Thursday, May 14, 2009

This will be my last post. We leave tomorrow at 8am to meet with the Chaplain of the Police here in Goma. And then at 11 we have to catch a bus to the airport in Rwanda. 3 hours of winding roads. gulp.

Today was great. We met with Camille's mentees'(I think here were about 12) and shared the Sons of Congo vision with them. This was the first crowd who were mostly youth. They had some good ideas on how to reach the youth.

In the Afternoon we were with a passionate group of 20 local nonprofit leaders. It was good to visit with them and also very hard. To hear these people say how the sexual violence has reached a level that is incomprehensible...beyond their understanding...they don't know what to do. the trauma that sometimes they take on just working with this group of people... They related stories and opinions. Different strategies that have been attempted and why they didn't work etc... They all were very grateful for the Sons of Congo Intiative. They said, "We have foresaken men!"

Lastly we met with General of the Police here in Goma. We had a riveting conversation. Much was said of which I can share with you in person. I can say that they have formed a group of trained police to fight sexual violence. It is a beginning. They are only 30 people. He has given us an open door to us as well to train and work with their police.

Well. I've asked Pastor Kasareka to say the last words:

"I am so thankful. This is my first ministry trip and it has been a blessing. I appreciate the prayers and the support that everybody gave us. Greetings! See you soon.

The Sons of Congo team.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Dear Friends,

We are coming to the end of our trip, but not our journey. There is much to do and I think I can speak for the team to say we are excited to see what the next steps are! I will try to blog one more time before we are home. Pastor Michael has left to make it home for his son’s game, Patrick and I leave for Kigali on Friday, getting home on Sunday. And Pastor Kasareka and Camille will travel on to visit Bunia, Beni, and Butembo, towns North of Goma. They will be having Pastors Meetings as well.

We’ve had good days. Camille is singing, “God is so good.” And He is right. Why would we have a song in our hearts in the middle of Goma? Because He is at work. We see the timing of God in this. This morning we met with an NGO who is one of the few attempting to target men in the fight against sexual violence, Women for Women International. It was so encouraging to hear from them. They do a once a year training of leaders. They’ve done it for the last three years. They said with the military especially, they are the most active and responsive during the training, but it doesn’t seem to affect their behavior once they go back to camp. Why? They said it simply. The lack of mentorship and follow up.

Yesterday we went back to the military camp to visit Brother Joseph’s ministry team.
These people have practically no resources but they are very organized and working hard to reach military men. We heard from the entire team. We can talk to you more about that in person. . We are praying about the ways we can partner with them. I spoke at L’Arche’s Bible Study for women and that evening and then we did some massive team debriefing, getting ready to come home to YOU!

This afternoon Pastor Kasareka spoke at the men’s Bible study at L’Arche. We visited Femme Plus, UNICEF, and Women for Women. We also meet with project coordinator for the Baptist Denomination. They have amazing programs. Wow!!!!! They have been working to train their pastors to start men’s ministry and are able to train kids in their awesome network of schools. It was hard to hear them describe what often happens to a women who gets raped. She is often rejected by the family. Even if she is raped in front of the man he will ask, “Why did she allow that to happen? She should have asked them to kill her!” They have “sensitization” education that takes time to talk with that man, if he will allow it, to help him understand that it wasn’t her fault etc…Often those men won’t listen to the women staff so they have to send a Pastor. They did say those men who are so resistant are often the ones that are involved in violence already. We also learned more about those babies who are born out of rape. How difficult it is from the man to accept that baby and for the mother to for that matter. Much sensitization and education is being done in that area.

Tonight I shared at the prayer meeting for women recovering from rape or preparing for the fistula surgery at Heal Africa. Again, What a joy. I wish you were there dancing with us. God bless them. Afterwards three of the girls shared their story with us and a gal from the UN program fighting sexual violence in Goma. Those brave ladies will be sharing in front of a UN committee. Their stories were the usual unimaginable stories. What a precious group of people to share with.

Tomorrow is a busy day starting at 630am meeting with Camille’s mentees (sp?) Some of them will be carriers of this vision and we will use them as a pilot group to begin mirroring what Camille is doing. We also will be meeting with the General in town. I am so excited for our 1pm meeting. We will have about 20 people here for lunch. They are people that are very connected to what is going on at the ground level with the people.

Well, on the way home tonight the car started having problems and then when we got home the bathroom overflowed and filled the hallway.

Blessings from the Team. Aim

Monday, May 11, 2009

my cup overflows

Our God is so great- just to read about the men all surrounding Kasareka and using the bullhorn to be heard over the rain (the devil was defeated), and about meeting with the Lucys and i can just picture you all there. And Aimee did you speak at the conference- did you share the vision? Oh I just can't wait to see the photos- none of us can. We must have a gathering after you all have recouped in order to view your pictures and have you tell all of us about it so you don't have to repeat the faulous stories 35 times.

Does anyone have a place large enough for say 20 of us to get together and we can have Michael and Kasarekas' wives come and everyone can share so this vision's net can be cast out even further?

And I can't wait to see you all dancing (from Sunday's church service with Mukombozi)- what a hoot.

