International Ministries

Nearly 20 years, a work of love

March 8, 2011 Journal
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Twenty years ago Timothée Kabila was a school principal.  His deep faith and interest in how the church can contribute to the economic and social development of a country like Congo led him to a position on the board of the Lusekele Agricultural Development Center.  He joined the staff here as administrator in September 1991.

Two weeks after he arrived, Congo experienced the first buck of political upheaval in the form of riots in Kinshasa.  That upheaval cleaved Lusekele’s US- and Canada-based funding and interrupted one mission partnership for a year, the other permanently.  Suddenly he was learning how to support extension work without significant outside financing.  Financial crisis fostered conflict.  Lusekele barely survived.  You can imagine how he felt.  Why had God led him to this place at that time?

Those first two years were not the only time when he has asked that question.  Lusekele has known other financial crises.  Timothée became the director of  Lusekele.  He has tenaciously fought encroachments on the land set aside as a base for regional extension work.  He has patiently fended off predatory government officials looking for a part of any action, even before it wiggles.  And he stoically tries to ignore the envious church people who can’t imagine that a “large and distinguished agricultural project” like Lusekele doesn’t net Timothée a handsome personal profit every year. He puts up with the guff so that six dedicated extension agents can work regularly with poor farmers and have a place to come home to at the end of every week.

It’s not just Timothée who has made sacrifices.  He and his wife Marthe have long balanced vocation and the practical demands of raising a family of 6 surviving kids – not without difficulty.  They have always had to supplement the meager Lusekele salary.  When it came time to put everyone high school and college, Marthe decided that one of them had to look after their independent family business full-time.  She runs the pharmacy and store 100 miles from Lusekele on the main Kikwit-Kinshasa highway.  They are apart much of the time, but the sacrifice frees Timothée to continue his ministry here.

Timothée and the others that work here have chosen a vocation.  They rarely receive a word of praise, encouragement or thanks.  Still, the litany of the positive changes Lusekele has to semi-subsistence farmers is impressive.  It has worked with over 580 local groups of farmers in over 400 villages.  Innovations have covered poultry and animal raising, gardening, field crops, fruit trees and plantation crops over the years.  Current improved varieties of manioc, peanuts and cowpeas promise to double agricultural production and expand opportunities for rural households as their use spreads.  This is the fruit of a relative handful of Christian believers who have dedicated their lives to the Lord and to making the lives of neighbors who are even poorer than they are better.

Timothée has often said that ACDI’s work has prospered in a modest way only because God has protected and sustained it.  This is my appeal to you to pray for Timothée and Marthe particularly.  

     Thank the Lord for their sacrifices and the fruit they have borne.

     Pray that the Lord will give them the tangible encouragement in their work and ministry.

     Ask the Lord for a vision of where Lusekele should go from here

     Pray that competent and enthusiastic young people will bring their energy to Lusekele

     Pray that Timothée will have the wisdom to seek out capabilities that Lusekele doesn’t yet have.