I first met Simeon Muhunga at a pastors’ conference at which I was teaching in Bukavu, Democratic Republic of Congo, in 2004. At that time he was pastoring a church of 2,500 people in Goma, but at the conference, Simeon realized that he was pastoring a mixture of sheep and goats. He knew he needed to make some adjustments in his ministry.
As one of the few pastors who attended the conference who could speak and read English, Simeon received several copies of The Great Gospel Deception which I had brought with me. The simple biblical truths he read only affirmed what he learned at the conference. He returned to his church with determination to make disciples, and he and I began a long-distance relationship via email. He started sharing with other pastors what he had been learning, as well as distributing Swahili and French copies of The Disciple-Making Minister.
It wasn’t so easy for Simeon, especially at first. One-thousand people left his church, not wanting to hear the scriptures that he had been avoiding for years. But over time, Simeon’s decision paid off. He is now making disciples through planting and nurturing house churches. And his disciples are bearing fruit. Simeon’s sheep are sharing the gospel with others, and even though they are poor, they are opening their homes to orphans, taking care of widows and refugees, and reaching out to prisoners and drug users.
Today, Becky and I visited a few of the places where Simeon and his disciples are serving, starting at some tiny “homes” where seven Christian women live—all of whom have been displaced since rebels attacked their villages within the last two years. Some are sure that their husbands are dead, while others think their husbands are being held as slaves of the rebel army which the Congolese army is too weak to defeat. All are desperately poor, but they are among twenty-nine families who are being sustained because of the sincere love of Simeon’s sheep, who even pay the women’s children’s school fees. That love has won their hearts, and all of them are active in one of Simeon’s house churches. Here is their photo:
We sat and talked with them for a while about how Heaven’s Family could best serve them through our Christian Refugees Fund. Several had marketable skills that they were willing to teach to others, and so we arranged for all of them to receive one-year micro-loans once their business plans are approved by Simeon. Later, we discussed in more detail with Simeon how we will facilitate two micro-banks with him—one for widows and the other for refugees. The goal is to create economic empowerment, self-sufficiency, and ultimately godly stewardship.
Below are a few photos from today’s visits.
Tomorrow we start our long journey home, starting with a three-hour drive back through Rwanda, then flights to Nairobi, London, Washington D.C. and Pittsburgh. I’ve been out of the country thirty-four of the last forty-three days, so I’m ready for some time at home.
There will likely be little of significance to report on our route there, so I’ll sign off from this African blog for now. Thanks for joining Becky and me on our journey, and I hope you’ve been even more inspired to lay up your treasures in heaven.