The city of Goma on the Congo-Rwanda border where Bill and I have made our home is overshadowed by Mount Nyiragongo, one of Africa’s most active and dangerous volcanoes. It is also a city that has tripled in size in the recent past as tens of thousands have sought refuge from the armed militias in the surrounding hills. Every week a group of women from our church visit the refugees; widows, and orphans who have set up shelter and built homes on the hardened lava bed around the volcano, to offer help and encouragement. One woman we visited was Monique, who lives with her five young children struggling to make ends meet. When we asked how we could pray for her, she replied, “Please pray I will have the force to work until the end of my days.” The ‘Fungua Maisha’ ladies gave her a $20 loan from their rotating credit program, to help start a little business to feed herself and her children. Later, I learned that the roof on their home leaked terribly, soaking her family and their meager belongings nearly every night in this rainy season. I shared her plight with a friend from a church in Connecticut who responded immediately.
We found a carpenter from our congregation here in Goma who desperately needed work; he went out and bought sheets of tin and nails for a new roof. Unfortunately, as he removed the old roof, the house literally fell apart and the outer walls collapsed. Not discouraged, this dear man set about rebuilding the entire home, finding timber for framing, using the old pieces of metal roofing to buttress the walls, and then attached the new sheets of corrugated tin overhead to keep Monique and her children dry and safe. He refused extra funds. “I said I would fix the roof,” he told me, “and God would want me to do my best.”
The other day, Monique made the long walk in town to visit our church at Heal Africa. Although the chapel has been empty due to restrictions with Covid-19, she walked up to the front and put a 1,000 Franc bill (~60 cents) into the offering basket, a day’s wage and most certainly all she had. “I wanted to thank God” she told our pastor, “for how good he has been to me and my children!”
A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows, is God in his holy dwelling. Psalm 68:5