Last day in Kinshasa
Trip Start Apr 02, 2014
33Trip End May 07, 2014
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Where I stayed
Hotel Invest Kinshasa
Read my review - 3/5 stars
Read my review - 3/5 stars
After breakfast we worked until about 10:30 when Justin and Victor arrived. We walked out to the garden and had a Fanta or tonic water (me) and talked about the state of the local church groups and their needs. The difficult economic situation is of course a constant preoccupation here. There are new people interested in our work, as was evidenced by the attendance on Monday. They are in groups used to studying the Bible together and have leaders they look to. How best can we work with groups like that? What shall we do about meeting halls for them? They are all attending Sabbath services together, but like to gather on Tuesday and Thursdays for Bible Studies. Transportation is expensive for them and Kinshasa is a big place. Could we help them with places to meet?
We encouraged them in the service they render to their brethren in Congo, and also for them to set the highest personal example they could with God’s help. Moral or other breakdown in leadership is one of the surest ways to sabotage a church group, fledgling or otherwise.
I asked about the members who stayed with our former association. We were told they have already had at least one group split, and various other difficulties as well, though I didn’t ask for the details.
We discussed festival organization, and the organization of Bible Studies. We also discussed guidelines for those who teach others out of our church literature. Not all have a good command of French and some are not literature at all, so they need the help of others to understand. In some cases, those helping others are quite young in the faith, so clear guidelines are needed, and we laid them out. They have already found our new French magazine Discerner to be very helpful as teaching material.
After several hours, they needed to leave to go back to their places of employment so we said goodbye until the evening when they would return.
Toward the end of the afternoon several young adults came by to talk. They wanted some advice on dealing with interpersonal problems and ways they could further their education and situate themselves to earn a reasonable living in this very difficult environment. We talked for an hour or so, until Justin came back with a flash drive, so I could give him e-copies of some church literature.
As we were wrapping up these impromptu meetings about 7:00 pm, a heavy downpour began outside. We said goodbye to everyone and they walked outside the hotel, while Daniel and I sprinted for the garden and the covered tables where we could have dinner. It was a short run, but the rain was so heavy we were completely soaked.
As we finished dinner the rain tapered off. As we started back the young adults we thought had left more than an hour earlier came to the table. Could they see us a moment? I asked Daniel to sign for the meal and I went to talk with them. I suspected I was going to receive a "hail Mary" pitch, and it was so. They needed help, they said, to get set up in a business so they could earn their keep. What did they hope to do? One wanted me to buy him a used photocopier, so he could open a stand and charge for making copies. I told him used photocopiers often break down especially in dusty, humid environments with wildly fluctuating currents. Well then, he said, I could buy him a freezer and some equipment to open a butcher’s shop. I asked how much that would cost. He didn’t know exactly, but said he could find out.
I’m not making light of their plight or the challenge it is to make a living here; it is very, very difficult. But in my experience these “hail Mary” type projects never really work out; I’ve seen many of them tried over the years. Rather than start small and build up, it’s tempting to try for what might be a short cut. People, especially with limited education and professional experience, don’t realize all it takes to run a successful business, even a small one. It seems easy when looking from the outside, and they’re willing to give it a try, especially with someone else’s “free” money. They’ve got nothing to lose. We seem so wealthy to them, what could it hurt? There’s no harm asking for something; all that can happen is that we say “no.” I told them to send me a proper proposal with a business plan and I’d give it a serious look. We do have some small sums that members contribute to be used as needed, that could serve. But these requests didn’t seem at all well-conceived. And unless I’m very mistaken, these projects won’t go anywhere.
To me, this is one of the hardest parts of serving in these kinds of areas. How to help materially in a realistic way, without doing harm (some kinds of giving actually do harm), and while not taking away from the accomplishment of our true mission which is preparing the way, and ourselves, for the Kingdom of God. We can’t “leave the word of God to serve tables” (Acts 6:2) and we rarely have anyone locally we can charge with this kind of thing, nor would it be easy to try to coordinate any kind of program from another continent. There don’t seem to be any easy answers. What we can do in any event is try to stay focused, balanced and pragmatic.
After I told them I’d look at their project, as they were walking to the front gate, they told me they didn’t have bus fare home, and could I give them each 1000 Francs ($1), which I did.
I will try to get to sleep early tonight; tomorrow will have an early start, and be a busy travel day.
My Review Of The Place I Stayed