I recently had the opportunity to fly into the Congo for a 6-day mission. My flight would take me down along the western shores of Lake Albert, across a vast rainforest canopy, and into Joseph Conrad’s “Heart of Darkness”. I was excited for the opportunity to explore the unknown, and experience a kind of Africa that I had yet to meet.
My passengers for the next 6 days were 4 national church leaders—Congolese pastors, each with an incredible desire to serve and a passion to the the Gospel penetrate deeply into the heart of their country. As we set out our journey, little did I know that I would be steeping back in time, and that I would come face to face with those who have gone before me.
When we arrived in Banda, I was overtaken with the sheer beauty of its environment. On the edge of the rainforest, the landscape was a mixture of ripe mango trees, palm trees, thick grass and billowing spoke from the surrounding village. Over the next few days I would come to know this landscape and the people who occupy it much better. With warm faces, and kind eyes, I was eagerly welcomed into this isolated community.
As I walked through the village I wondered how those missionaries must have felt as they first arrived. Were they greeted with the same sincerity as I was? What challenges must they have faced?
Very few of us will be remembered. With the passing of time, each generation fades away into the pages of history, nameless. Lifetimes poured out in the pursuit of vastly different ideas, goals, and treasures. What remains of us once we have exhausted our resources and returned to ground from which we came?
“Only one life, yes only one,
Now let me say,”Thy will be done”;
And when at last I’ll hear the call,
I know I’ll say “twas worth it all”;
Only one life,’twill soon be past,
Only what’s done for Christ will last. ”
As my passengers and I made our way through the community, we eventually came upon a church. Full of congolese Christ-followers offering worship to the one who created all things for His glory. The good news of the Gospel had been there—the seeds had taken root, and the vine is full of sweet fruit.
A century after those first missionaries came with their caskets on their backs, following the example of another who came before who carried a cross, the church in Congo is alive—it has been ransomed from the sting of death. Where there was once fear there is now liberty. Where there was once darkness there is now light. Where there was once death there is now life.
The story of what God has done in places like Congo is just a small example of what God has done in so many other places, and what he continues to do—won’t you join Him and be a part?