Ladies, Let’s Build!

A letter from Kristi Rice serving in the Democratic Republic of the Congo

September 2015

Write to Bob Rice
Write to Kristi Rice

Individuals:  Give online to E200429 for Bob and Kristi Rice’s sending and support

Congregations: Give to D507528 for Bob and Kristi Rice’s sending and support

Churches are asked to send donations through your congregation’s normal receiving site (this is usually your presbytery).

I explained how they would calculate interest, and how the loans could be requested and disbursed. Then I watched as four women raised their hands to request their first loan from their savings group. This association of 24 women had collected about $100 in savings in just four weeks, and this day they gave out about $53 in loans to four of their members. Loans are in big demand here as the poor struggle to pay expenses and keep the capital in their small businesses. We have often heard the request for “microfinance” because people want loans. But on this day the savings group proved to themselves that they could save the little funds that they have together, and then use their collective capital to give helpful loans to their members. It was a milestone! Appropriately, this group has named themselves “Bamamu, Tuibakayi!” (Ladies, let’s build!)

This week my colleague Victorine and I are training the second savings group in Lukonga, a region just outside of Kananga. We have realized what a cultural shift it is for members to discipline themselves to show up on time so that the meeting can be kept short. We also are realizing what a significant challenge it is for people in Congo to trust each other in a group like this, and to faithfully save each week. The first group seemed to catch on quickly, so we are hoping the second will also. One of our hopes was to integrate CPC church members with members from the community. We have been able to do that in the first two groups, and we hope it can be a way for the church to serve and witness to the broader community, and also to encourage unity among Christians of different denominations. Please pray for the women who are now members of a savings group, that God would protect them and give them wisdom in this new venture.

We are excited about the training that Bob and our colleagues received this year about healing the wounds of ethnic conflict, which we described in our last newsletter. In August we conducted the first workshop in Kasai on that topic, and we were amazed to see how hungry people were for these truths of God’s mercy and healing. God worked in people’s hearts in significant ways. One woman shared that she has had back pain for many years, but during the seminar (while sitting for hours on a backless bench), she found inner healing in Christ—and realized that her back pain had disappeared. Please pray for lasting fruit for those who attended, and for wisdom and open doors about future seminars. We hope to facilitate a second similar seminar in the region of Mweka—north of Kanang—in November. We created a presentation that describes the principles of the teaching and some testimonies—if you would like to learn more or share this with your church, please contact us.

We continue to subsidize Bibles and songbooks. When we were traveling in August in East Kasai the 30 Bibles that we had available were bought in just one day. I was encouraged that several youth in rural areas were able to buy a Bible for the first time in their lives. Thus far in 2015, 680 Bibles have been sold at a subsidized price and 500 songbooks. People from all corners of Congo frequently call us and our colleagues asking when we will have Bibles again. Thanks to your participation in this ministry through financial gifts, we anticipate that more will be available to sell within the next few months.

This is a critical time for the Ditekemena program for street kids. The founding principle of this program is that children belong in a family, not on the street. The kids who joined last year when the program started have grown dramatically in the last year—physically, mentally, and spiritually. Now several are being transitioned back to relatives or their families of origin. This will take monitoring and counseling for the families and the kids, since several were mistreated or accused of witchcraft by their families as a means of blaming the family problems on them. There are 13 kids who do not have family locally who will remain at the center—please pray for host families to be found who can welcome them.

One final update is about the pastoral institutes that our department supports. This year God opened a door for CPC to connect with Langham Partners, who provided several theology books in French to each of the three rural pastoral institutes in Kasai. The joy on students’ faces was incredible—their libraries are nearly nonexistent, so this is a huge boost of significant resources for professors and students alike. A new building was completed in June for the Mutoto institute, which includes classrooms and also a workshop for the vocational skills training program through which students can learn sewing or carpentry.

We anticipate being in the U.S. next year, travelling around visiting churches and friends from July to December. If you would like us to visit your church, please contact us to let us know at bob.rice@pcusa.org. This is a test of who is actually reading our newsletter! We have not started scheduling yet, but having a list of those churches that would like us to come will help us to make our travel efficient when we start creating a schedule early in 2016. We are grateful to each of you who prays, gives, or encourages us, all of which sustains us and enables us to serve with the church in Congo. We love to hear from you, and we look forward to reconnecting in person in 2016!

The first savings group near Kananga in their weekly meeting (photo by Ruth Brown)

The first savings group near Kananga in their weekly meeting (photo by Ruth Brown)

The leaders of the savings group discuss an issue. Their savings is kept in the metal box on the ground. (photo by Ruth Brown)

The leaders of the savings group discuss an issue. Their savings is kept in the metal box on the ground. (photo by Ruth Brown)

Participants wrote down their wounds, then nailed them to the cross as an act of surrender

Participants wrote down their wounds, then nailed them to the cross as an act of surrender

Just after purchasing his first Bible, Peter Kanku carefully writes his name in it.

Just after purchasing his first Bible, Peter Kanku carefully writes his name in it.

Kids at the Ditekemena program proudly looking at their report cards.

Kids at the Ditekemena program proudly looking at their report cards.

Serving our Lord with you,
Kristi and Bob

The 2015 Presbyterian Mission Yearbook for Prayer & Study, p. 146, 147
Read more about Bob and Kristi Rice’s ministry
Blog: Embracing Hope


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