They call it the "Camp". It's really a humble place by Western standards. The houses are small two-room bungalows, often sleeping 6-8 people depending on how many children in the family. In fact, the family usually grows during the three years that the students are with us. They love to return to their villages with a new baby to remind of their time in Kikongo. The truth is that they return to their villages with many great memories, many new life changing experiences, new friends and a whole new set of skills to help them to lead the church wherever God sends them. As professors we help a bit. We teach them the theology and the truths of the Bible. But, it's in the "Camp" where the students and their families learn to live out what they believe.
The families arrive knowing no one. They are assigned a home and may not even speak the same languages or eat the same food as their neighbor in the next bungalow. This is because Congo has so many people groups and so many languages and cultures. It's the first time ever for many of them to live in anything other than a mud hut near their family. It's the first time for most of them to live in a tight knit community of Christians and to study and pray together on a daily basis. It's the first time for all of them to find a staff of leaders who want to invest in them and to help them to gain ministry and other skills.
In a lot of ways, the "Camp" is a spiritual safe-haven for these pastoral students and their families as they learn and grow stronger in their faith. As humble as it is, it is a time that the students remember fondly as the the place where their roots went deep and their faith grew. It's in the "Camp" where the love of Christ brings healing and hope to these future pastors. It's a real blessing to watch these families that come from many different origins learn to love each another and to live as Christians should in community.
Please pray for our students and their families.
Pray that their time in the "Camp" will be fruitful.
Pray that they will return to their villages with a new vision for living out the Christian life.
Pray that they will be trained and equipped for the ministry that God has chosen for them in the rural villages of Congo.
God's blessings to you and yours,
Mike and Jill Lowery