Andrej Berg

Andrej Berg

středa, 24 březen 2004 22:09

Behind the Scenes

We just returned from an evaluation visit in the Northwest of Congo in Mbandaka. The terrible civil war raged the worst in the North and East of the country. Although the situation is still the worst in the East because of ongoing unrest there, we decided to help in the North for now, because the East by far receives the biggest help and finances from a lot of international organizations while little help goes to the North. Before we get into more details, we would like to give you a little insight what all goes into this work, especially at the beginning stage of establishing a new mission station.

When we arrived here last summer for the first time to check out the situation, we literally didn't know a soul. Only by a miracle one week before our flight from Cameroon we met a Congolese man, who gave us contact to one of his friends in Kinshasa. This dear man didn't just receive us at the airport, but also opened his house for our three men team. We stayed with him for the first few weeks with a total of twelve people in his small house, he gave us food and helped us tremendously to get a good start here.

The Lord did another miracle for us just before our return to Congo in October. Missionary friends of ours in Europe "by chance" met a Congolese lady who offered us to stay in her house in Kinshasa. When we later arrived at the door of her family with just her name as a referral, they immediately agreed to let us use a small apartment in their house for a month. Such sweet and hospitable people!

The next step was to find a suitable house for our future team. Everybody told us that it was the worst time to find housing in Kinshasa as the prices had gone sky high recently. Again we needed a miracle, a place which was safe, inexpensive and close to downtown since Kinshasa is very large and we don't have a car yet. And that's exactly what the Lord gave us! The rent is very reasonable as the landlord wanted to help our work in this way and the house needed a lot of repairs.  The house is in a very good and safe location, so we gladly took over the needed repairs, getting the roof fixed, building in a new toilet, bathroom and kitchen, new water connection to the house, overhauling of the electric appliances etc. We don’t know how long we can stay, but are very thankful for the dear landlords to help us get a good start in this city of 6 million inhabitants. We had to get basic furniture until we get more materials in the container, find the best ways to go shopping and the many little jobs which go into setting up a new base.    

Another important and time consuming aspect of our work was to prepare the shipping of our container which took a lot of research, prayer, planning, finding the right contacts, looking for better ones etc. After lots of trial and error we believe that we found the best possibility to get the needed tax exoneration. Then we had to find the best and cheapest way to get the container from the harbor in Matadi to Kinshasa, which is very expensive because of the high transport costs, harbor and "control" charges etc.

At the same time we are preparing for the distribution, to find where our help is needed the most, who is trustworthy and takes good care of our wheelchairs, sewing machines, PCs etc. This concerns especially the complete dentist office equipment and shoemaker set-up.

Besides all this there is legal paperwork to do, like visa extensions and finding the right local organization to work with etc. Our team's been slowly arriving and everyone has to be introduced to the work and new situation, with more people still coming. Every Sunday afternoon we have a meeting for people who want to know more about the Bible or have other questions about life, faith etc. For this we also had to find the right place. We visit people and people come to our house for spiritual support if they can't come to the Sunday meeting or need more personal attention. In between we are writing Newsletters, had to find the best E-mail connections. E-mails? Oh yes, they are waiting for an answer since a long time… We hope this helps you to get a bit of a picture of what we do "behind the scenes".

Back to our introductory story: in Mbandaka we talked with different UN and local organizations to find out where the greatest need is for our aid. There are so many whom we would like to help, but our resources are limited and few compared to the vast need. After several days of research we met Seraphin from OCHA - Humanitarian Aid Coordinator of the UN. He doesn’t look at his work like a normal job but was willing to meet and take time with us outside of his working hours. We are planning to see on another trip what he described to us: in the far North of Congo live thousands of people in the woods, where they took refuge from the rebel fighters in the war and from where they can't go anywhere since they have no clothes! They will need clothing before they can return to their villages.

