Losing God’s Money

money

Losing money always feels bad to me. So you might think losing God’s money would feel worse. Here’s what happened.

Back before Future Hope Africa had a bank account in the US or one in DR Congo that we could transfer money to, the only option we had was Western Union. I would go to the grocery store in Maryland straight to the Customer Service desk as my kids wandered frozen foods within sight. I filled out paperwork, produced ID, signed a register, double checked spellings and sent funds. Normally a smooth process.

One time, though, way back in 2012 I was traveling with my family when it was time to send money to Bukavu. Instead of sending money from the usual grocery store I sent money from my parents’ hometown grocery in Kentucky. Only one person was trained for this task, and that store didn’t have as much paperwork. No big deal, I thought–till the money went missing.

Back in Maryland I got the news from our education center in Bukavu. The money wasn’t on the system in DRC (Democratic Republic of Congo). After lots of hold time on several phone calls I was told I would have to take it up with the office of origin. After many months we were finally back in Kentucky, and the only thing to be done locally was to check the confirmation number. They did and said I’d have to speak with Western Union directly. I tried that again but got no where.

Was God’s money lost? Would the students in Congo never benefit from these funds gone astray?

This was God’s money, not mine. I focused on that and wasn’t as upset after a little while. It’s not like God didn’t know what happened. He knew exactly where that $1000 was. I did my part; gave back to him with open hands. Also, I did what I could to rectify the problem, and then I was forced to leave the rest to him. God was in control then just as he is now.

Fast forward to 2015.We had moved away from Maryland to Holland. After our USPS forwarding order expired, I received a letter. A class action suit was under way against Western Union. It seems lots of people had lost money on transfers about the same time I did. Login online to participate if you wanted to join the suit. I signed up and waited…and waited.

After a while, I figured the settlement wasn’t coming. Or they took out lawyers’ fees and nothing was left. Either way, it was still God’s grand.

In January, the board of Future Hope Africa had our first meeting of 2017. It was time to discuss increasing the monthly amount we send to Bukavu. We’d been sending what we could to pay our staff at the education center. It was a modest amount, but we were beginning to lose good teachers because they couldn’t quite support their families on the amount we were sending. After much prayer (and researching fair wages in Congo) we decided to step out on faith and raise the staff pay. Knowing we needed more monthly donors to sustain the salaries, we got to work on that. But by the end of February we looked at the budget and could see future deficits. We still can, but in the meantime we are praying. We are directly soliciting in places where we are legally allowed to do so. We remind ourselves that the education project is God’s project. From beginning to end, He is our provider. From board to Bintu, from 501(c)(3) status to setting up bank accounts, everything moves or happens by God’s hand.

We do our part. Then we wait upon the Lord.

And sometimes He reminds us how sovereign He is by meeting our needs today with funds that went astray 5 years ago. The truth is we serve an awesome God. A couple of weeks ago I was sorting through the mail and noticed an envelope with a return address I did not recognize. When I opened it, do you know what was inside?  The $1000 plus the $65 transfer fee. Money that could not have come at a better time. God’s timing is best. God’s mysterious ways are unfathomable. God’s almighty authority is over every part of the world, including money transfers.

– Kristin

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Little by little…

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Bible Club in The Netherlands

A boy stood up and recited his weekly memory verse at the after-school Bible Club in The Netherlands. He got the whole thing right, even the chapter and verse. His reward was handed over, a twenty cent coin. Did he put it in his pocket? No. He put it in the mission jar for the children in Congo.

In this way, week by week, a handful of children raised 32 Euro for Future Hope Africa. We give a big shout out to them. THANK YOU KIDS.

Is there something you can do? Little by little?

From Student to Teacher

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Moses Cito Kajiramugabi

Moïse (Moses in English) is one of the teachers at our Future Hope Africa Education Center in Bukavu, DRC. He first came to the Center when he was in high school, for help with his studies and to participate in our Princes Club, now called the Young Leaders Club*.

He graduated from high school with very good grades and was offered an opportunity to go to Kinshasa (the capital city of DR Congo). After much thought and prayer he decided instead to stay in Bukavu and work with us at the Center. His passion is to help younger ones with their school work.

Moses is 20 years old and among the youngest of 11 children in his family. His father has recently become ill so staying in Bukavu has also meant he’s available to help care for him. His father and mother currently have no employment, so working at FHA came as a great blessing for him and his family. Moses joined our staff in September and is one of 4 teachers tutoring students during our Homework School.

