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Washington Spencerville Korean Missionaries See God’s Leading in The Congo
Story by Charles Yang
In February 13 high school and college students answered God’s call and volunteered to go on a mission trip to Congo. With about three months to prepare, there was a lot to do. We put together the evangelism programs, practiced children’s stories, song, and collected presents for the children in Congo. In addition, we organized events such as children’s banquet and Mother’s Day banquet to raise funds for the trip and met three times a week to read the Spirit of Prophecy together. Since the mission trip was at the end of the school year, some missionaries chose to miss their graduation ceremonies while others worked to finish their final exams just before the trip.
God saw the dedicated young people and showed us miracles even before arriving in Congo. When all of the presents, medicine, evangelism tools and materials and personal bags were packed, there were total of 40 bags—26 of them were the largest traveling bags—but when we arrived at the airport, we were told that we could only take half of them and that we would be charged a penalty for the rest of the bags. God heard our fervent prayers, and within an hour, He softened the attendants’ hearts and doubled the blessing by lifting all restriction on the number of bags and maximum weight allowed.
The road to Congo was far and difficult. We were on the plane for 18 hours and switched planes twice and waited a total of 10 hours. Once we arrived in Uganda’s Entebe airport, we drove to the border of Congo for eight hours, and from there, we drove on an unpaved road for seven hours to our destination, Butembo. During the three days of travel to the destination, we were once held in the immigration office, and our tire blew out in the middle of the night in front of the military camp where it gets dangerous at night. Since the roads were unpaved, the car ride felt like riding a roller coaster, and some of the missionaries had breathing problems due to the dust rising from the dirt road. Some suffered diarrhea. But praise the Lord, every morning God helped us to wake up to fulfill our goal! Congo was an unfamiliar environment at first, without the convenience of abundant water or electricity, but it was a time where we experienced and communicated with our living God.
The purpose of the mission trip was to re-visit Washington-Spencerville Korean Seventh-Adventist church’s’ 26 sister churches established two years ago and to give encouragement and build stronger relationships, as well as to lead a children and youth evangelism program to plant seeds of faith in the young people’s hearts. We visited a different church in the morning and held meetings for children and youth in the afternoon. The difficulty of visiting 26 different churches and schools on unpaved roads in a week is hard to imagine unless one has experienced it. Even the pastor who has lived in Congo for two years said he was exhausted and wanted to just stop at times. One can imagine how tiring it must have been for the young missionaries. Even in the unfavorable conditions and grueling schedule, there weren’t even the smallest disagreements, and we fasted and prayed for each other when some of the members fell sick and consoled and encouraged one another. Every morning we were ready to spread His word with joyful hearts.
The support from Washington-Spencerville Korean church to its sister churches in Congo goes beyond a financial one; the sister churches receive support, so it can be a self-sufficient church. Each year 130 students receive financial scholarship for their education, and the students are encouraged to actively serve the church and to evangelize. Therefore, in a year, there are numerous mission works taking place organized by the local churches in Congo and led by students. The churches that sponsored our mission trip were the three largest churches in that area: Makaella, Butahira, and Busehi. While we were there, about 40 church members from the three churches took turns maintaining the outdoor tent set for evangelistic meetings. Every morning, they visited each household in the area and prayed together. We were able to see their faith and passion for God.
In Congo, white-skinned foreigners are called Mujoongu. We were also considered white-skinned Korean Mujoongu from America. For the church we were visiting, the sight of the parade of dancing members, 2-3 kilometers from the church, accompanying the Mujoongu heightened the excitement. They showed that our arrival had a special significance to them. In addition, they showered us with flower baskets, goats, lamb, chicken, etc. as part of a festive African tradition that truly warmed our hearts. We wondered whether, in their minds, the arrival of the Korean Mujoongu to the remote Congo was a revolutionary revelation of the existence of another world. But throughout the mission trip, we realized that more than the small presents we gave out, the people appreciated our simple words and little gestures. And we felt a slow change of interest from the Korean Mujoongu to the One we are introducing, namely the Mujoongu Jesus. That week was spent at times laughing, sometimes crying, dancing together, welcoming and embracing each other.
The Closing Sabbath
Finally, 322 precious souls’ names were recorded in the Book of Life. Of course, it doesn’t end with the 322 individuals. More baptisms continue after the evangelistic efforts. This was all possible through the support of the Washington-Spencerville Korean members, its 26 small groups, the North American Korean Adventist participants, the Congo churches working with the evangelism coordinator to visit door to door and make preparations, the sacrificial labors of the mission team and our partnership with the Holy Spirit who in small and large miraculous ways gave us fair skies every morning during a monsoon season and allowed us to experience His providence. This kind of love raised the Congo church and will extend the reach of the Lord’s gospel work.
Leaving for home in an unsteady minivan, we were moved to tears as we left the beloved 322 spiritually reborn youth and children. Strangely, we’ve grown accustomed to the bumpy and dusty dirt roads and shaky cars. While preparing for the trip, there were three goals of our mission team: To be a praying missionary, a prepared missionary and a healthy missionary. After having returned, we realize that our pre-trip preparation was lacking, our prayers were more fervent during the evangelism than before and we suffered physical exhaustion and diarrhea by the end of the trip. We had forgotten to add the fourth goal of remembering to be God-led missionaries. Nevertheless, we can’t neglect praising God who granted a perfect mission experience. We thank God who transformed our feeble human prayers and preparations into His glorious will through this effort.
Finally, our special thanks also goes to Pastor Hyosoo Jeong and his wife in Congo and Pastor Youngsik Hahm and his wife in Uganda for their provisions toward us; and we pray for their continued protection and success in God.