Dear Pastors, Missionaries, Chaplains and friends,
Steve here...I just got back from visiting our Fellowship International missionaries in Kenya and the D.R. Congo. Our French Regional (AÉBÉQ) Director, Gilles Lapierre, and Pastor Jean-Philippe Lapierre travelled with my wife and me. This was my first visit to Africa and, as someone warned me, it did get into my blood.
We visited Andy and Janet Wildsmith at Scott Christian University in Kenya. The Wildsmiths have spent the last 30 years serving in Nigeria and Kenya, teaching and training future African pastors and missionaries.
The church in Africa has expanded remarkably; it has grown from 10 million believers in 1900 to over 360 million believers in 2000. The expansion is not slowing down and, as a result, the African Church desperately needs qualified Christian leaders. The Wildsmiths have committed their lives to help to fill this continual need. We were so impressed by their students’ desire to serve the Lord.
On one stretch of highway while we were driving with the Wildsmiths, Andy's car was hit from behind; this sent us into a ditch, causing our vehicle to roll a couple of times. Four other cars were involved in the crash, but there were no injuries. Praise the Lord! In addition to this accident, the horrific terror that unfolded a few weeks back in a Nairobi mall while we were in Kenya underscores the need for us to pray for the safety of our missionaries.
We spent the second half of our trip with Richard and Brenda Flemming in the Democratic Republic of Congo. The Flemmings are partnered with a Congolese Baptist denomination of nearly 1,000 churches, along with a humanitarian ministry called FONDAK. As in Kenya, the Congolese believers were very welcoming. This is a country that is suffering through war and many privations. The poverty is widespread and unemployment is significant.
The Flemmings are helping to establish a missions department among these Congolese churches and to support them in church planting throughout their country and francophone Africa. It's a remarkable vision and our Fellowship is in partnership withthese Baptist Churches.
Fellowship Youth Support Congolese Young People
We visited several humanitarian projects during our stay, including a literacy school and two training centers. One center trains young women in sewing/dressmaking, and the other is a brick manufacturing business for seven young men. All these young people live in a desperate slum in Kinshasa called Cosbaki.
The brick business began 18 months ago after FEB Central’s youth gave donations during their winter Snow Camps. These donations combined with funding through FAIR made it possible for these young men to live together in the ghetto making a modest living, while receiving training to become mechanics or drivers. They all have high hopes of leaving Cosbaki one day. The amazing thing is that they are also hosting Bible studies each week in this slum. For seven years, fifteen members — led by Mama Helen (from a nearby Baptist Church) — visited this slum weekly seeking to establish a spiritual beachhead.
It took funds from our own Fellowship youth to help start the first Bible study in this slum of 3,000 people and zero churches. Cosbaki would break your heart if you saw it. However, these young brick-makers are bringing hope to this hopeless part of town.
We ended our visit with Gilles Lapierre, Jean-Philippe Lapierre and me speaking at a Congolese Baptist Pastors Conference.
Please CLICK HERE to hear a greeting to our Fellowship family from over 200 pastors.
Keep praying for the Wildsmiths in Kenya and the Flemmings and Midigos serving in the Congo. There are exciting days ahead for the church in Africa.
Have a blessed week,