Congo Reflections

Author: Gail Schuknecht - Africa 2017 Team Member

 

It was apparent from the beginning that each of us on the Congo MTS team felt that God had a significant purpose in our being there.  The effort, time and money invested, along with the uncertainty of what was to come allowed a commonly felt trust in that purpose.

   

Sharing our questions & fears about travel, where to go, what to do, food, danger concerns, sleep & health issues along with caring responses and suggestions gave me a consistent sense that I wasn’t in this situation alone. Our shared time together allowed us to hear personal stories of how God had woven our past journeys into our sense of significant purpose & faith in Him. This not only applied to this Congo experience, but through our lives in general.  This process gave way to knowing others and being known, offering a sense of being securely loved. The weeks together consistently encouraged our strong Hope in our Lord Jesus. The process was the Gospel lived out to me.

This process gave way to knowing others and being known, offering a sense of being securely loved.

Just as this team process developed into love and care to me in a personal way, the process of experiencing incarnational ministry continued to unfold in dynamic ways. Though my nearly 30 years of teaching the concept that “people/students generally don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care” seemed to be reinforced consistently. What was wonderful about our time in the Congo was the ways MTS trauma training curriculum is infused with an abundant sense of caring.  The teachings are creatively changed as needed to develop & maintain relational connections of knowing and being known by teachers and participants.  Vulnerability and transparency were apparent and implemented fluidly with love. One of the aspects of MTS is sharing the redemption process of our life trials.  The process not just teaches, but demonstrates the process of safety, integration & re-connection with past trauma, connection with others and the redemptive purpose of our trials through truth in Him.  This is developed through the love of safe/caring others.

The experience was a continuation of my own healing as I heard concepts shared with the Congolese participants.

I would check into my own soul to see how I had honestly and to what depth I had responded to those concepts.  I was in a continuing process, knowing the redemptive power of Jesus in my own life.  As I heard stories from the participants of understanding and redemption, I could pray with understanding as they continued developing their intimate journey with God.

The highlight for me was the privilege of being with 60 Congolese children as they experienced The Vulnerable Child curriculum from MTS.  I saw them respond with caregivers as they heard of their creation and design in the image of God, that nothing that can diminish. God’s safety and comfort is apparent, available always and manifest through safe people in our lives.  Children heard how we are created with feelings we protect in our hearts.  Caregivers shared and encouraged the value of learning and choosing to share feelings within safe relations. These relationships help us to identify fear, anger, guilt and shame. We learned to atone when we have hurt others and being able to place shaming situations as they belong to others. Children became aware of our physical being: good, bad and secret touch.

In a culture where a child has little ability to speak up, we discussed how important it is to be able to say no, go and tell a safe person when touch is inappropriate.

We explored the importance of understanding the impact of our words. All this was done in community with caregivers that will be able to develop and maintain relationships to truly know these children.  This again is what I see as the Gospel of Our Lord Jesus. I Cor. 13:13 shares that Faith, Hope and love will continue.  Our Lord’s secure Love, significant purpose in Faith and strong Hope were abundantly apparent in the DRC.  We were allowed to be His eyes, ears and voice to others while exploring the concepts of MTS trauma ministry with the wonderful people in the DRC. What an incredible privilege to experience.

  

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