The Work Continues

A letter from Bob and Kristi Rice in the U.S., on Interpretation Assignment from the Democratic Republic of the Congo

August 2016

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).

We are grateful that the projects we are involved with in Congo continue while we are in the U.S. this year, thanks to great leadership by our Congolese colleagues. Our goal has always been to support the work of the church in Congo and help them to realize their vision for the people of Congo. We want to share updates that we have received this year on just three of the projects that we care about.

We have written before about savings groups for women that started last year. By teaching women to save together, they are empowered to accomplish specific goals and support each other in the process. We now have six active groups in the Kananga area. The first group is nearing the end of its first cycle, when members repay all of their loans and then everyone’s savings are distributed to them, with interest. This is a critical time that requires discipline, good leadership, and good calculation skills, so please pray for Victorine, the supervisor, and the members of these groups. Recently a training was held to teach about 10 people how to create and train savings groups. Two of these people came from the region around Mbuji-Mayi, in the eastern part of Kasai. Our hope is that savings groups can be started in that region. Please pray for good leadership to be identified to supervise the groups in that region. The existence of the savings groups in Kananga has also led to the creation of three different centers for teaching literacy to women. We praise God for these opportunities for women to learn new skills and be empowered to care for their families and communities.

Aimé is 15 years old now, a beautiful teenaged girl eager to learn, to be loved, and to find her place in the world. She is one of the children found living on the streets of Kananga two years ago when the Ditekemena (Hope) program was started. Last year, while being cared for in the Ditekemena center, she learned to read for the first time and was thrilled to be back in school. One of the goals of Ditekemena is to reintegrate the children into families—either relatives or foster families. Pastor Manyayi, the director of Ditekemena, learned that Aimé’s mother was living in Tshikapa, about 150 miles from Kananga. Another caregiver, Leonard, accompanied Aimé to Tshikapa to see if her mother would be able and interested in reclaiming Aimé. Miraculously, the day after they arrived in the city of Tshikapa Aimé spotted her mother in the crowded marketplace. She was overjoyed to see Aimé again and amazed at how well she looked. Aimé’s parents are very poor, living in a tiny thatched-roof hut and barely getting enough food to eat. Ditekemena has continued to pay school fees for Aimé to ensure that she can stay in school, and a local pastor and his congregation help to provide follow-up and emotional support. But the transition for Aimé has not been easy, adjusting back to “normal” life in poverty-stricken Congo. Please pray for all of the kids in Ditekemena, and that loving families would be found at the right time.

Another program close to our hearts is the Healing the Wounds of Ethnic Conflict Workshops. Two workshops were held last year in Kasai, bringing together people from various tribes to learn from scripture how God loves the uniqueness of each person and culture, and how when we find healing and forgiveness in Christ for our own pain we are able to more fully appreciate and love people who are different from us. This year Pastor Mboyamba, our colleague and director of the Department of Evangelism, took this teaching to two of the rural pastoral institutes. Through skits, group discussions, and Bible-based teaching, the students learned important principles that will help them to diffuse tribal tension and promote unity in their future church ministry. Each time this workshop is conducted we have heard participants insist that it must be brought to their home region so that more people can be transformed. Please pray for this important ministry, and for more people to experience the healing and transforming power of the cross of Christ.

This year as we have visited churches we have felt encouraged and blessed to see how churches here in the U.S. are being a witness in their communities to the love of Christ. We were able to talk to some of the homeless people who come twice a week for a shower at a church in Garden Grove, Calif., we worshiped with recent immigrants at a church in Illinois, and we received encouragement and support from people who are recovering drug addicts and gang members in a worshiping community in Illinois. In addition to all that, we had the privilege of attending a few conferences where we heard good news of God at work and also hard news of suffering in other parts of the world. We realize that in Congo we can get consumed with just seeing the environment around us; hearing personal testimonies of other places has been enlightening and encouraging.

We have enjoyed reconnecting with our home culture this year, but also are reminded that our “home” is now in Congo. We recently committed to another four-year term in Congo and anticipate returning in January. We consider it a privilege to serve alongside our brothers and sisters in Congo, and to be the tangible “on the ground” signs of the significant partnership between the church in the U.S. and the church in Congo. It is the prayers, encouragement, and financial support of so many individuals and churches that enables us to continue. Thank you—if you have just read this newsletter, this means you! We hope that you will continue this journey with us through these next four years as well.

Grace and peace,

Bob and Kristi

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