Posts Tagged ‘hope’

HOPE

Hope.  What is the definition of hope?  How do the people of Bukavu keep their hopes alive?  And how do we, as sponsors, friends, and prayer partners, give enough of ourselves to keep that hope alive?  Read below to hear directly from Bintu on the issues that the people of Bukavu and our friends at the center are facing and living day-to-day.  Know that what you give with your prayers, time, and money does make a difference.  We, as sponsors, must continue to do our part to help keep that hope alive–Sara Johnson

 

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–Our future hope is here, in the faces of our children.

 

Hope when everything you see says,

“Don’t get your hopes up!”

 

Bukavu and the entire DRC have been going through a lot of turmoil and all kinds of calamities that have brought discouragement and have gotten our hopes down for decades.  For all  this time, it’s like we have always been waiting expectantly to hear worse news than what we already hear from our home city:  Nothing clear on the horizon.  Complete darkness.

How can you risk beginning anything new in a place where there is no competent infrastructure working?  There is nothing that encourages you to build or invest for the future here.  Nothing.  That is why young people are fleeing the country.  That is why many people are not even trying.  They stay in complete numbness and without vision.

The picture of our present Bukavu is of complete darkness.  From a bad economy to corruption, from anarchic building to bad roads.  (By the way, I had already returned to Bukavu when I saw tractors, one day, purposely destroying the road in front of our center—that was about 3 years ago.  Albert, our administrator, went to talk to the tractor driver and he said they were destroying to rebuild a new road. Two governors have come and gone since that happened.  And now the road is in even worse condition than before!  It was never rebuilt.)  Many taxis and other vehicles for public transportation do not come to our streets any more.  Cars suffer much damage on this side of Bukavu so drivers don’t come here anymore.

For many things I see, it just goes from bad to worse!

The population in Bukavu seems to increase every single day as if someone were making humans and multiplying them somewhere near.  Streets are crowded with so many people that you can no longer enjoy a quiet walk in the main streets of Bukavu anymore.  In the same way, houses are growing from everywhere.  We have no idea who is building them, and no regulations are being followed at all!  Nice property is being sold to people who have no idea of the proper way to build.  Most of the time, the buyers resell to tens of people, and a piece of land intended for one house ends up with ten buildings.

Thus, the problem to continuously distribute electricity and running water to all at the same time fails because the facilities were intended for a tenth of the current population.   And despite the taxes paid for electricity and water, some households are still paying monthly.  There is no option to upgrade the facilities and no one knows why.

At the same time, technology is growing so widely.  Canal + (a TV channel provider) is gaining new subscribers every day.  Some people do not have a house to shelter in but have a Dish on top of their “pretend” roof.  Families gather around a screen showing nice houses while sitting on the floor—but they don’t care—they are just trying to survive!

Almost every teenager has a smart phone with lots of virtual friends to chat with.  They spend their money on megabytes provided by phone companies, but most of them do not have food on their table more than once a day.  They have begun copying dressing styles and other behaviors that they see on shows and in the media.  But they still walk on the muddy roads!  And they cannot tell their parents to build their houses like the ones they see on tv shows.  It is like they can’t see ahead, to a better way, a better future!

To all of this, you add a few more things like trash in the streets (there is no garbage service), bad traffic orchestrated by crazy untrained drivers that have no idea of a traffic code.  Add unemployment and insecurity….and the list keeps going!

And yet, still in this same city, you meet people who are trying to emerge, to do well, to meet life’s goals, to pursue ambitions, to start businesses, to improve what they already have….and those who are seeking for any opportunity that comes their way.  These are the individuals we like to serve.

Pastor Emmanuel Lubala came up with a very interesting topic for the year 2018:  “HOPE” ( How can you paint such a dark picture and still talk about HOPE?)

It drew my attention, especially because of Future Hope Africa and our mission, and, also because of his preferred Bible verse during the two-week seminar:  Jeremiah 29:11.  His plans for our future are great, no matter what our present situation looks like.

In such a desolated place, where there is so much value crisis, the word, hope, is becoming so meaningless.  “Hopefully,” we say.  “Hope is alive,” we also say.  But how much of that do we believe?

When you have hope, you fight! You do not cowardly run away from the battlefield. When David went to fight against Goliath, when he saw Goliath running towards him, he also ran to meet/fight him.  1 Samuel 17:48

We should not run away from our fights. We should confront them.

 

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–Education, teaching our children for the hope of their future.

I took this information for me and for our non-profit, Future Hope Africa in Bukavu.  I and my colleagues from FHA cannot just leave the DRC and go to be fake refugees somewhere in a Western country.  We cannot just sell all that we have, including family and friends and our community’s chance at wellness, to go for a better life in Europe or in America.  We cannot just think of ourselves while a whole community is going through turmoil.  No, we can’t.  That would just be the most selfish way to live, thinking of our own comfort and not others.  Some may feel okay with that, but we just don’t.