Moses is a deep thinker and has written the following piece for our blog. Thank you, Moses!

 

Home in Bukavu for Christmas and New Year

 

“For Christians, Christmas does not mean only the day of his birth, but rather the remembrance of the birth of Jesus Christ in our hearts. Christmas is not only a day of celebration for children, but it is the day when we remember the love of God for humanity.”

When the pastor said this, I felt more comforted. Because, I had done research on the meaning of Christmas and what it should represent for the world.

Here are the results of my research: The word Christmas does not even exist in the Bible. Noël is Christmas in French; it is a Christian feast day instituted in 368 AD. It was established by the fathers of the church, they said. If we relate to the biblical calendar, Jesus Christ was not born on December 25th. This date was just a pagan feast day celebrated once a year, at night, in the midst of winter, at the peaks of the mountains to worship Saturn. They worshiped in the middle of four candles. During this pagan cult celebration there were four things:

– debts were forgiven and forgotten,

– captives were freed,

– slaves were emancipated,

– and the condemned to death were pardoned.

The celebration of Christmas on this day of the 25th of December, gathered around this feast the pagans and the Christians.

I found these results quite interesting …

In Bukavu, Christmas and New Year are two very important events. And this observation I have made since when I was still very young. Back then, we were even more interested because we were expecting new clothes and gifts from our parents. Unlike those in Europe, we were not told about Santa Claus. The idea of Santa Claus develops only in certain families, but it is not popular here.

One week before Christmas, almost all the shopping points of the city, and the markets are filled with new clothing and decorative articles (flowers, Christmas trees) and in this festive atmosphere, all the parents of the middle class strive to buy beautiful clothes and beautiful shoes their children  in order to see them in Sunday clothes. Those who are more fortunate organize holidays and take their children to foreign countries to spend the holidays. And the less fortunate are just satisfied to find a better meal than what they usually have.

On the festivals’ eve, the public places are beautifully adorned with flowers and with Christmas lights. An intense circulation of pedestrians and vehicles is noticeable until late at night. At the same time, in the outskirts of the city, some young people spend the night under the stars and take pleasure in “palavering” (chatting) around a fire that they often light with tires throughout the night.

Alas, for many people, generally unbelievers, it is an opportunity to wander here and there during the night, visit nightclubs and drink too much, and to commit various other disorders.

Unfortunately, after all these pleasures, wounds and sometimes death follow.

Christians, on the other hand, gather in their different assemblies to praise and worship the Eternal God for the passage from one year to another.

For the Congolese, the crossing toward year 2017 was especially valuable. We were seized with a certain fear because of the political riots that could have taken place on December 19, 2016. God in his mercy protected us and now we have arrived successfully in 2017. All the churches were invaded by songs of joy.

All those who live on Congo territory had a good reason to glorify our God for his protection this year. After Sunday worship, everyone went to spend the rest of his party with his family gathered around a table filled with everything the family would be able to afford for the celebration.

In my family, my grandparents, my brothers-in-law, my parents, my brothers and sisters, my cousins and nieces, my uncles and aunts, all in fraternity, we shared the same meal. We talked about our personal experiences last year. And at the end of the ceremony, we wished each other the best wishes and shared the gifts.

The Christmas celebration is not an opportunity to wallow in sins. One is not obliged to put oneself in situations of distress to celebrate a great feast at all costs and beyond possibilities.

Thus, God’s children should avoid getting into debt to have a celebration above their financial level.

Indeed, for us Christians, it is Christmas every day because we have to remember the great deeds of God every day as if Christ is born in our hearts.

Moses Cito Kajiramugabi

*Our Young Leaders Club is a club for young men to meet and discuss the way young men should behave, how to be useful to their families and community, and to discuss  entrepreneurial projects. We have a similar club for young ladies called the Princess Club. Our club teachings are based on Biblical principles.

Future Hope Africa – VBS 2016 Report

It has become a custom for us at FHA to have a summer camp; a Vacation Bible School (VBS) for youth and for children. What a wonderful time we spend with the young helpers recruited for this purpose, and with these children! It is our rendezvous of the year! A great opportunity to see all of them again! Every year we have new ones coming, but this year it was even more special because we were able to have 3 times as many children as last year and the years before, as well as twenty more teachers. A good number of new ones! A lot of excitement!

This year our camp theme was « A l’école du jeune leader congolais. » or At the Young Congolese Leaders’ School, in English. 10 days of blast and great blessing! Each day we discussed one character of a good leader and then at the ten’s day we went to visit the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture in Kalambo, a few miles outside Bukavu. For 1O days our children learned so much!

