We Make Plans but Then God…

A Letter from José LaMont Jones, serving in Congo, currently in the the Dominican Republic

Winter 2021

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Dear friends,

Perhaps, by the time you read this, it will have been a year since the world has been held hostage by the COVID-19 pandemic. Wow! Who would have thought that my first year with the Presbyterian Community of Kinshasa (CPK) in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) would be virtual? The plan had been for me to be in the DRC ministering by December 2020. We make plans but then God…

The Bible tells us that God has great plans for us (Jeremiah 29:11), has a purpose for us (Ephesians 2:10), and will ensure that these plans come to fruition (Philippians 1:6). Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the Lord that will stand (Proverbs 19:21). We can see God’s purpose in the development of this year’s CMN Network Conference.

The depth of coverage and level of contact with my network partners in planning and executing the Congo Mission Network (CMN) Conference this year has truly had to be God’s plan. I do not think I could have had a better on-boarding as a mission co-worker!

After centuries of mistreatment of African descendants in the Americas, who would have estimated that the world would come together in protest of yet another murder of an unarmed Black man at the hands of police, rise up in protest and declare that Black Lives Matter? This wake-up-call was the incentive for the CMN Network to focus on the Legacy of American Slavery and a need for honest, authentic conversation about how we have collaborated with our Congolese partners in the past how we can improve in the future.

I am working on an article that describes the process we have undergone in the CMN Network, looking at the past racial injustices through the lens of the Belhar Confession. Just as our 2020 elections showed that American democracy is subject to attack and is as fragile as the next. How can we claim, when we go out on mission, to have a corner on righteousness when our past actions cry out that we are only fallible humans in the process of becoming? Lord, help us see the truth and conform us to your likeness through the renewing of our minds and hearts. Mistakes have been made, but we pray for God’s strengthening of our weaknesses.

We, the mission co-workers of the African Area, have decided to use the denominational resource, “Lent to Liberation: Confronting the Legacy of American Slavery” as a guide to our reflection and personal renewal during this season of Lent. Our goal is to continue to build relationships between mission colleagues and understand the perspective of each other as valid input for understanding the truth about the enslaving past of the U.S. and the horrors of that institution which, more than 150 years after its “end,” still permeates our society and culture. My hope is that our self-inspection will bring about an understanding of truth and behavioral/attitudinal transformation. There can be no peace without justice, as Martin Luther King famously proclaimed. And, there can be no justice without truth, as Louis Farrakhan pointedly declared. We, who are Christ’s disciples, must share that truth in the way we live our lives.

So, where do we go from here? What do we do as social distancing and sheltering at home continues? Our CPK partners have made their needs clear: they need to renovate school edifices, they need textbooks and classroom supplies, teacher training, transportation for coordinators to travel the vast distances of their areas. They also need our prayers and medical support because health is one of life’s richest blessings. You can see our most-recent video report among the CMN Conference presentations on the CMN Network’s YouTube channel.

The restrictions caused by the pandemic have hurt the Congolese economy, households, and families. As you reflect on how God calls you to show love to others, is there any special gift you may share? Will you take a moment each week and remember our Congolese sisters and brothers’ needs in prayer? Are there policies or peace-making/advocacy efforts you can support and communicate to others that lift up justice and peace in the DRC? Are there ways to connect with others in your community/city to help?

We have our work cut out for us. I will be heading to the DRC as a new normal is being established for our Congolese siblings, the students and the schools I will be supporting. Let’s pray that this new normal will bring greater opportunities for cooperation and collaboration between our denominations and that open, honest discourse will be our goal.

In upcoming weeks, the PC(USA) leadership will evaluate the state of the pandemic and decide upon our ability to travel and re-engage with our partners in our countries of service. Keep the governments of the world in your prayers as vaccines are rolled out and administered. And, in the meanwhile, let’s continue to set an example of love of self and others by maintaining distance and wearing your mouth and nose coverings.

What is the plan for the future? Only God knows for sure. I have confidence in God’s plans for me; plans for welfare and not for evil, to give [me] a future and hope (Jeremiah 29:11). I am thankful for the blessings showered upon me each day. I will arise and walk in the light of God’s promise, sharing his love and working in God’s harvest.

In Christ’s Service,

José LaMont Jones

(Mission Co-Worker/Educations Specialist to CPK, DR Congo)

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