Posted by: Omar C. Garcia | November 1, 2015

Small Beginnings

Democratic Republic of the Congo | 22 October 2015

The rainy season is still weeks away in the Democratic Republic of the Congo — but it has rained anyway over the past two days. Although the rain was refreshing, it did complicate things a bit for us as we slept in tents along the shores of Lake Tanganyika. Just as we were getting accustomed to the searing heat in the daytime, we had to adjust to keeping ourselves and our gear dry.

Rainy Day Boy
The rain also slowed us down a bit — in fact, it slowed everything down in the village. People waited until the rain lightened up before starting their day. During the heaviest rain we hunkered down in a dark hut adjacent to our campsite and kept dry under its thatched roof. This wait-time turned into a prayer time.

Rainy Day
As soon as the rain started to let up, we ventured out to engage with the people of the villages near our base camp. On one rainy day, my friend Terry and I and our translator decided to hike the narrow trail that followed the rugged shoreline from our base camp to the next village. The hike was nothing short of spectacular and afforded us amazing vistas of Lake Tanganyika.

Omar & Terry Hike
We stopped to share Bible stories with a young family at the first village we came to. Like everyone else we met, they had never heard anything about the creation of the world nor how God had made the first man and woman. So, we started there. Chronological Bible storying is tedious work but important because it sets the context for understanding Jesus and why He came.

Terry Hike Rocks
After a pleasant visit we ventured farther down the trail toward the next village. The last quarter-mile of the trail disappeared into a chaotic jumble of slick boulders. It looked intimidating until a mother with a baby wrapped in a sling came by, hopping from boulder to boulder in flip-flops. Folks here walk this rugged trail every day and do so with mountain goat agility. As for us flat-landers, not so much but we did enjoy the challenge of picking a good line from rock to rock.

Edwardi Arrives Village
The final turn into the village was National-Geographic-picturesque. Absolutely beautiful. As we walked past wooden fishing boats and a jumble of nets on the sandy shore, we met an 80-year old man from Zambia. He was sitting on the porch of his granddaughter’s home situated within a stone’s throw from the shoreline. He welcomed us with enthusiasm and invited us to sit with them.

Terry & Edwardi
After listening to his story and asking him lots of questions about his life, we learned that he had heard about Jesus. So, we talked about Jesus. As we sat and faced the lake, we shared stories about how Jesus had called His first disciples along the Sea of Galilee and demonstrated His power over nature on this lake that figures so prominently in all four Gospels. Both he and his granddaughter listened with great interest as we talked about Jesus and why He had come.

Red Tree Kids
One thing is certain when visiting with people who have little or no understanding of the Scripture — you have to be patient and build their understanding about God one story at a time. Over the course of our time of storying in the villages, a dozen people came to faith in Christ, some with grateful tears in their eyes. Our Safwa partners started and will continue the discipleship process to prepare these new believers to take ownership of their remote slice of geography.

Omar & Red Tree
In the parables of the kingdom in Matthew 13, Jesus likened the kingdom of God to things that start small but then become big — like a tiny mustard seed that grows to become the largest tree in the garden or a small amount of leaven that a woman worked into a large amount of flour. We rejoice that the kingdom of God has now come to a small fishing village in a remote part of the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Pensive Edwardi
We are confident that the small beginnings of the kingdom in this remote place on the planet will indeed grow over the coming years and spread from home to home and on to neighboring villages as one transformed life touches another. That, after all, is how the gospel came to us — and that is the leavening power of the kingdom!

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