After a very early flight and a roller coaster van ride through the mountains our team arrived in Congo yesterday. We were greeted at the border by a beaming team of Congolese partners. It was so good to see our dear friends and hear how God has been sustaining and using them during the past tumultuous year.
Today we launched our 4 day conference for 35 pastors and counselors. This marks the first public release of the By His Wounds trauma healing workbook for Africa. Attendees received it in French and Swahili. They are VERY excited to get a new healing resource. Most of today was spent teaching and doing application exercises on lament, focusing on the book of Lamentations. These amazing brothers and sisters have so much to lament over. The question and answer time was rich and real. Numerous attendees stated how hard it is to keep taking your lament prayers to God when the suffering never ends—another massacre, new Ebola deaths, and on and on.
Amidst the intense suffering here God is intensely moving. We heard incredible stories today of how By His Wounds is being used to help thousands heal. And we heard perhaps the most astounding redemption story I’ve heard in Africa. The woman in this picture is named Leah. She attended our last Congo trauma conference in Butembo. Several of the pastors today came to us saying “that woman is a hero. She is the most courageous person we’ve ever seen. She doesn’t even seem human.” A few years ago Leah was kidnapped by rebels, assaulted, and put into a pit. She was eventually released, highly traumatized, after a ransom was paid.
Her pastor, the man on the far left in the picture, had been to an Mending the Soul training previously and knew how to minister effectively to abuse survivors. As she began to heal she felt called to reach out to the very rebels who had viciously abused her. She went deep into the jungle to find them. When they saw her they were shocked and asked why she would come knowing they might kill her this time. She explained that she had come to tell them about the healing love of Jesus. For three days she taught them and ministered to them. Before she left, the rebel leader came and knelt before her, expressing his remorse over the evil he had perpetrated on her and others. He and other rebels expressed their desire to find inner healing. These rebels even put hearts on the doors of several huts—the heart visuals Mending the Soul uses in Africa created by Nora Poling.
Apparently Leah is known through the entire region for her bold love for Christ. We are again humbled at these Africans’ faith and amazed anew at God’s power to redeem. We serve a mighty God!
Thanks for your prayers. There have been several difficult incidents, including lengthy breakdowns in rebel territory of both vehicles bringing attenders living in Beni and Butembo to the conference. Satan doesn’t want this equipping conference to take place. By God’s grace and your prayers we are trusting God for big victories this week.
Steve and Celestia
(I told Celestia that for Mother’s Day I would write this update).
“By awesome deeds you answer us with righteousness, O God of our salvation, the hope of all the ends of the earth.”