South Africa Conference
Jill and Mandela
Greetings! It's been a couple of weeks since you heard from us. I wanted to give you an up-date on what we're doing.
Michael and I just got back from attending a conference in South Africa. The Conference was on Leadership and the 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. It was taught from a biblical perspective by Dr. Sam Chetti, the regional minister for American Baptists Churches of Los Angeles. We had wanted to attend the seminar last year in California, but it was right during Matt's knee surgery. We later found out that Dr. Chetti was going to be in our neighborhood, in South Africa, to teach the seminar to Indian pastors and leaders there, and he invited us to join them. What a blessing it was to sit alongside our South African brothers and sisters and learn the material. We had great discussions and fellowship. It feels much more like we've been to a retreat than a working conference. One thing that surprised me was though I actually went thinking I was learning the principles only to pass them on the ladies that I work with here in Congo. I had no idea how much this conference would impact me personally. I love when God does that!
Last Sunday was Michael's first official week as pastor of the International Protestant Church of Kinshasa. He did a great job preaching. Of course, that's only one part of the job of shepherding the church. Keep praying for his ministry there. Tomorrow Michael heads up to Kikongo for the first time this term to teach classes at the Pastors' Training Institute. He's especially excited about meeting this year's new pastoral students and the opportunity he has in helping shape the way they will do ministry for the rest of their lives. Please keep these guys and their families in your prayers as they have many challenges ahead.
Our work with the youth of the International Protestant Church is going well. Friday we had a fun night playing Capture the Flag. There were almost 50 kids there. It wasn't really planned as an outreach event, but some of the new kids are now interested in joining us on a regular basis. God is good! As part of the youth group ministry, we also have mentor groups that meet bi-weekly. I'm co-leading the girls' high school group and we're meeting for the first time today. Please keep us in your prayers. This is a group of girls who are serious about their faith. It is a privilege to be part of their lives and watch them grow spiritually.
I had told you that I was hoping to meet with the women so we could begin strategic planning for re-opening Mitendi. Unfortunately, three out of the five women are sick and our meeting was put off. Battling illness is a constant struggle in Congo. I want to ask specifically for your prayers for Mama Koba, our women's president, who has been in the hospital with complications from malaria. She was able to go home Friday, but is still very weak. Without her presence, we can accomplish nothing.
On a personal note, we had a bit of a scare with Matthew a couple of days ago. He came home from school doubled over with severe pain in his lower abdomen. He had many of the classic symptoms for an appendicitis – something you do not want to have to deal with in the Congo. Praise God for Dr. Bill Clemmer and Nurse Practitioner Katherine Niles who came immediately to Matt's side (you will never have such good medical care in the U.S.). Matt's symptoms lasted all day and we really thought he was going to have to have surgery. Needless to say, we did a lot of praying. That evening, just as Dr. Clemmer was making the final decision about what to do, Matt's situation changed. So as not to embarrass Matt, I will say that we think he had some kind of intestinal blockage which suddenly unblocked itself. After several quick trips to the bathroom Matt's pain was gone! I don't know if this was a miraculous healing or Matt's body taking care of itself. In either case, God gets all the glory! This event was another reminder of just how vulnerable we are in the Congo, and that our protection and security come from God alone. “God is our refuge and strength, always ready to help in times of trouble. Therefore, we will not fear...” Psalm 46:1&2
Thank you for your sustaining prayers!
Jill & Mike Lowery