“The Democratic Republic of the Congo is one of the most difficult places I have ever traveled to,” says AWR president Dowell Chow. Years of civil war have left the people struggling to survive, amid ongoing instability and virtually no infrastructure as we know it. But it is often the most challenging places that result in the greatest examples of faith and dedication, which brings us to the story of Kambale Mathe.
This is a man whose life could have been much more comfortable than it is now. Mathe had studied at the Adventist University of Lukanga, in the North Kivu region of the DRC. Chow describes the campus, which is situated high on a mountainside, as “beautiful but primitive – there was no electricity at that time.”
Mathe obtained his master’s degree, and was able to get a teaching job. He seemed to have a relatively secure future to look forward to.
But one day, he heard there was an opening for a Bible worker with Rafiki Mission (a ministry sponsored by the Northern Asia-Pacific Division). Mathe felt impressed to leave his job and concentrate on evangelistic outreach in the community, receiving only a small stipend with which to support his family.
He was assigned to work with two churches and one branch congregation. Unfortunately, one of the churches – Vutakohola in Beni City – was in poor condition. Construction had begun on a large church structure many years before, as the city’s population was growing. The work progressed as far as raising several walls of the building, but at that point the district was divided in half and members stopped supporting the work. Construction ground to a halt.
When Mathe arrived, there seemed to be no way to finish building the church. But he had an entrepreneurial spirit, so when he had the chance to get his hands on a machine used for grinding cassava, he saw an opportunity.
Cassava is a starchy root that is common in that part of the world and is used to make flour. Mathe got to work making and selling flour. He made some money and bought another machine. With those two machines, he made a bit more money and used it to buy some cement and timber. He appealed to the church members to give what offerings they could, and together they were able to put up a roof, with iron sheets donated by Rafiki Mission. Vutakohola is now a worship center that can hold hundreds of people.
Mathe duplicated this success in Ndindi village, where the new branch group was also without a church. There were very few church members and definitely no money, but Mathe started to make bricks by hand (despite the challenge of having a wooden leg). That led to another donation of roofing sheets from Rafiki Mission, and today the members have a place to worship every Sabbath.
“Kambale Mathe is a tremendous example of a sacrificial spirit and a passion for soul-winning,” Chow says. “To leave the comfort of a teaching position, to take one’s family to a struggling village to do missionary work, how many of us would do that?”
Mathe says, “This is what the Lord brought me to do, this is what I love to do.”
He was delighted to receive several of AWR’s special MegaVoice solar audio players from Chow. Using the programs stored on the players, Mathe will be able to bring the gospel to even more people in his corner of Africa.