People blessed in Goma

December 22 2012 / ShareHim in Congo (DRC), Jul. 20 - Aug. 4 '12 #580
by Thomas P. Davis

Personal Testimony of Thomas P. Davis.

I journeyed to Goma DRC, Africa this past July 2012.

Mungu Awabariki, Swahili for May God Bless you.
This was a new adventure for me since my wife did not come along this year. The added note that stated travel at your own risk was too much for her. That was however what attracted my attention. It is easy to do the easy things for the Lord, but this required a little more faith. After all, the Lord says He is not willing that any should perish and these people needed to hear the gospel too.

My computer broke just before leaving but since my wife was not going, she graciously loaned me hers. I had a few moments of stress trying to leave the airport due to problems with the VISA I was given, but that was eventually taken care of and I was on my way. This is my third trip and I am starting to learn that the devil doesn’t make it easy.

When arriving at the border of Goma and Rwanda, we were met with many church members and the pathfinders. They were all very excited to see us. Driving to where we would be staying, we past a statue of a Chukudu (looks like a big wooden scooter). My interpreter told me that was a symbol of work. In some areas a man cannot get married unless he owns one. This insures the bride’s family that she has a husband that will work and support her. They cost between $100-200. The owner can make between $5-10 a day hauling items. If they make a minimum of $3 a day, that is enough for them to live on.

Our accommodations were at the churches headquarters, a walled facility with guards to insure our safety. Most of the water to bathe with and flush the toilets came from barrels that were filled each day by containers bicycled there from the lake. It rained all night Tuesday and that filled the big water reservoirs attached to the rain gutters on the roof. This provided running water for several days, for showers and flushing. Wells cannot be drilled due to proximity to volcano. There is very little that lives in Lake Kivu due to volcanic gasses. They hired a French cook to prepare our meals. This was my third mission trip with ShareHim and it was the best one when it came to housing and food.

When being driven to my first meeting, I saw a volcano 12Km away. I learned that this city of one million people, home to the greatest concentration of human suffering since War Two II. Since 1999, it is currently the world’s largest peace keeping mission with 3000 UN soldiers. It is a city where 5.4 million people died between the years 1998 to 2008, from lack of medicine and malnutrition. It is a city known to most of the world as the capital of rape, torture and mutilation. It was also a city sitting over an underground fissure that moved after the last eruption to what is described as the most volcano threatened city in the world. It is described as an African Pompeii and the city should move. Instead it has doubled in size, rebuilt mostly with Lava. We were told where we slept that if we went up to the second floor after dark, that sometimes you could see it spitting fire. I tried but had no success. It erupted in 1896, 1977 and 2002. 2,000 people were killed in the 1977 eruption. In 2002 the lava flowed at 60 MPH down to Lake Kivu and covered one fifth of the city. The roads are still not in to good of shape. My interpreter and driver were going to take me there the following week and looked at me a little strange when I said; maybe it could shake a little while there. However the opportunity never came due to the rebels meeting there. Eight miles from this volcano is another one that erupted in January of this year and the ash from it made the runoff from rain undrinkable for the people.

This trip was also different because I began preaching at 4:30 PM and since the sun was still up, the meetings were held in the church to enable the participants to see the screen. The early start was necessary because the people needed to return home before dark due to the curfew because of the rebels. Power was supplied by a generator and some afternoons the attendance was over 800.

A father and mother from one of the churches had just completed a new home for their family, behind their original home and had just moved in. Their seven children ages 8-25 were still staying in their original home. One night someone barricaded the door of the home, where the children were staying and set fire to it in several places. They were all burned alive.

While we were in Goma, our group visited a refugee camp, where goats were provided by churches in California for a source of food and income. We also visited a group of war widows; there are over 450,000 of them in Goma. They provided us a vey delicious meal as well. On another day we visited Green Lake, where women would make a long trip down a steep trail to obtain water. On one occasion we met with the Governor. My interpreter asked how much a car costs in America. I told him, a good used one could be obtained for $10,000. He was shocked. He told me that is his salary for 14 months at ADRA. The last day we took a tour by Lake Kivu where the wealthy live.

I was amazed at the size of the Sabbath School class compared to ours back home. Several nights I prayed individually with the people. They requested prayers for jobs, education to obtain jobs, healing for themselves or others, for family members to accept Christ as their Savior, and several for their husbands to return after leaving them.

One of the young men we met there spends part of his time finding occupations for the villagers. He provides loans of $20. This is all that is needed to start up a business. As they make sales, they keep 25 cents and reinvest the remainder into the market to grow the business. After they own the market, they start to repay the interest free loan. Others will buy 100 kg of grain for $15 from a village and sell it for as much as $50 in the city.

The Lord truly blessed the six churches holding meetings. Some of the churches were broadcasted on AWR as well. All total, there were 346 baptisms from the churches and 273 from the radio. From previous trips the groups would purchase bibles for the newly baptized. Thanks to donations, I was able to purchase these for those at my site. My interpreter told me the people would like to purchase one, but when it comes to the choice of a bible or feeding the family, the food wins out. If you include the baptisms from the other two groups that went to Kisangani and Bukavu, there was over 1,000 plus 500 more being worked with.

As we left at the end of the trip to return to the airport we all noticed how clean Rwanda was. We all had our belongings inspected at the border crossing for plastic bags. The government will not allow any plastic bags in their country. It made for some interesting moments when some in our group gave the inspectors a hard time. Some of us thought we would never get out of Goma. Rwanda is known for a mass genocide of 800,000 people over 100 days in 1994. Upon returning, I learned why Rwanda was so clean. I received a letter from AWR telling how the government set aside every Saturday to clean their environment. That posed a problem for the Adventists, who wanted to comply with the government, but wanted to change the day to Sunday instead of the Sabbath. The government was concerned how they would determine those who were legitimately not working on the Sabbath. After researching their options they found their answer. The Adventists studied a Sabbath school lesson each week. If you were found not cleaning the environment on Saturday, you would be excused if your had the lesson on you and it was filled out.
P.S. An article in our local newspaper from Thanksgiving morning stated that the city of Goma was taken over by the rebels.
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