Our plan: around Abuzi live about 6500 of these forgotten and internally displaced people in ten camps. We want to distribute our clothes, sheets and shoes there to the most vulnerable, like the old people, widows, orphans, handicapped etc, so they can return again to their villages. Seraphin was especially happy that we didn't just want to help them physically, but also spiritually. From experience we know that people in such extreme situations need an extra dose of encouragement and power from Above. For all this we need your continued prayers and support, without which we couldn't do it. Thank you so much!

You might have heard in the News that fighting erupts sporadically between opposing groups in different parts of the country. We would like to ask you to please keep praying with us for the peace process in this troubled country. Thanks!

Wolfgang and Mathew before boarding UN plane in Mbandaka.Biblestudy at our house: f.l.t.r.: Genevieve, Eric, José, Lenka, Naomi and Doudou.Genevieve, Lenka & Wolfg. bringing bread, stories, games and joy to the orphans.Wolfgang & Genevieve at the orphanage Molende outside Kinshasa.Mathew and our new friends in Mbandaka singing together before a Biblestudy.Genevieve & Lenka giving flannelgraph story in orphanage „PROKIN“, Kinshasa.

pondělí, 24 listopad 2003 22:09

New Challenge: Congo DRC, Kinshasa

At our stay in Europe we were able to visit our families as well as some of you and phone others, and we are thankful that we can at least stay in contact with all of you by mail.

During our yearly roundtrip we could again organize many new humanitarian aid items for the container and want to once again thank all of you who donated materials or helped otherwise, especially with the local storages and the transportation to our final storage in Erfurt! Special thanks also to all who helped financially, as you know, we can’t do this fulltime and voluntary work without help from outside.

Besides the humanitarian help we are also planning to bring again spiritually feeding and teaching materials, which is very much need here. In our many years of experience in this work (for Wolfgang it will be 30 years at Christmas) we found out that the spiritual aspect of our work is even more important than the physical. Everywhere we found that people have a deep desire for inner peace and happiness in their lives, which really only God’s love can fill. In Africa this is very obvious since Africans generally believe very much in God and this natural faith gives them lots of strength, especially since they have so many physical needs. In Germany I hear sometimes: “Yes, after the war people still had more faith here also” or “When I’m going through a rough time, then I also start praying”. Usually I answer: “But we don’t have to wait until we are having bad times. God is also there when we are having a good time.” But that seems to be a problem: many are forgetting God, when things are going good for them.

The different “Activated” publications which are available in French will be a big help for this inner desire of so many here in Congo, where people are very hungry and open to God’s love, comfort and strength. But just as “faith without works is dead” (Jam. 2:26b) we are trying our best to also alleviate the physical plight of the poor here.

At the moment we are very busy to establish our new mission station and to find the best way to achieve tax exoneration. Both are an especially difficult task here for several reasons. Rents and food, harbor charges and transportation costs are extremely high. The harbor of Matadi is 300 km away from the capitol. But since almost everything in this war torn land is imported and more expensive than in Europe, our humanitarian aid items are even more needed than so far. At the same time we are also checking again, where the greatest need is as we can only help the most underprivileged people.

A simple way how we can help when we are out is giving a loaf of bread or bananas to the many hungry beggars we meet on the streets everywhere. They are very thankful for every little bit of help and appreciate a word of comfort or a prayer. It inspires their life, when they see how somebody cares for them.

We would like to ask you for your continued support, so that we can help these people, and are sure that God will bless you for it as He promised in Luk 6:38 “Give and it shall be given unto you…” Please also pray with us that the new joint government between the president and the three rebel groups can establish lasting peace and that the devastated economical situation can improve even if only slowly. Thank you!

Lenka with a 50 kg sack of rice in a day-center for streetchildren.Daniela, Wolfgang, Joanna & Lenka in our Erfurt storage with new aid items.Lenka explains „Activated“ magazines & literature to students in the main University of Kinshasa (26.000 students).mapcongo.jpgAfter our two-day seminar with the subjects: „Hearing from God“, „Witnessing“ and „Signs of the (End-) Time“.

čtvrtek, 24 červenec 2003 22:09

More Distribution and Future Plans

While the pygmies were the poorest people on the countryside who needed our clothing and shoes more than anybody else, we distributed our other materials to the most needy people in the two big cities, Douala and Yaounde, who were very thankful for them. Our goal was to let as many people as possible benefit from these, which is why we chose institutions where a lot of people could make good use of them.

