out and forcefully repatriate the Hutus. Despite official claims, no success.  In classic guerilla fashion, the Hutu warlords who control columbium and tantalum ore mining – cell phones and jet engine exhausts – (google “coltan” if you are interested) and their militias had simply retreated into the heavy jungle.  Someone didn’t learn the lessons taught by the Viet Nam conflict?!”

Virgil Hawkins states, “The death toll from conflict in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) is literally one thousand times greater than that in Israel-Palestine, yet it is the latter that is the object of far greater media coverage … [and where] the intricacies and nuances of the conflict, political situation and peace process are almost obsessively analyzed and presented.… [African] conflicts are frequently brushed off and dismissed as being chaotic, or worthy of some vague pity or humanitarian concern, but rarely of any in-depth political analysis. But even [when there is coverage of conflicts in] Africa, the death toll has little to do with the levels of coverage. Darfur made a rare appearance on the radar of Western concern in 2004 … at a time when the known death toll from conflict there was still 80 times smaller than that in the DRC. Similarly, political violence in early 2007 in Zimbabwe resulting in one death and a number of arrests and beatings of political leaders became the object of relatively high levels of attention and indignation in the Western media. At almost exactly the same time, political protest in Guinea was put down by government forces that fired indiscriminately into crowds of protesters resulting in a total of 130 deaths and numerous arrests. Also at the same time, street battles between government and opposition forces in the capital of the DRC resulted in between 400 and 600 deaths, and resulted in the exile of the opposition leader. Yet this violence in Guinea and the DRC was virtually ignored by the Western media.”

Q: Is Africa barbaric, forgotten or ignored?

A: All the above. It is time for the church to step up and step in.

pray for Leonard

pray for Leonard
and his family

While in the Congo I met a pastor, Leonard. He has been in Bukavu for 6 months waiting for work and a means to get back to his wife and children who where many kilometers away. He made a special visit to see Sarah and me. In the conversation, which Sarah translated, he asked if we could take his three sons. With big eyes his sons were sitting quiet, listening. Sarah, translated the message to me with the addition of, “Be careful how you nod.”

The Congo is a different kind of place. You see, Leonard thought he can not provide for his children and in desperation they will be better off with these Americans he barely knows. How would you respond? Our response was simple. No. We explained to him that it would be impossible to take his children. What Leonard’s children need to see their father’s struggle of faith and these difficult times will be fruitful to his family. I promise Leonard my prayers and ask that you would pray too.

Pray that his children would see their fathers faithfulness.
Pray for work and the provisions of God.
Pray that he would trust God to provide all of his needs.
Pray that God would be made famous through his example.

a spoiled baby

Victoria Crying

I am stunned by the number of NGO’s (Non-Government Organizations) based in the Congo. Many people around the world have compassion on this country. Yet I am concerned. Could all this compassion be causing long-term harm? Could they be creating a spoiled baby who cries for milk, nurture, clothing, and more, but cannot help itself? This is a country that relies so much about outside help. What the Congo really needs is to know how to grow up and live on their own. Or in other words stop acting like selfish babies.

I grew up having all that I wanted and more. I know the struggle of having to grow up and provide for myself. I suppose that is why I like the movie “Empire of the Sun” so much. It is the story about a wealthy British boy growing up in Japan during WWII. He has everything and more. It is obvious he is spoiled. The war strikes and he is separated from his family. He now has nothing. He is force to live on the streets, in containment camps, and is forced to grow up. He becomes a man. In the end he is reunited with his parents and has an appreciation for them unlike he had before.

Spoiled is all a matter of cultural definition. What it comes down to: being spoiled is selfish living. One who is spoiled says, “You do the work and I get the reward.” It is much the same in the USA as it is in the Congo. You can have a lot and be spoiled, and you can have little and be spoiled.

lost in translation


August 16 lost in translation. Sarah and I traveled to two churches this morning. At the first church we just observed and sang. Can I say it again? The singing here is amazing. At the second church I preached. The gentleman that translated for me was a rookie. I suppose we had something in common!? Overall the sermon was communicated without too many verbiage distractions. Interesting I was speaking on commitment. There is no word in the Swahili that can be translated “commitment.” The closest is “standing firm.”

