WOTS team's life-changing five days in Congo
In early March, Richard George, Director of Norfolk-based The Way of the Spirit, led a team of five to run the first The Way of the Spirit conference in the DR Congo, just as coronavirus was beginning to dominate the news bulletins. Here he reports on an exciting five days.
On one of our flights it was announced as it was about to land that passengers from certain European countries would not be allowed to disembark at its final destination, Entebbe, Uganda, so consigning them to remain on board and return directly to Brussels.
Undeterred, and with reports of only one coronavirus case in Africa, we disembarked in Rwanda, successfully navigated the health screening and travelled the short distance to the home of Charles Semwaga and his family. We were greatly encouraged, to hear again about how the many in Rwanda who had been trained by previous The Way of the Spirit missions were continuing to advance in their ministries and see God at work across the whole nation.
In the morning we flew to Rwanda’s border with Democratic Republic of the Congo, where we were met by church and denomination leaders who would escort us into Bukavu. We crossed the border into the Congo without any hold up or hindrance.
DRC has an ominous reputation, living in the shadow of decades of civil war, unrest, corrupt government and fragile, largely chaotic infrastructure. Bukavu is safer than many places in the country though, and the Catholic guest house we arrived at was positively idyllic, resembling more the garden of Eden than the war zone our imaginations may had conjured up.
The 50 delegates arrived on Monday morning and we were quickly into our stride. It was a powerful, life-giving and life-changing conference. Their cry had been: ‘we have theological training but we don’t know the bible and haven’t been trained to do ministry!’ Well, during the week we saw God move among us all in powerful ways, bringing revelation, impartation and transformation. So much was packed into those five days. We also saw delegates physically healed and by the end of the week we had all changed.
With Elke (Fraser) on the team with us we were able to lead them strongly in worship; this heightened the intensity of all God was doing and by Friday they virtually demanded that we return to plant a bible college there as we had done in Uganda. The local representative of the cross-denominational churches, a large and clearly influential man, spoke prophetically about the door being open for us into the entire nation.
I have frequently been left humbled and in awe at what God does on such missions and without exception have rejoiced to see people changed. Each time I have sat in the aircraft en route home gratefully thanking God for doing above and beyond all he said he would. Many of these 50 leaders will go on to preach differently in their churches, study the bible with vastly increased expectation and excitement and go on to express all this newly discovered revival life in their ministries.
It will not be man’s plans, least of all ours, that will advance the gospel through the nation – a country the size of Europe. What has been accomplished in East Africa so far has come about by simply stepping out as God has led us, our job having been to believe him for the co-workers, funds, teams to send, land, buildings and open doors into each nation. The days are coming when, as we keep in step with the Holy Spirit, we will see the whole world filling with fruit without restriction.
We only just got back to the UK in time, flights began to be cut back and borders to close. But we did return home safely and again we had easy, almost effortless journeys. It was a little disturbing to see how, in the course of only 10 days, Amsterdam airport (our regular penultimate stop en route home from Africa) had transformed from a bustling and hectic crossroads of the world into a dystopian ghost town.
Pictured above are the Way of the Spirit team (Richard George centre back) with many of the Congo pastors at the conference.