We distributed 15 wheelchairs, 9 toilet- & shower chairs, 15 pairs of crutches, 16 walking aids, 4 PCs, 5 sewing machines & tools to one old folks home, two handicapped centers, one training center for 300 underprivileged girls and four orphanages. Different medical aid went to a hospital and three boxes of glasses to doctors who will prescribe them properly to needy people.

During the distribution and the many preparations for it we appreciated very much the help of Allain Eloumndene, a former German teacher, presently the personal secretary of the Minister of Social Affaires who invested a lot of time and effort to help us get this complicated and involved project running as smooth as possible. To organize such a distribution in Africa the right way is not an easy task as people have to follow complicated protocols and there are jealous and greedy people who hinder your efforts because you don’t cooperate with their corrupt ways.

In the container we could also bring over a hundred new bibles and many boxes of very helpful educational materials and Christian literature, tracts, books and cassettes which will help a lot of children, schools & interested people in their spiritual growth and personal walk with the Lord.

Our distribution to the pygmies was recorded by a team from the national TV which accompanied us for several days in the bush, and the film was already sent several times at peak hours. Some of us were recognized several times on the street and we are very happy that the work in Cameroon got rolling well. Stephan and Annette with team will carry on the work there with a long term vision, while Lenka and my hearts’ desire since a long time was to open a mission station in Congo. Already 2 years ago from Zambia we wanted to make a trip to check out the possibilities there, but it wasn’t God’s time yet. Now the Lord opened a door for us and I just returned from our first visit there, while Lenka and Mathew are staying there for another month to find further contacts.

Our first impression confirmed as was expected that this country, plagued by many years of terrible civil war, no doubt needs our help more than any of the others we worked in so far. Although at the moment you hear sometimes in the news about it, the people there suffered a lot more than we can imagine already since decades. After the independence from Belgium they had first Mobutu’s dictatorship with two devastating lootings in 1991 & 1993 in Kinshasa which threw the country from being quite rich, especially for African standard, basically over night into great poverty. Since 1998 rages terrible civil war which cost already about 3 million lives, not to mention the many refugees & displaced people who lost everything and the general economical breakdown.

In Kinshasa with about 6 million inhabitants they estimate about 80 % jobless people who fight for survival without any help. In many quarters of the city there is no electricity or running water. Many eat only once a day. Theft & corruption are therefore very high. They estimate between 10 & 15 thousand street children who for different reasons live on the street and are facing like the child soldiers without any schooling a dark future.

In spite – or rather because – of all these problems we feel called to help these precious people. It’s probably the greatest challenge of our lives and we pray that if it’s God will that He will give us a new team with His strength and guidance to build His work there where we would like to stay for a many years. Although poverty is widespread, prices are even higher than in the other African countries we lived in. So we wanted to ask you to help us as much as possible since we can’t operate there without your help from outside. The best would be if you could support us with regular bank transfers as the desperate people there expect more help from us then we experienced anywhere else, which we can understand very well considering their difficult situation.

Although their harbor in Matadi is supposed to be the most expensive in the world, we are planning to send again humanitarian aid there as the need is so incredibly big. Besides the spiritual strengthening & encouragement people need anything we can bring from abroad, finances and goods. Thank you so much for all your help, we really appreciate it a lot!

Lisa (right: with Naomi) distributing shoes, clothing and toys at the “Remar” orphanage where we did several shows.Allain between Wolfgang & Annette at the Socialministry.Tracts (& sewingmachine etc) for the 300 girls at “Messa”.Books for Evelyn & her evangelisationwork in the slums.Annette & Lenka with bicycles & wheelchairs for “Promhandicam”.Wolfgang & Mathew distributing aid at the “Remar” ophanage.Finally the fitting wheelchair for little Daniel.Wolfgang & Lisa unloading the wheelchairs & other hum. aid items.The head of the orphanage (in white) is very happy for our help.

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