A letter from Ruth Brown in Congo
“Seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness” (Mathew 6:33).
Muoyo webe! (Life to you!)
One unique aspect of our Presbyterian ways is evident in Congo: In the work of the Church of Congo there are very, very many meetings! However, during my work with church groups in Congo I learned that these meetings begin differently from most of our church meetings in the States. In the States we usually introduce everyone who is present, then we review the agenda, one usually beginning with prayer, Bible reading, and Bible study. Whereas in meetings of the Church of Congo, whether only two people are meeting or whether many are meeting together, after the people are seated and before any introduction or any review of the agenda, there is first a prayer.
I stand corrected by this powerful message of faith from my Congolese Christian family! They have remembered and placed first the seeking of the Kingdom and the seeking of the Holy Spirit’s presence whenever two or more are gathered together in Christ’s name.
This year in Congo our three-day trainings to promote justice for women began with prayer, scripture reading and exposition by an ordained, female pastor of the Church of Congo. Among those listening to this pastor were tribal chiefs and town administration officials. I was happy for the attentive response of everyone in the room to the female leader. Through prayer and the reading of the Word all were one. The words of Galatians came to mind: “There is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for … all are one in Christ Jesus” (Gal. 3:28).
During my six months of Interpretation Assignment, meeting many church members I’ve never before visited, it can be easy to become a bit anxious before a presentation, but if I can hold in my memory the example of the leaders of the Church of Congo and seek the presence of God first, then peace may settle upon us all and all will be united in the Eternal. The spirit of oneness brings peace.
October begins with one of my all-time favorite Sundays, World Wide Communion Sunday. I have heard this beautiful celebration of faith described as a “wave” as at a ball game, a wave of joy starting in one continent and spreading across the whole earth! What a joy to be one in the Spirit!
The seeking of the Eternal, first, in all our gatherings will make us one in this world, which needs so much peace and healing. And as one, together in Christ, there is peace and healing.
Please contact me if you have questions about how to become a part of this partnership. There are many ways to support the critical global initiatives of Presbyterian World Mission: evangelism, alleviation of poverty, and reconciliation.
Thank you all for all your support to me and to the Congolese people, support you have given through your prayers and your gifts during my first term in Congo. I’ve enjoyed meeting many of you in my travels in the States these past months. When I return to Congo in March of 2014 we will still be together in the Spirit, creating together that joyful wave of faith around this world!
The 2013 Presbyterian Mission Yearbook for Prayer & Study, p. 110
The 2014 Presbyterian Mission Yearbook for Prayer & Study, p. 138
Read more about Ruth Brown's ministry