Changing Lives in Congo, One Clean Foot at a Time

anna hobbesNathan “Hobbes” and Anna Wagner are the school leaders for the Bible School of the Nations (BSN). This summer, they were outreach leaders for the BSN outreach to the Democratic Republic of Congo, where they partnered with the BELT (Biblical Education and Leadership Training). Part of this program and their outreach included teaching biblical seminars to local pastors and community leaders. Anna and Hobbes describe some of their experiences and the impact the BSN outreach had on the people of Congo. 

After our plane ride to Uganda, a night spent sleeping on airport chairs, an 8-seater plane ride to the Congo and a 12-hour jeep ride down a very bumpy road, we finally arrived in Poko, a town in a far-off corner of the jungle in the Congo. Over 300 people surrounded the car to welcome us with singing and dancing. It was all a little overwhelming, but we also felt very honored. We’ve never seen a welcome like that before! The day after our arrival, we started the BELT seminar, which we taught together with three of the BSN students on our team.

It was a hot afternoon, and we were over 100 people in the church. The theme we were teaching about was forgiveness and reconciliation. After we finished the teaching, people began washing the feet of those they had forgiven or had asked forgiveness from. At first, we thought that people were getting out their handkerchiefs because it was so warm outside, but then we realized that many of them were crying as relationships were being healed: between tribes, generations and people of different positions. One lady was crying as she washed the feet of her husband who now lived with another woman. When she could have so easily chosen bitterness, she chose forgiveness. Seeing people changed in these ways makes it easy for us to travel to remote places and do what we do.

foot washing congo

Relationships were healed as many of the participants washed each others feet, asking for forgiveness and praying for one another. 

During our outreach, we also partnered with Kairos, an organization which is working to make an oral Bible available for local languages all over the world.  According to statistics, almost half the population of the Congo doesn’t know how to read. With over 200 known languages in the nation, many people don’t even have the Bible in their own language yet. That’s why it was so exciting for us to partner with Kairos to make this oral Bible, in the local language of Zande, during our time in Poko. Six Zande speakers recorded 70 stories and we edited them with the help of a local school teacher –all with the sounds of goats and chickens in the background.  The finished product was put onto solar powered audio players and distributed, to the joy of the Zande speakers.

We are so thankful for the passion that Anna, Hobbes, and the BSN have for bringing God’s Word to the nations. Please pray for the continued work that BSN and BELT teams are doing- that more people would be equipped, trained and transformed with the Word of God through these programs. You can read more about BSN here and BELT here.

Village Life in Thailand: #2

Here is another post written by Helene, from her outreach experience in Thailand earlier this year. 

HeleneBlogThailand(Photo: Eiliv Søyland)

After thirteen days in the village Wa Shi Kaaw, we have now returned to the base in Way Te Loo. Here we have all of our belongings, wi-fi connection and the possibility to buy chocolate. All of this is awesome and we’ve been missing it for a while now, but after getting use to a different, simpler lifestyle in the village, we’ve also gotten to love this way of life. This lifestyle includes bucket showers, cooking all kinds of food on the fire, burning the trash, going to bed at 8 PM and listening to the roosters all night long. A simple lifestyle, with a lot of challenges along the way, but it really makes you appreciate the important things in life. Even though the spiders are HUGE, there are pigs outside the toilet, three roosters in the kitchen, cats in the beds, and chickens all over the place, and even if the smell of fried rat is filling the house, it is the love these people give that will remain as the strongest memory in this village. Still, we are making memories that will bring laughter in the years to come. It’s hard to forget not being able to hear Rachel and Finn sing on Glee, because of the roosters singing louder in the kitchen. Or that one by one on the team had to experience an unspoken amount of food coming out again one end or the other, and for some, both.