I have to fight! Congolese people have to fight.  People from Bukavu have to fight.  We all have to fight!  Our enemy is not a person. No—No! Our enemy is a situation, a state of malaise, a culture of depression.  It is a number of things put together against our development, against our peace, against our security, against our happiness.

We cannot be afraid to take risks while we have the Almighty one on our side.
FHA will take risks to bring change!!

–Bintu

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–Planting, watering.  Looking to the future. 

Pray for FHA and Bintu  to continue, looking towards leadership that will lead them into a future for their city and their people with hope in their hearts and minds.  Let them not grow weary in the race that they are running, let them not grow weary in doing what is good and right for the people of Bukavu and Congo. Pray for them, pray for their leaders, pray for their country.–Sara Johnson

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Losing God’s Money

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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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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 – September 2014 News

A Letter From Bintu in Bukavu

Dear Friends, Brothers and SistersP1

We have had a wonderful dry season this year! Wonderful indeed! Not too much dust, because we had some more rain during the very dry month. Yesterday again we had some rain. We have been having running water most of the time. Electricity was an issue sometimes but really things have not been too bad this year. Also, God has given us a wonderful VBS week with the children at the end of July through the first week of August.

P2OUR 2014 VBS THEME

This year our friend and coworker Jean Michel suggested that we work on the theme “Excellence”. At first it sounded really confusing to us and we could hardly think of how to explain such a complex matter to the children. But as we continued thinking and searching on Internet we found elements that allowed us to construct the most popular of all VBS sessions we have ever had.

Our theme: “A la poursuite de l’excellence” or “Pursuing/seeking the best”.

OUR GOALSP3

First, our goal was to teach our 24 young teachers and helpers to seek for the best of best in everything they do. Help them integrate the idea in their mindset so that during the 5 days of VBS class they could try their best to teach and help the 60 children, the participants in VBS, about this.

TARGETED POPULATION AND STAGES

24 young adults were trained for two mornings, to help as teachers.

60 children aged 6 to 14 were trained for one week in the VBS program.

About 15 young adults from families that sent someone to take care of their child on the field trip were taught the lessons of that day as well.

About a total of 99 young souls were trained in how to do our best in all we do.

SPIRITUAL GOALS – to present ourselves in the best robes before Christ. P4

Key verses: Ephesians  4:24-29

24 …put on the new self, which in the likeness of God has been created in righteousness and holiness

of the truth. 25 Therefore, laying aside falsehood, speak truth each one of you with his neighbor, for we

are members of one another. 26 Be angry, and yet do not sin; do not let the sun go down on you anger,

27 and do not give the devil an opportunity. 28 He who steals must steal no longer; but rather he must

labor, performing with his own hands what is good, so that he will have something to share with one

who has need. 29 Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, but only such a word as is good

for edification according to the need of the moment, so that it will give grace to those who hear.

Our community in Bukavu is ruined by bad habits that have implanted and are becoming norms. Lies, corruption, robbery, prostitution…

Our goal in selecting this passage was to help learners decide to get rid of some of those things to present themselves better before Christ and their neighbor.

On the fifth day of the activities, we took a trip with our learners and went to a Nun Monastery called Murhesa. It is a very quiet place well kept where people go to escape from the busy city. We sat with the children on the grass and had a quiet moment of meditation on the Word of GOD and the best decisions were made of our lives.

P6PHYSICAL GOALS – to have a plan in everything we do and to seek to do and accomplish things in the best possible way in order to get the results for our own, for our family’s, for our boss’ satisfaction and for all the people who depend on us. Here we taught that one has to set different goals to live for and aim at in his/her life. We have to choose strategies and means to reach those goals. We may set financial goals, intellectual or learning goals, business goals, small projects goal and more.

Let us remember the 99 will bring the teachings back home and will impact at least 50 families that sent us their children for this year’s VBS.

Here are the activities we conducted with the children during that weekP7

Discussion class – In this class the children had a chance to discuss the Word of GOD with the teachers about how to work your character with GOD in order to build an excellent life in HIM and with those HE put around us in our family, school.

Music Class – In the music class our children learned the A, B, C of music; they sang a new song according to our theme. “We will work our best to be excellent in things we do…” Then they also learned how to play a few guitar and keyboard keys.

P8         P9

Craft and Creativity Class – In this class, children learned how to draw, color and build a paper house and a school.

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Acting/Drama Class – The children created and read poems as well as short plays always in the theme. They performed on that Sunday for their parents.

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Taking the bus to Murhesa – On the fifth day we took the children to Murhesa where we had a very pleasant quiet time with them. We meditated on our theme and on the P15life changing Word of GOD. We taught the children what it takes to please GOD and improve our relationship with him and with our neighbors every day.

P16Picnic Time – Most of the children have their picnic packed by their parents. However, our girls have to check and find those who have nothing. Another perfect occasion to teach the children about sharing.

Playtime –  On our way back to town we stopped 13 km from Bukavu and had a great playtime for the children. This is a unique place to be with all these very excited young ones, as this is a yearly occasion for most of them. Last year we stopped here as well.  They loved it!P17

Sincerely,  Bintu