What compels you to invest in Congo?
We lived in Eastern DRC for 4 1/2 years. During that time I grew to admire, respect, and love the Congolese people that we were privileged to know. I saw the exploitation of the vulnerable and the lack of justice that prevented the people of DRC to lead lives where basic human rights were present. I was humbled by the work of the Congolese women and men I met, to help each other in any way they could, despite insurmountable odds. I was convicted that we all our the hands and feet of Jesus in this world, and perhaps there was a way I could join in their work of showing God's love to their neighbor--serving the poor and vulnerable, bringing light into darkness, and hope in times of despair. In end end, how could I not invest in Congo?
What is one of the most redemptive moments you’ve experienced working with ROH?
There are many moments, but one of the more memorable moments was when we were contacted by someone who knew of a baby that was orphaned (mother had died) and being cared for a very aged and sickly grandmother. The baby was ill and starving, she was taken in by Mama Sifa for about 9 months and loved well. Then a search was done to see if any other family would care for her--they would not. So, another Congolese family came forward to adopt her and she is now living with this family--loved and thriving.
What is a way you’ve seen God work through this organization?
I have seen so many doors open (and some painfully close) to serve God with amazing women and men in DRC. Even when we wonder how we will fund the dreams and hopes of our partners, we just keep trusting that God will provide if we are faithful in our work. I have especially loved three parts of our programs as they've grown over the past few years. In Kinshasa, watching vulnerable women learn a trade and given the skills to start a business has been so humbling and rewarding. In Eastern DRC, sending children to school that would otherwise not be going, and knowing the long term impact for these kids, is something I'm proud we are doing. And finally, the reunification of 12 children into families is something I will treasure forever. Most of all, children should know the love of family, that they are deeply and forever loved.
What have you learned from our Congolese partners
Humility--I have learned that I am a pretty small part of amazing work being done by our Congolese partners. The work existed before I came along and will exist long after I leave. I have learned the greatness of the God we serve and the courage of His followers in hard places.
Faith--I have have been humbled by the deep conviction of our partners and their persistence in believing that God is present and deeply loves them, even when tragedy strikes again and again.
Sacrifice--I have learned about what it means to lay down your life to serve your God and trust that He has your life completely in His hands.
Hard Work-- I have learned what it means to work with integrity and honesty in difficult situations with corruption and exploitation often beating on your door.
Love--I have watched our partners show love and dignity to the smallest and most vulnerable child. Perhaps the image that sticks with me in this moment was when our eastern DRC director was sitting and chatting with another staff member and a little boy that lived in the orphanage came up and laid his head in his lap and slept. Or perhaps the image of Mama Sifa taking the babies into her own room and space and making sure they were shown the love of a mother, instead of an orphanage crib.
What are you most hopeful about for the future?
I am hopeful that through education and the love of family, the children we serve will be the forces of change in DRC. I am hopeful that the women and their children that are learning job skills will be a force of change in DRC. I am hopeful that through our Congolese partnerships we can stand in the gap for families that would otherwise break apart in a country that has little to no social safety network. I am hopeful that we can strengthen the work of our Congolese sisters and brothers who are giving their lives to be the feet and hands of Jesus. That everyone they touch would know they are deeply loved by God.