But one thing I’ve understood during this time, is that it does not depend on where you are, or what you’re doing, everything depends on the people you are creating memories with. The new people you get to know, and the friends already surrounding you. To be able to pray and worship the same God with someone that speaks a different language, and know that your hearts are dwelling in the same place, with the same Lord, is the most awesome feeling. For me, the hardest part on outreach is the fact that we have to leave all the wonderful and lovely people we get to know.

blog-3_rolf(Photo: Helene Fjærtoft)

Then it’s so great to leave with the knowledge that some time, God knows when, we will see each other again. One thing from this culture that will stay with me forever is the hospitality and friendliness of the people here. It doesn’t matter where you’re from or when you come, you’re always welcomed into their homes and served snacks or food. They will kill any sized spider or snake if you ask them to, and if your legs are covered in bites (yes, mine are), they will crush some kind of orange root to give you as medicine. You will always feel secure in the present of the Karen people. At least I do!

These weeks have contained a lot of exciting things. We have been teaching the most beautiful kids at the school here. Even if they don’t understand any English, it’s amazing to see how you are able to communicate in other ways. We have had the opportunity to teach them about the Gospel, to sing songs with them and we have played a lot of games. In addition to the teaching, we have also done some practical work. This meaning picking and bagging corn in the fields. In the evenings we have been visiting the homes, where we have prayed and seen healing, eaten a lot of good snacks, and gotten to know the people in the village. Through singing, laughing and sharing some of our testimonies, we have seen God work in wonderful ways. After a few days of vacation we are now ready to continue our outreach in a new country.  Now we’re heading east towards the Cambodian border. I’m so excited to get to know new people, a new culture, eat new food, and see God’s plans for us in Cambodia.

Lots of love from Asia!  Helene, DTS Student

Village life

villagelife

It’s been a while since the last update, and the reason for that is the life without electricity and internet. But here are some updates from our two first weeks in the village Maw Kwee in the middle of the jungle of Thailand. Adventure.   

We have just returned back to the YWAM base in Thailand, after some amazing days in the village. We have showered in a river, taught at a school, torn down a house and made room for a new one, ate rat, killed a snake, and also gotten to know some lovely brothers and sisters in Christ.

After two hours in the back of a pick-up truck, we arrived in the village Maw Kwee. We drove through a river, and up a dusty road, which I don’t think would be called a road in Norway. We finally stopped and were met by the Karen-DTS team, and a lot of beautiful kids from the village. The first day we got settled in, took our first shower in the river with sarongs, which wasn’t that easy…
The next day began at 6 am with work duties- making food, cleaning and getting water, quiet time to spend with Jesus, and then breakfast at 7:30 am. The first challenge came right after breakfast: teaching. Christina, Ana and I got a translator and three classes, and without any preparation we stood in front of a class with kids that were eager to learn. After that day I didn’t want do do anything like that again. I can say that my wish was not granted. But after several days with teaching, and some more preparation, it became more fun.

During the week we also got to help the Damola project. This is a project started for the women in Maw kwee in 2012, where they weave things like zipper bags, table runners, handbags and many other things, and sell them in Thailand, Norway, and the U.S. We helped out with different things, like sewing. We are also learning the Karen language and soon we’ll be perfectly good at making Asian food. The “colla was”, also known as the white people, are slowly but safely getting intergraded into this new culture.

During these weeks we have heard a lot of stories. Many of these stories are hard for many of us to even understand or imagine. This village contains mostly of people from Myanmar who have moving stories to tell about their lives, from situations we can’t even imagine. Strong stories from the civil war, soldiers taking over villages with violence, natural disasters…  This really opens our eyes, and makes us appreciate the things we take for granted. We should be better at thanking for the people we have around us, for having a bed, food and clothes. So wherever you are in the world, be thankful, cause we have always something to be grateful for. Make sure your heart is in the right place. As it says in proverbs 4.23; keep your heart with all diligence(…). It says ‘your’ heart. Don’t worry about others, but make sure that your heart is where you want it to be. Because when it’s all over, that is what matters. I will conclude by quoting a wise friend: “We are too small to get in the way of God doing great things through us. Just by walking you are carrying Jesus to dark places. Remember that God is in your presence whether you feel it or not.”

And please continue to pray for us. Blessings from Thailand.

Helene
DTS student