Today I was the speaker in the morning service. Someone told me afterwards that I had given a good sermon. I don’t know that I would give it that name but I suppose, when the pastor is away, it could be interpreted as such. It was just a telling of things God did for me on my trip to the Congo.
Another young man who spent six months in the same area also got up and told a couple of stories of people he had met and how they affected him. He is very taciturn by nature and did an excellent job. He spent time with Dr Jacques Kongawi and his impression of the love which comes through as Jacques works was the same as my observation in an earlier post.
I shared with the congregation this morning an experience from my trip. So here is part of what I told:
God was very close throughout the whole time – I had a sense of his presence and protection but I did have a couple of moments of panic. So I will share one of those with you because I learned something through that too.
I was nervous about carrying the large amount of cash with me that I knew I would need for to pay for my expenses out there. But we made it to the Congo with all the cash we started out with no problems. No mugging attempts. Nothing unusual. But when a problem arose that was bigger than the resources I could put my fingers on, I panicked. I thought I had taken enough – but I was wrong. And I could see when I began calculating the cost of the seminar, feeding the participants and paying for their rooms, that I would have barely enough to cover those expenses. That would leave us with nothing to spend on souvenirs and nothing to leave with people in Kinshasa. So I told the girls that they would have to be extremely careful. People came and asked for money and I had to let them know that I first had to pay for the seminar and that I didn’t think I would have any extra money. Maybe that was actually a blessing – to have an honest reason to turn down their requests. But when I first realized that I was short and I sat counting up my cash on the bed in my room, I had a moment of sheer panic. There is nowhere to get cash out there. If you don’t bring it, then you go without. I could not ask the missionaries out there for cash; they have a hard enough time getting it – having to actually make a trip out of the country to pick it up – and I did not want to be a burden on them.
As I sat there panicking, God reminded me that his resources were sufficient for me. I didn’t know how he was going to get me the funds I needed but He was very real to me at that point. I had to admit that, yes; he could make enough funds available. I didn’t know how. And I sure couldn’t see how it was going to happen short of money falling out of the sky. Maybe it would mean just not having any spending money in Kinshasa. Maybe it would just mean the girls would not be able to buy any cloth. Maybe it would mean we would just have to eat more simple food (although. it was hard to see how that could get simpler since we were eating mostly local food.) And so this was for me a lesson in trust. He had brought me this far. He would help me do what he had brought me out to the Congo to do.
Our trip to the Congo coincided with another visit. An American woman was visiting, representing an organization that assists pastors to improve their education kind of a bible school but more for continuing education given in short sessions. Her daughter Anna and another medical student, Tim, were also visiting the hospital at Karawa.
As we were sitting around the table one evening, I began to talk to Glenna about the difficulties of having to carry large amounts of cash out with us, how difficult it was in this land where no banks function properly. I did not tell about my shortage of funds right then. I think I was too embarrassed at my poor estimation of the costs. But she told me just how much she had brought. I thought I was at risk carrying about $1500 US. She had brought many times that. And she said I actually am not going to need all of it. I think I will see if the G’s would like to buy some of it from me.” Well, I don’t know if they or Nancy Jo needed more cash right then but I sure did. God provided just the right amount. I was able to get enough to pay for everything I really needed, help out some deserving people that I had wanted to help, and even have enough for buying a few little souvenirs. It is a lesson in trust that I won’t soon forget I hope, although it is sure easy to forget how much we need to, and can, rely on God to provide for us.