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That’s one thing I like about these Congolese Christians. They aren’t asking for a handout, but rather a handup. It’s the best way we Americans can support God’s work in Africa.

July 1

Open Hands sharing God's Love.

Open Hands Missions

PO Box 332 Dry Creek, La 70637

http://www.creekbank.net             337 328 7215                curtiles@aol.com

July 1, 2010                                                                                                                       Dry Creek, Louisiana

I want to thank you for your help with our recent trip to Congo, Africa. Whether you prayed, gave, encouraged, or sent items, you were a key part of this mission journey. I’ve titled this trip “Red Dirt and Gray Rock.”

We worked in two areas of The Democratic Republic of Congo. “Red Dirt” designates the area of Bukavu, a city that sits at the southern end of Lake Kivu. Much of Central Africa is a land of red dirt and Bukavu is no exception. It was my first trip to Bukavu where we were privileged to be part of the ministry of Pastor Desire and the many churches and ministries he deals with.

The highlight of the entire trip was seeing Africa through the eyes of our Louisiana girls: teens Carly Hill, Marybeth Anderson, Amber Case, Landie Maddox, Amanda Murray, and Lydia Gothrup. These “Dry Creek girls” (all have worked at Dry Creek Camp) held hundreds of babies and touched countless lives with their compassion and smiles. Visit their Facebook pages to see their photos and stories. In “Red Dirt Bukavu” we worked at feeding centers for children, visited ministries for rape victims and widowed women, helped at schools and churches, as well as witnessing a baptism we’ll never forget.

You can view the baptismm at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ejce3_pCDI8

The Louisiana girls came home and raised over $1000 selling T-shirts at Camp to benefit the feeding centers in Bukavu. This will mean nearly one hundred malnourished children will receive a daily nutritious meal for the month of July!

My return to the eastern Congo city of Goma was both emotional and gratifying. This city, sitting at the foot of an active volcano is the “Gray Rock” part of my title. Covered with mounds (and roads) of lava rock, it is a stark and sad place. Evidence of civil war, poverty, and corruption confront you at every turn.

Reggie Burnaman, Bill Calloway, and I worked in Goma in last year. It was wonderful to return and reunite with our many friends in the over one hundred Baptist churches near Goma. Our hosts Pastor Habimana Athanase and Rusty Pugh (IMB missionary) took great care of us.

I saw fruit from our last visit. The churches are still sharing their faith with the simple method we shared in 2009. (Telling your 3-minute story with three parts: My life before I met Christ/How I met Christ and the change He brought about/How you can meet Christ.)

I was privileged to present a gift from Reggie Burnaman and his church (Glenmora Baptist) to the Baptist Union of Churches. It was used to buy two grist mills for grinding corn and cassava. The profit from these will be used to promote missions. Bethanie Baptist Church (Pastor Pascal) has recently started three mission churches in war-ravaged areas. Their grist mill will be used to support these mission efforts.

Pastor Pascal Ndihokubwimana and his wife Julienne; Bethany Baptist Church, Goma, Congo

That’s one thing I like about these Congolese Christians. They aren’t asking for a handout, but rather a handup. It’s the best way we Americans can support God’s work in Africa.

I close with our most traumatic visit to a remote village called Sake. The residents have just returned after being chased away by rebel forces two years ago. After living in refugee conditions near Goma, they came home to find nothing left—crops, homes, or furnishings.

You can view a touching story and photos on this village at www.imb.org by clicking on http://www.imb.org/main/news/details.asp?StoryID=8581

We met in the dirt-floored church and were showered with love and hospitality. Congolese worship is so full of joy and emotion and knowing what these folks had been through added to the sense of worship. As we left, they requested one thing from “The Americans:” Would we be willing to supply bean seeds for their entire village? We inquired and found the price would be $700, a figure we didn’t have on hand, but promised to pursue upon our return home.

Here’s the good news: we’ve just wired $700 to Pastor Habimana to be shared by the Sake Baptist Church among the entire village for planting a bean crop. Where did the money come from? Last week I was camp missionary for GA Girls Camp at Dry Creek. The girls gave this and more to “plant beans in Sake.”

Congolese children with pole bean vines running up cassava plants.

Another one of our team members, Pastor Lonnie Gothrup (Lonnie, along with Mike Murray, accompanied their daughters on the trip.) shared this scripture on our trip.

You did not choose me, but I chose you

and appointed you to go and bear fruit —fruit that will last.

Jesus in John 15:16

We were able to “plant seeds” for lasting fruit in the lives of the wonderful people of Eastern Congo. We could not have gone without your help and support.

Therefore, you are now invested in “Red Dirt and Gray Rock” country. Pray for this needy area where God is working. As God leads, we’ll return in 2011.

Writing and living for a Reason,

Curt Iles

http://www.creekbank.net

About Curt Iles

I write to have influence and impact through well-told stories of my Louisiana and African sojourn.

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