Stories

In Their Own Words

Unexpected opportunities

I saw 100,000 people baptized in the Congo—and it changed my life! Let me tell you the story…

For 20 years, missionaries had been working in the Kasai region, an isolated area in the heart of the Congo, establishing a small mission station at Lulengele. Their years of toil and hardship had yielded a small Adventist church, a school, a medical dispensary, and 300 converts.

Despite this small success, the missionaries were not content. The work was exploding in neighboring countries like Malawi, Zambia and Kenya—so why not in the Congo? Why not in the heart of this vast country in the heart of Africa?

So the small band of missionaries began to pray, asking God to bless them exceedingly abundantly above all that they asked. They were doing all they could do—stretched to the max—so if something was going to change, God would have to intervene in some way.

Meanwhile, one day, the president of the Congo was driving with his entourage from the capital city of Kinshasa to the coastal area of Matadi. As they drove through the lowland hills, he began to notice something he hadn’t noticed before even though he’d made this trip many times.

There seemed to be churches everywhere, lots of them, and all had different names—the Church of the Prophet Simon, the Church of the Prophet Pierre, and the list went on. President Mobutu Sese Seko was not pleased. He asked, “What is this? Who are these people, and where did all these churches come from?”

After some research, it was discovered that there were more than 1,000 different churches like this in the country. So a law was passed requiring that all these churches register with the Ministry of the Interior, and that for a church to be legally recognized in the Congo, the leader must have two qualifications:
1. He must have a college degree.
2. He must have at least $1,000 in the bank, in the church’s name.
If a church did not meet these requirements, then it would have to register under one of the 33 recognized churches in the Congo. The Adventist Church was already recognized and was exempt from this process.

Soon, the office of the Ministry of the Interior was flooded with the “prophets” and leaders of these churches who were arriving to register their congregations. As it turned out, most of the 1,000 churches did not meet the necessary requirements.

So what were they to do next? As these leaders realized their dilemma, they approached the Ministry of the Interior’s secretary and asked him what they should do.

He responded, “Back there on the table are the documents of the recognized churches. Read through them and decide which one you agree with. Then choose the one you like.”

So the leaders would read and read and read, then they would usually exclaim in frustration, “This is too confusing! Which one should we join?”

Now, let me pause here for a moment and tell you something about the Ministry of the Interior’s secretary. This young man was from the neighboring country of Rwanda, and the son of an Adventist pastor. Years before he had left his beautiful mountain home and traveled for many days down the Congo River to the steamy city of Kinshasa to pursue his studies there. After finishing his education, he got a job in the government and slowly drifted away from God, eventually leaving the Adventist Church. By-and-by, he became the secretary to the Ministry of the Interior of the Congo.

“A far greater work will be done than has yet been done, and none of the glory of it will flow to men; for angels that minister to those who shall be heirs of salvation are working night and day.” Last Day Events, p. 206

It’s interesting how God arranges things, because He can see the end from the beginning, and like with Joseph in Egypt, He places key people in our path who He knows will benefit His work.

This is exactly what happened in the Congo. When the leaders of these different churches asked in confusion, “Which church should we join?” the young man would reply, “Well, it depends. What do you believe?”

The reply was almost always the same, “We believe in everything that the Bible teaches!”

And the Ministry of the Interior’s secretary—this former Adventist pastor’s son—would reply, “Well, in that case, if you are going to follow everything that is in the Bible, then you will have to become a Seventh-day Adventist!”

Just like that, almost overnight, whole churches began coming to the Lulengele Mission asking to become Seventh-day Adventists, eager to know the church that believed in the whole Bible. Our church went from 300 members in 20 years to 100,000 new converts in a short time! What our missionaries could not have accomplished on their own, God did for them!

This experience changed my life, because I was one of those missionaries. I spent my first years in the mission field in the Congo—clearing these new converts for baptism. My task consisted of traveling through the Kasai region, teaching and baptizing entire churches. It was an amazing experience. On one occasion, I walked through the Ituri Forest for 17 days, drinking the local water and partaking of the local fare with no ill health effects—that was a miracle in itself!

When I say this experience changed my life, it’s because it shaped my ministry. Every time I’m confronted with a new evangelistic challenge here at Adventist World Radio—whether it’s in Africa, India, Asia, Europe, or even in a country closed to the gospel—I can’t wait to see what God will do, because I know this is not our work, but His.

Right now, we are experiencing another miracle in the Congo. We have just been granted an amazing opportunity to purchase seven AWR radio licenses for the major cities in the Congo, including Kinshasa—the largest French-speaking city in the world. This is unheard of, but God is opening an unexpected door of opportunity. It will allow us to reach the entire country with the good news that Jesus is coming soon!

Sometimes we may be tempted to doubt our mission, our ability to finish the work, or God’s plan for our lives, but He always has a plan—and it’s one far beyond what we can imagine or accomplish on our own.

Very soon, the earth will be lighted with the knowledge of truth (Revelation 18:1) and the preaching of the gospel will be finished. It may seem like an impossible task, and it is—but only if we think we’re working alone. Because “He who began a good work in you (and me) will carry it on to completion until the day of Jesus Christ.” (Philippians 1:6)

Yours in the Blessed Hope,

 

Duane McKey
President

“A far greater work will be done than has yet been done, and none of the glory of it will flow to men; for angels that minister to those who shall be heirs of salvation are working night and day.” Last Day Events, p. 206

Mother and child listening to radio in front of simple home.

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