It was a first for the staff to train and lead such a big group of youth and children.

Our ten day program was explained and taught in « the 10 commandments of a good leader ». That’s how we decided to divide the ten lessons for the 10 days. We discussed ten characters of a good leader, the only ten that we chose to cover for this year. We formulated them as 10 oaths of allegiance, and it turned out to be a great idea. We linked each commandment with a Bible verse.

                  Oaths                                      Bible Verses

  1. I will be humble                             1. Proverbs 22:4
  2. I will be courageous                      2. Joshua 1:6
  3. I will be honest                               3. 1 Kings 1:52
  4. I will be proactive                          4. Proverbs 6: 10-11
  5. I will be organized                         5. 1 Cor. 14:40
  6. I will think positively                    6. Mark 11:23
  7. I will listen                                      7. Proverbs 1:5
  8. I will work in a team                     8. Ecclesiastes 4:9
  9. I will be a servant                          9. Matthew 23: 11-12
  10. I will protect my environment   10. Numbers 35:34

Some of the children captured our attention in a special way!

Charlotte Byenda:

Our little Charlotte was distinguished for her sense of cleanness. She has observed the charlotteinstruction given by the teachers at the first day of the camp on taking care of our environment. Charlotte, 8 years old was a role model. She did not pass a piece of paper on the playground.

All the trash that this beautiful girl found in her way, she bended and picked it to throw it in the garbage. A courageous girl who worked hard to memorize the Bible verses and all the 10 commandments as well; Charlotte’s behavior touched all the teachers and in one accord we decided she should get a prize. SO she did!


Deborah Munoka

This is another young lady; 12 years old, who came with very negative thoughts about life and everything else.

deborahWhen we discussed about honesty on the third day, she said: “I want to be a lawyer when I grow up, and I believe that no one can be a lawyer and stay honest. It’s impossible! “

From her point of view all lawyers are dishonest and corrupt and she would not even try to do another way.

But after the day we discussed about honesty as a good leader’s charactor, she went in the front and announced to all the other children and the teachers that she will still be a lawyer but she promises that she would do her best to fight and make a difference. “I promise that I will still be a lawyer but I will never lie or be dishonest in my job! “

At first, she so much persisted in her negative opinion that when we heard her change her mind and see her willing to declare it for all of her friends to hear, it made us proud of her. Because this young lady is a very strong-willed person, we believe that she might really grow up to make a difference.


Nicaise Mirali

Three other children were exceptional in their work. Nicaise Mirali, King Kabesha and Amani Ndagundi. These three children discussed the first commandment about Humility in a very impressive way.

The teachers discussed the housework. Many people in our culture believe that housework is only for girls and not for boys. And guys can sit down, wait to be served and eat, watch tv, play outside, …

Nicaise, in the picture to the right with a colorful shirt, was one of the children who, at his so young age, thought and strongly supported that boys are not to work and only girls should do the housework.

King Kabesha

King, the boy in the picture in the left, at 11 years old, was able to tell all children of his group that boys as well as girls can and should do any housework.

Amini Ndagundi, 10 years old, quoted all the Bible verses we

Amani Ndagundi

Amani Ndagundi

learned without hesitating from the first to the last day. This boy had some problems at our center in the past. He misbehaved in a way that raised our attention in a very negative way.

Our regulations being strict, we had to suspend his coming to the center for the rest of the year. He came back for VBS this year and conquered the heart of the teachers and was able to reintegrate into the homework class.


Cynthia Mulumeoderwa

Cynthia Mulumeoderwa

Cynthia Mulumeoderwa is a girl who has been raised by her mother alone. Apparently, her father abandonned them. At the beginning of the camp, the girl did not want anything to do with the male friends. Even the teachers. When we tried to understand the situation we were able to get the fact that she detested all males because of the absence of her father.

But a few days later, the girl was already jumping and playing with everyone with no discrimination!


The group of teenagers, 13 to 15 years old, have always been the most difficult to manage. They believe that they do not need to be instructed and that they are no longer children to be taken care of. These are the children to whom this program was meant for. A lot of work! Young teenagers are the ones who need the most to be taught these things.

teenagers

Matthew 23: 11-12, our overall verse, helped us remember that the one who wants to be great should serve all the others. We noticed some positive change in these children by the end of the program. They were able to actively commit for change.