Most people in the Congo can speak 4-5 languages: Swahili, French, tribal languages, and maybe English. I am such a monolingual American. I took 4 years of French in high school. I wish I could remember some of that!? Sarah speaks great Swahili, which is great. Some of Swahili the phrases I have picked up (it is all phonetic so that helps):

Jambo = hello

Habari = how are you?

Bwana Asifiwe = praise the Lord (what else do you need to know?)

Ndyo = yes

Hapana = no

Mungu = God

Muzungu = white guy (I hear this a lot walking in the streets)

kivukutu = hot

asanti = thank you

tokainje = get out of here (mostly for fun during games with the youth)

FYI-We just heard that Kenya Airlines was on strike this week, but praise the Lord they are back to work! We will be boarding a small bus at the Congo/Rwanda boarder Tuesday morning to head to the

August 17 free day. Sarah and I are now finished with all our projects. We headed out for a few meetings with pastors and friends. The rest of the day we saw sights and went to the market. I relaxed. Tomorrow we head to the boarder to catch a bus for a 5 hour ride through the winding Rwandan hillside. Wednesday morning we fly out of Rwanda to Kenya to Amsterdam to NYC to Buffalo where Sarah’s family will pick us up for her brother’s wedding over the weekend. Bon Voyage Congo!!

going to church

August 9 Going to Church. This morning we woke up to the sounds of Bukavu: roosters crowing, car horns honking, men whistling, children playing, UN soldiers marching, and motor scooters racing. I took a bath with a bucket of cold water. It was surprisingly refreshing after such long travels. We are staying with Renee, a single missionary who ministers with the deaf and runs a coffee shop next door that employes locals. We had dinner there last night and it was fabulous.

We attended Berean Church (CEEBCO) today. The singing was incredible and unforgettable. Sarah and I presented our ministry (leadership seminar and camp for youth) before the church. They sang a song to welcome us. After the service the elders of the church prayed over us and we had an opportunity to pray over them.

We had lunch with the Lindquist’s our sponsoring family. They had hamburgers covered with Goma cheese and homemade icecream. In the afternoon we headed to a missionary fellowship with people from Food for the Hungry International, Crossworld Press, braodcasting and aggriculture (headed by a Purdue grad), and others. It was an encouraging time of worship, fellowship and devotion from Daniel 7.

leavin on a jet plane

The time has arrived. Tomorrow Sarah and I leave for the Congo. We start out from Chicago and find our way to Africa sometime on Saturday afternoon. It will be a long trek, but a I will be with my wife! We have spent the better part of the last two weeks apart because of ministry camps in Indiana connected to our church.

Here are a few ways you can pray for us the next 3-days:

  • Thursday: rest for the journey
  • Friday: bags protected from theft
  • Saturday: 6-hour bus trip from Rwanda to Congo to be safe.

day dreamer

Lately, I have been dreaming about what I would like to do, someday. No, I am not having a midlife crisis. I am not even 30 years old yet! What would life be like without some type of vision? If God gives me many more years on this earth there are some things that I believe He has impressed upon my heart to do. This is sort of my “bucket list”:

1) Bike across Africa

I would start the trek from Cairo to Cape Town. I would only take enough money for the flight, bikes, some fuel, and Swedish Fish. I have always been fascinated and captivated by the people and places of Africa. What better way to experience this beautiful continent than to be on a wide-open wind-in-hair bike?

2) Open African art gallery

From a young age I have been interested in the arts. Whether doodling in my school notebooks or painting portraits hung in a gallery I have had a knack for seeing things artistically. It must be in my genes. My father is a painter and walking stick carver.

I would love to open a gallery in an African city and help market local artists. African are some of the most creative and crafty people. Their art is gorgeous. How neat would it be to support missions, schools, and hospitals from the sale of African art?

Could both 1 and 2 fit together? Yes, I can imagine riding a bike through small villages and being exposed to various art.

3) Adopt

This world is full of children looking for a home and having a parent to love.

4) Sing a solo in church

I have ventured singing in the choir and an occasional quartet. The only place I have courage to sing a solo is in my car or shower. Most say would say that I do not have a horrible screech-of-a-voice, but it frightens me to even ponder the thought of a potential front-and-center performance.

