When Pat and Thelma Lewis of Wenatchee, WA, arrived in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, they were surprised and delighted to learn the only way to get to their village destination involved United Nations transport. It was one more remarkable experience to add to their four-month mission building adventure. Shoulder to shoulder with Pakistani peacekeeping soldiers, the Lewises arrived in Minembwe by helicopter to assist missionary friends for two weeks at the village’s primary school and fledgling University of Eben’ezer.
Nearly 300 students attend the two schools, many of them walking an hour or more one way for the privilege. Pat spoke to the students about MBI’s role as a Christian volunteer agency, and together, using a curriculum designed in part by the university’s teachers, he and Thelma taught English classes to “very bright” children in the primary school. Thelma also instructed college students in basics of dental hygiene and created diagrams for use in future classes. “Older village women,” she noted, “reveal a thin, black line of gum tissue when they smile—the result of brushing with coal.”
The Lewises also helped with local projects. “God really used these opportunities to give back to communities wherever we went,” they said. “People in the Congo have nothing. Their provision is whatever they can raise, and their dependence on God is much greater than we could even comprehend. As Americans, our norm far exceeds their wildest dreams. Congolese men talk about survival, not retirement. So Westerners coming to give of themselves and help was the biggest gift these villagers could imagine.”
Even the Pakistani soldiers responded to the Lewis’s good will volunteerism. “They took us in like their own,” Pat says. “We worked hard right alongside them and they alongside us to help in Minembwe.”
While their time was short due to transport schedules, Pat and Thelma know they contributed in significant ways to transformation in the Congo.
All over the world, there are possibilities for helping to change lives just as the Lewises have done—one act of service at a time.
Visit us at www.missionbuilders.org and find your unique opportunity.