Tanya* sold her house and packed up her UK life to spend a year in DR Congo, joining long term missionary Annemarie Boks in a town called Adi, 69 km away from the Ugandan border. Tanya is working as a doctor, using her skills to help the two permanent doctors in the hospital there. She feels called as a Christian to be a living representation of the command to “love your neighbour as yourself’’, and has felt called to work in Africa since the age of eight.
Annemarie Boks is a long term missionary currently living in Adi, DR Congo. She is a trained nurse and works in the Aids Awareness Programme of the CECA 20, the church with which AIM is working in DR Congo.
It is not easy to accept a short termer into your house when you have been living on your own for years. Sometimes schedules are disrupted because they want to talk when you want to rest or need to concentrate on something that needs your full attention.
I definitely needed to get used to sharing my house, home, and life with a short term missionary. I am currently sharing my home with the third missionary since November 2014, because I like having them in my life. By sharing my life, I share my love for the Congolese people and my ministry and although I have lost privacy and some moments of quiet, I have also gained a lot.
Taking time for one another means that we can encourage each other. This encouragement grows even deeper when we talk about our concerns and pray together, knowing that we can leave it with God and grow in trusting him. Then there are also the fun times when we share our home and meals with friends, playing games and watching movies. I have learnt again that being a Christian is about sharing Christ and our lives with one another.
‘Soki Nzambe Alingi’
The phrase means ‘If God wills’, in Bangala, the local language in Adi, DR Congo. For me it has come to represent every aspect of life here. When I boarded the plane in the UK, I asked God to use this year as he wanted. Three months in, this prayer has been answered in so many wonderful ways. I have learned to soften my heart to God’s plan, which, though often unexpected and challenging, is infinitely rewarding.
One of my roles here is working in the hospital. There are many sick people and few resources, but God is present. One day I came across a young man with severe pneumonia. The antibiotics were not working. That night I went home and prayed, “Lord, if you heal him, I will proclaim the gospel to him”. The next day, the same man who had been fighting death was playing with his daughter and wanting to go home. I had the honour of telling him that his healing was miraculous and an answer to prayer.
God as comforter
As well as a healer, God is a great comforter. I often work with the hospital chaplain, talking about God with patients and reassuring them of his presence right at their lowest ebb. One child had complicated TB, resulting in tender lumps all over his body. One Saturday, I bought him a soda and whilst he drank away happily, in (very) broken Bangala, said a few sentences about how God loved him and was right there with him. I often find that after our ‘prayer round’ many patients are more comfortable and happier. This little chap was no exception.
Outside the hospital
Not all of my work is in the hospital. Very soon after I arrived, the wife of the chief died. We went with her body and sat whilst the air filled with the grief of her relatives, including her young daughters. The next day we visited the village for the funeral. By the end, I was emotionally on my knees, praying, “I can’t do this, please send me home, I’m no use. This country is too big and confusing, and I am too small”. The answer came clearly and with a wave of peace, “I don’t need you to do anything. Concentrate on being where I want you to be and I’ll do the doing through you”.
Where I need to be varies from hour to hour. Maybe I need to be on the road, such as the week spent with the HIV project, singing, dancing and encouraging people to get tested. Maybe I’m in the hospital chapel reading from the Bible in Bangala, in front of a hut with a lady at the end of her life, or praying with Annemarie. But, like every other missionary, and indeed every other Christian, first and foremost I need to be abiding in God; attentive and obedient, trusting that his plan really is better than mine. Each person I meet is a person to be engaged with, learnt about and blessed with encouragement directly from the Holy Spirit.
Soki Nzambe alingi. What is God’s will today?
*names changed for security