Our best love to Esther and Camile who have spent their hearts and time to set this up and to Light of Africa Network who supports them in doing these projects, and helped make this trip possible. God will reward them with many crowns.

so I love you all and pray for you minute by minute and just know that God has his hands all over SOC and over you and this trip. Come home safe and Kasareka please be blessed in Beni And Buna- enjoy going to Uganda too- Evie says to say hi to her friends and family there.

God bless you all for your courage, your love of man, and most of all your love of God.
I am in awe of you all. love Kathi
I am so excited to have the internet working finally. I have posted the last 2 postings if you want to catch up on what we have been doing.

Today was the Pastor's Conference and I can tell you once again how joy filled we all feel about it. There were over 100 Pastors there. Camille, Kasareka, and Michael preached on Nehemiah, on facing Opposition, and on Mobilizing your Congregation. We shared the Vision to raise up the Sons of Congo and have breakout sessions and brainstorming on how we can successfully do that. I must share that while Pastor Kasareka started passionately sharing it began to rain. Most of the roofs here are tin, and the windows have no glass, the rain got louder and louder, and Kasareka, God bless him had to yell louder and louder, we immediately brought all the men close to him in a tight circle and continued but the rain got louder and louder....Michael and Patrick ran home and got a megaphone and that is how we continued through the storm. It was amazing. All the sharing etc happeneed shouting through a megaphone. This mean afterwards told us how touched they were. How much they needed this training. Many of them did not know the story of Nehemiah. Many of them were encouraged to begin thinking dreaming of how to reach men in their churches. These pastors have so few resources and training opportunities if at all. God bless them each one. Tonight we had a lively dinner with The Lucy's founder of HealAfrica. So good to visit with them and hear their thoughts. God bless them too. Well Camille turned of the generator and now our lights are dim again. It is time to sleep. Next week 10 am we meet with Mucombozie's ministry team to share more. Pastor Kasareka is singing "Yes Jesus Loves me, Yes Jesus Loves me." I've noticed he sings when he is happy. and He sees the Lord is working. We all do. Jesus Loves us.

Good Night.

The internet has been down for 2 days now and the electricity is low so the lights are very dim. We are about to start preparing for the Pastor’s Conference tomorrow. Today, Sunday, was very full and very joy filled. We actually went to three church services. Yes you heard right. At first I thought three services would be overwhelming but to be honest, it was very joy filled. We started at 7am at the Heal Africa Church. Heal Africa is where the women and children who have been raped/tortured, go to get surgery and recover. What a joy!!! I am sure you wouldn’t imagine joyful dancing, singing, and praise in a church full of women recovering from rape. But that is the way it was. I wish you could have been there. Pastor Kasareka gave a good message there in Swahili. We then headed over very very very very rocky roads into the absolute center. What a joy! We were invited their by Brother Joseph and his military ministry holds church every sunday at this camp. He got to meet his ministry team afterwards and will see them all again on Tuesday as well. At this church we got down!!! They had at least 3 serious drummers, many of us had our own shakers, and we did some serious dancing. I Wish you could have been there with us. Then we headed to the last service, we all had to go to the bathroom, had to drive over another set of incredibly outrageously bumpy roads to a 90 minute service. Let it be known that Pastor Michael can preach and hold it at the same time. Hahahahahaha. Sorry. I digress. This church had already been going for 4 hours. Yes. A 5 hour service. Then we had lunch with some people in government. It was a great time of sharing and talking about the issues. Government officials really are overwhelmed. One thing that was said was, “Please help us go deep!” These are men that face a lot of challenges. We will be praying for them. One of the Ministers shared a story that occurred last October when Nkunda/the rebels were about to take over Goma. Esther was stuck in Bukavu without her Passport and Camille had evacuated. He said, “We tried every human and military strategy. We said instead of thinking about human strategy, we assumed our proper position and prayed. The Governor told everyone to go into their homes and pray. 2 hours later Nkunda just went away. We have heard from those in Kinshasa that are ministering to leaders in government have become more open to joining small groups for prayer and bible study, because of that event.

Well Tomorrow’s the conference so I’d better get some sleep.
Hopefully our internet will be working so I can actually post this.

Aim for the team.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Pastor's conference starts

Just a quick note from Aimée to say that the internet has been down for three days and they are starting the pastor's conference. She adds that they are all doing great. Please pray especially for this conference and for Pastor Kasereka, Pastor Michael and Camille as they teach. Thanks,
-Steve Wolford

Saturday, May 9, 2009

It is Saturday, almost lunch time. It is a cool day again.
I've just had a cold spRite out of the bottle...sodas seem to taste better in Africa. Don't know what it is.

Last night we had a very good meeting with someone who is one of thetrue heroes. He is one of them. His vocation is as a nurse, but he works closely with the militia and military, in their camps, during times of conflict, to help the sick, and teach human rights.

We also met with another local hero. He works with the Nehemiah Program that has organized community groups all over, comprised of local leaders. They have over 800 across the country working to make the programs of Heal Africa become a reality. Another hero of Congo is Pastor Bita. He ministers to those in prisons. And let me tell you prison in Congo is not pretty. We wanted to talk to him about violence and men and he impressed on us that because there are now trainings or programs for men in prisons, when they leave they become worse.

Lastly we met with Brother Joseph. He is A young lawyer who God has given a passion to work for the military. We will tell you about him later!!!!

Congo Bongo. Aim for SOC