10 days of work together. 10 days of work on our future leaders. Many of us did not know each other before this and then we started becoming a family.

group1

On the tenth day we went on a field trip where we learned about this organization that works to improve the seeds for tropical food in order to make food more nutritional for the community. A good leader has to take care of his environment. He has to take care of the land he is living on and of its cleanness, as well as the wellness of the community among which he is living.

group2

This program is life changing for the children, but even more for the recruited young teachers who all testified of having learned very much.

group3

Our VBS program always ends with a presentation of what the children have learned to their parents. This year again, the parents were so happy to see how their children were served!


Another way for you to make a difference…

Our in country director, Bintu, is always on the lookout for ways to improve the education of children, youth and adults in Bukavu, DR Congo. When she visited our home in Holland last year, we took her on a tour of the first-class international school our sons attend. Most of the decor in the school is student art blown up on huge canvases or framed originals. An idea was born.

An American artist friend here heard about our education center and asked, “What about art supplies? Could you use those?”

“Yes!” A generous gift of two stacks of stretched canvases went into my suitcase my next Congo visit, and now you can see some of the results. Small but delightful, these pieces are featured at our center to tell the world how proud we are of our students, the team that supports them, and how a little goes a long way.

Here are some of the pieces:

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Do you have an interest you would like to share with our students in Bukavu?  February is the next mission trip, and my suitcases are standing ready to receive your post. We find ways to use most everything.

Even better, come with us on this or a future trip to share your talents directly with your choice of students, children, youth or adults.

Contact me through our website (futurehopeafrica.org) to help.

Kristin

 

1 Peter 4:10  As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace.

 

 

How Your VBS Differs from Congo VBS – Part 5: Field Trip Time

Your Vacation Bible School probably doesn’t take the children on a field trip, but your local schools probably do. If you’re from a small town like I am, the field trips may not be every year. Instead, class trips are organized for certain groups such as the very memorable 8thgrade trip to Washington D.C.

Imagine a place where few parents own cars, where family vacations aren’t an option for most, where most of the children never go beyond the walking area of their neighborhood, where green grass is rare.

Our Vacation Bible School in the Congo is not a church organized outreach, rather it is a summer extension of the education and family support we provide all year long at our Future Hope Africa education center.

Where most east DR Congo schools don’t have a library, we provide a library. Where there are no tutoring programs, we provide adult tutors and mentors. Where schools lack resources for music, crafts, or art, we provide what we can within our budget.

No School Field Trips? Our Operations Director, Bintu says,

We always try to choose a theme that teaches something useful for the community. The field trip comes at the end as a day when we show practically what the theoretically discussed theme means. It is also a treat for most of our children who probably never take a trip to go on vacation or any place else. We offer them a day out.

The Congo VBS field trip not only demonstrates the theme, it opens the children’s eyes to the world beyond their neighborhood. One past field trip took the children to the local airport where they touched planes and heard about the jobs available and what education it takes to work there.

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Past field trip to a local airport.

Children in desperate situations desperately need hope for the future. A field trip beyond the borders of what they know can give them a vision, a goal, a new idea of the possibilities that are very much within their reach.

Isn’t that something you’d like to be a part of? If so, please “Share” Congo VBS on your social media sites and with your brothers and sisters in Christ.

We are so grateful for your thoughts and prayers. We’re coming to the close of our Congo VBS Crowdfunding campaign and you’ve made it a success. With your support, we have reached our goal. The children will have the supplies and snacks they need, our helpers will have all their bus fare to and from our rented facilities covered.

The helpers had their first training session, and each person knows you are thinking of them, praying and wishing them all the best. They go with God, confident in how He provided through you this year. I cannot say thank you enough.

We’d love to keep in touch with you and share the latest news from Bukavu. Click here to Keep in Touch with Future Hope Africa.

Thank you again for your prayers and support,

Kristin

Previously:

Congo VBS – Training our Workers

Congo VBS Workers trainingThis week we gathered all the workers and helpers who will be assisting us next week for VBS and gave a two day training to make sure they’re all prepared for the big event.

We went over all the lessons and verses and activities and explained the schedule to them. We are pleased to have young people who are so enthusiastic about our VBS program.

– Please pray for all our workers and helpers as they prepare their minds and hearts for next week.

– Pray for the workers to have an abundance of energy since, as you know, teaching a class for VBS takes a lot of stamina.

– Pray for the children and their families that the daily lessons will touch their hearts and lives and create the kind of change only He can bring about.

Congo VBS training 2