Yes, it is time again to post a newsletter. A lot has happened and I am sure you’d want to read it. You can do so here:
A comprehensive workshop discovering how church leaders can be involved in teaching about HIV and care for those living with HIV. It is a workshop that I have followed in South Africa in 2013 when it was organised by AIDSLink. And I have developed it into a workshop of 2-3 days for DR Congo. I have organised two workshops last year, in the CECA 20 church districts of Aba and Watsa. This year in November I will go to Bunia and teach the new CECA leadership. And…
Next month I will be for a two-day workshop in Koboko, Uganda. CECA has expanded into Uganda and the beginning of July some 12 pastors will meet for their executive council. Following these meetings I have been given the opportunity for this workshop. The teaching will be on Monday 8 and Tuesday 9 July! And of course it will be in English this time, so I have been translating what I translated from English to French back into English again.
July will be busy, as the school chaplains in the church district of Aru have asked for a Channels of Hope workshop also. That will probably follow the one in Koboko.
The training is finished. It were hectic, busy days but all went well. Monday morning 16 March, was for the last preparations but not all worked out, like to have the statistics about the treatment program in the health zone of Adi. The people of the health zone were still working on their reports.
Several church leaders came with their wives. This made that the language used was Bangala, although at the end I noticed that I started using French more because I was tired (this because bedtime for me was around midnight for three nights in a row).
There were many really positive points during the training. For me that was Badaru’s testimony. She is living with HIV and I knew her story as she told it before. But the fact that she stood before these church leaders and had the courage to tell them, making herself vulnerable, touched my heart. And my eyes, I must confess, didn’t stay dry. After her testimony I asked all to stand around her in a circle and one pastor to pray for her.
Participation was great. From the icebreaker on the participants were not afraid to speak, ask questions and give their opinion. There was a big discussion about condom use. Also during explanations the participants were all attention.
On their evaluation form many said that they wanted to have a follow-up, either in training or in visits from the facilitators. And that is exactly what we want to do. They also asked for a syllabus. Also something we like to do. However, we didn’t have enough time to prepare this as I translated a lot from English into French and then we needed on the spot or in our workshop preparation translate it again into Bangala. We will prepare a small syllabus though, we (Badaru, Likambo and I) decided this morning during our evaluation. Of course there were other things as well to improve and we will. One thing to keep though is the testimony of Badaru, as many have expressed it to be one of the important moments of the training.
As I said, several pastor’s wives came also, as did the wife of the chief of the Kakwa. She attended even more sessions than her husband, who was asked to attend several important meetings at the chiefdom.
Being on home assignment in the Netherlands I have thoroughly enjoyed my time here. I could give presentations about my ministry in DRC in several churches and also in some cell groups in my home church. But it being summer holidays as well, I couldn’t visit them all. Instead, I went sailing with friends for almost a week. A very nice time with sunny weather.
Talking about my work is a joy for me, as I see in everything that God is a faithful God and Father. He has surrounded me with his care and protection for already over 25 years in Congo. Even when in situations that were, to say the least, insecure.
Also now He is at work. For years I have been saying that I would love to see more missionaries to come to Congo, and even more specifically, to come to Adi, where I am based now. But when you talk about Congo, people think about rebels, insecurity, fighting, travel restrictions, and now also ebola. Congo knows all of them. It is also one of the reasons that aid organizations work in those regions in Congo that are insecure.
Doing so they forget the other regions of Congo.
Adi is in the northeast of Congo, pretty close to the borders with Uganda and South Sudan. True, sometimes we are bothered with insecurity but overall it is fine. Work is going on as usual, schools did start last week and patients come to the hospital. The treatment program with ARV is still continuing at the hospital. Likambo gets a lot of people coming to him when he works at our program office at the hospital asking questions about AIDS.
All five staff, together with some volunteers, continue to work with the little means they have. And that is almost nothing. They only have their enthusiasm to work and to serve and they are faithful.
We do not have funding for the program. However, to continue ministering to the people we need financial support. In a paper I have mentioned what we are doing and how, and also how much money we would need for the rest of this year and for 2015. You can read it here: AIDS Awareness Program CECA 20 COR. If you’d want to know more, don’t hesitate to contact me.
Another huge challenge is my personal support. To be able to return to Adi, I need more people who want to support me financially. The gifts that I receive now don’t allow me to go back and I have a return ticket for 20 September, in two weeks time. If you want to help me to return, you can contact AIM International in The Netherlands, www.aimeurope.nl.
My home is in Congo. My life is in Congo. My ministry is in Congo. And God is doing great works in Congo. In November this year the church I’m serving will organize her General Assembly in Adi and I am a participant in this assembly. Also, AIM will send two short term missionaries to Adi. One will come in November until end February and she will be working with me to produce a documentary about the AIDS Program, and maybe a movie that we can show when teaching about AIDS. The other will come in January for six months to work as a doctor at the hospital and with the AIDS Program.
Then I am thinking, God will not send people to Adi, having AIM arrange everything for their arrival, and then cancel it at the last minute because I don’t have my supprt. He will do miracles. He is a faithful God and He has a plan for me for good (Jer.29:11).