Church services in Kinshasa

Trip Start Jan 15, 2009
Trip End Feb 15, 2009

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Flag of Congo - The Dem. Repub.  ,
Sunday, January 25, 2009

This morning we were to have had services at 10:00, so I was expecting Jacob between 09:00 and 09:30. But it rained hard during the night, which further messed up the roads and slowed everything down. He didn't reach the hotel until nearly 11:00. Taxis at the hotel want $50 even for short runs. Prices here are incredibly high for everything. I think it has to do with the UN and so many aid agencies being here. That always drives prices up steeply. The same used to be true in Rwanda and still is to a certain extent. To avoid paying exorbitant prices, we decided to go local. We walked out of the hotel and out a block or two to a main street where we were able to flag down an empty taxi after few minutes.  
The hall we had arranged to rent was only several miles away, so we reached it and were able to start services by 11:30. There were about 50 people present including children. They started by singing a few simply hymns in Lingala, the local language, then switched to French and sang several hymns from our hymnal. Jacob gave a sermonette on the parable of Lazarus and the rich man. The congregations sang a special song of welcome for me in French; it was the first time most of them had seen me. A man sang a beautiful vocal solo for special music. Then it was time for the sermon. I spoke on the fundamental doctrines of Hebrews 6 as I had done in La Mé. It's a subject that allows basic but vital subjects to be covered. Jacob translated phrase by phrase as we usually do here.
After services, we took some photos of the group, and then the men went back in the hall so we could have a Q&A session. There were interesting questions once again: why did so many churches switch to Sunday observance and when did that happen? What happened to the property that was owned by WCG in Pasadena and Big Sandy? What did they do with the money? (I couldn't answer that question in a very detailed way.) Why did God allow all that to go to waste?  If the Holy Spirit is given through the laying on of hands, why did God give it to Cornelius without the laying on of hands?  Did I have any eyeglasses to distribute to help them see to read? Would we help them have legal status and a regular place to meet?
We could have gone longer, but we had only rented the hall for two hours, so we ended and shook hands and said we looked forward to meeting again. Several of the people I talked to have been members for 15 years or so, several for more than 20 years. The last time most of them had a visit from a church elder was in 2004 when they parted company from the previous association over doctrinal difference. They've been more or less alone physically, although they have been receiving sermon CD's and letters of fellowship from the generous group in Belgium that I will visit next month at the end of this trip. They were very excited to have a visit and to be able to ask questions face to face.
On leaving, we walked half a mile or so to a dusty, sandy intersection where we worked several minutes to get a taxi. It was in usual taxi condition: poor. It had a shattered windshield still holding together, and worn out parts - only one wiper blade on the driver's side - with cloth wrapped around the metal on the passenger side wiper to protect the glass, it shimmied and shook us back to the hotel. And we were very happy to have transportation.
The local leaders and talked in the garden for another couple of hours continuing and wrapping up the discussion from yesterday. Francis mentioned that the manager of the complex where we had services today told him afterwards that he had been afraid we might make lots of noise and carry on like some groups do. He was impressed that we were an organized, well-behaved, serious group. He said he had listened in on part of the sermon and was intrigued by what we taught. He said he wanted to know more about our church. They'll follow up with him.

I left enough money with the men so that they can start the registration process, buy Bible for people who don't have one, and buy one concordance they can share between them for studying the Scriptures. Then we took our leave.
Jacob should be back to take me to the airport tomorrow at 6:45. You have to be really early at Ndjili Airport, since there is practically no computerization. All the check-in registration, baggage processing, everything is done by hand. Arrive 90 minutes before the flight and you may not get on (that nearly happened to me a few trips back). It's been wonderful visiting the church folks here, but I have to admit I'll breathe a sigh of relief when we go wheels-up tomorrow. Of course they have to live in these conditions all the time....

Next stop: Nairobi.
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joelmeeker on

Re: Hi Joel,
Hi Mary,
Yes, it's better to leave cash especially for heavy items like books. They can be purchased locally.
All the bets,

hervedubois on

Bonjour Mr Meeker
Concernant les paires de lunettes, je me demandais si les étudiants ABC ne pouvaient pas faire quelchose pour cela. Les paires de lunettes sont certainement difficiles à obtenir sur place, par contre ici aux USA, elles sont en vente libre. Le mieux serait que vous emportiez un paquet lors de votre prochain passage, si il n'y a pas de problèmes avec les douaniers. Savez vous combien de paires il faudrait ? Je peux voir si on peut déjà préparer quelque chose.
A bientôt


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