A visit to the Kinshasa congregation

Trip Start Sep 06, 2012
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Trip End Oct 09, 2012


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Where I stayed

Flag of Congo - The Dem. Repub.  , Kinshasa,
Monday, September 17, 2012

This morning Justin and Victor were at the hotel at 9:45 to accompany me to services. They engaged a taxi stationed at the hotel, which of course was more expensive than a street taxi. They felt it was too much more expensive so I listened to an animated argument cum discussion in Lingala. Every so often a convenient French word or expression entered the discussion, so I could more or less follow the flow of debate: no the taxi driver, wounded in his professional pride, wasn't charging more just because I was an expat. Yes he did charge that amount to Congolese also, even for such a short run, etc., etc. The driver kept talking more and more loudly, maybe that helped him come out on top.

I double checked along the way that we had official authorization to be meeting. That may sound like a strange thing to need for a small church service, but every kind of meeting here must be authorized by some authorities, and to contravene that would be put us all, especially foreigners in an exposed position under threat of incarceration, or to avoid that major bribery. I was reassured when told they careful to keep the authorization up to date.

We arrived at our usual hall, and started the service a little after 10:00. We sang hymns, and had a prayer after which Victor spoke for 15 minutes about faithfulness God, and renewing the inner man.

We gave an offering, and then I spoke on the 7 Trumpets of Revelation; riveting prophecies about the time just before the Second Coming. After the service we shared a snack, bread rolls, peanuts, and a soda each. Not too much, but the best they could organize. Several people who were sick asked me to pray for them, which I did. Other came and asked me to pray for them not due to illness but for help and strength in the struggles of life in the Congo. I wrote down each request and told them I would pray for them. We fellowshipped for an hour or so and then people began heading for home, and I went back to the hotel.

I had a light lunch and rested briefly before Justin and Victor came back. We walked out to a table in the garden by the pool and went over their plans for our annual church festival to begin in a couple of weeks. We also discussed the needs of the local members. The situation is a little less desperate than it was last year, salaries being paid on time, but they’re still not really livable, so it’s système D as the French call creatively fending for yourself, for everyone. School fees in particular are a heavy burden. We discuss how we might be able to help them in the near future; our church administration has been thinking through different ways to fill these kinds of needs.

We finish our discussion at 5:00 pm. I say goodbye to Victor and until tomorrow to Justin. He will be at the hotel at 06:00 with a taxi to take me to the airport. As soon as they leave two young men arrived to continue discussing baptism. They’re serious about the desire to be baptized, but the discussion also turns toward requests for money to help them pay school fees and laptop computers.

We read through a number of Bible passages including Romans 6 and discuss repentance, faith, and the nature of gospel. There is learning and unlearning, the latter more difficult than the former.  Finally by about 6:30 it is just too dark to read and we’ve reached a good stopping place. I give them some "homework" to do and tell them we’ll meet again on my next trip through early next year. I wish we could progress more quickly, but we’re doing the best we can.

After I see them off and give them a little money for bus fare, I have a plate of spaghetti, and a Tembo for dinner. Tembo is my favorite Congolese beer. It a dark, amber beer, with a strong evocative taste. It is brewed in Lubumbashi and under license here in Kinshasa. The Lubumbashi Tembo is better, more pronounced flavor, but even the Kinshasa variety is good.

When I get back to my room, the Internet service won’t let me log in. I suppose it is because I have used up my 120 megabytes for which I paid 5 dollars. I go to the front desk to buy another slip of paper with a passcode on it. I’m told that they have run out of slips, but perhaps they can get hold of the technician who can print more. I asked them to call me if any become available. A few minutes later the phone rings in my room: I didn’t run out of credit, the system is down and won’t be up until at least tomorrow.

I need to be up around 05:00 tomorrow, so I’ll head to bed early.
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Comments

maryhendren
maryhendren on

Thanks for the commentary and photos, Joel. Paying school fees is a new topic, and is this in place of government supported education? Fees for what? How difficult it must be that everything costs something. Even a taxi ride becomes a variable cost depending on the passenger. It appears from the photos you had a nice gathering, however, and no doubt the members were appreciative of the words of life as well as a sympathetic acknowledgement of their needs.

Mary

TESS WASHINGTON on

Hi Mr. Meeker, I hope to catch with you soon. Good to know your trip is still going and able to meet with our brethrens in DRC. We'll pray that God's people will be provided for their needs even in places like the Congo.

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