5) Write a book

Someone once said to me, “If you are embarrassed of sharing your thoughts and inspirations with a small group don’t dare speak at all. Be courageous, risk writing a book so that the masses know and learn from your inspirations.” What would my first book be called? Not sure. Possibly, “Waiting on God,” “Saved Africa through Art,” or “African Biking Diaries.”

6) Harley Davidson road trip

There is nothing quite like the sound or rumbling chrome or the smell of leather chaps. I would love to own a hog, but I have come to realize that I will never acquire enough more for that dream. However, I could rent a Harley and travel our country. Anybody interested in a road trip?

7) Climb a bigger mountain.

The first mountain I climbed was Rib Mountain [Wausau, WI]. Not quite a mountain, but to a young whipper-snapper it was a behemoth. I did climb the summit of Copper Mountain in Colorado and skied off into the powdery snowcap. The last mountain I climbed was Table Mountain in South Africa, one of the 7 natural wonders of our world. It was beautiful climbing up through the clouds and over looking both the Indian and Atlantic Oceans. It is now time for something bigger. I am not thinking, “Everest,” but a challenge.

the smoke of a thousand villages

 

“I have seen, at different times, the smoke of a thousand villages – villages whose people are without Christ, without God, and without hope in this world.” (Robert Moffat who inspired David Livingstone).

In 1816, Robert Moffat was sent out to South Africa and his fiance Mary Smith followed him 3 years later. After spending a year in Namaqualand, with the chief Afrikaner, whom he converted, Moffat returned to Cape Town in 1819 to marry Mary Smith. She proved to be a remarkable woman and most helpful wife.

In 1820 Moffat and his wife, left the Cape. They had a daughter, Mary Moffat (who was later to marry David Livingstone).

The saying above has inspired many missionaries to take the gospel to unreached people over the years. Today it has become increasingly easy communications and transportation, but  Coca-cola seems to have done a better job at making itself known worldwide than the gospel. I HAVE SEEN, MANY TIMES, THE HOUSE LIGHTS OF MANY HOMES AND CITIES–WITHOUT A MISSIONARY OR VOICE TO SHOW THEM THE WAY TO CHRIST. 

“We have all eternity to celebrate our victories, but only one short hour before sunset in which to win them.” – Robert Moffat

Livingstone, I presume

africa-heart.jpg 

I love Africa. You know you love something when you think about it a lot and want to be there. There is something contagious about the land, the people and the culture. It takes you back to a simpler time when family matters and where wealth is unimportant.

I presume Dr. David Livingstone had this same heart for this beautiful continent.

At the end of 1840, at the age of 27, supported by the London Missionary Society, Livingstone set sail for Africa. On arrival in Cape Town on March 14th 1841, Livingstone made his way by ox-wagon to Dr Moffat’s mission station at Kuruman. While Moffat confined his work to the region around Kuruman, Livingstone felt called to venture north into the unexplored terrain of Central Africa. Isolating himself for several months in a native village many miles from Kuruman, Livingstone sought to speed up his comprehension of the language and customs of the Africans.

He became a doctor and a missionary, and devoted a great amount of his life to exploring Africa and spreading the gospel.  Livingstone was one of the first Europeans to explore the central and southern parts of Africa. He determined that the best way to tell the Africans about Jesus Christ was to move around and see as many people as he could.

He married Dr Moffat’s daughter, Mary in 1845 and she (and later their children) came along with Livingstone on his early explorations. In 1849, he led a group of Europeans across the Kalahari Desert and discovered Lake Ngami. Two years later, he again traveled through the Kalahari with his family. In 1856, he traveled on the Zambezi River, and became the first European to see God’s natural wonder—Victoria Falls. He also became the first European to cross the entire width of southern Africa.

On May 1st 1873, Livingstone was found on his knees by his bedside, having died in prayer. Following with the African beliefs, Livingstone’s heart was buried under a Mvula tree near to the spot where he died; but his body had to be returned to Britain. His body was buried in Westminster Abbey in London on 18th April 1874 which was declared a day of national mourning.