Years of dry work for one pastor is now yielding great community transformation and church growth.
For several years, Pastor Saidi attended community health seminars hosted by World Challenge partners. He was an active participant in discussion groups and was enthusiastic about the ideas presented.
When he returned home to his village of Bulongo in central Democratic Republic of Congo, he imparted the vision of how Christian community can practically address everyday issues several times to his church and community.
However, the ideas seemed to gain no traction.
Dry Land Waiting for Rain
Saidi’s church was mostly composed of subsistence farmers who would benefit greatly from some of the trainings. However, people might agree that the ideas for crop variety or micro-businesses sounded like good ones, but then their support seemed to melt away.
No community work seemed to successfully sprout, and Pastor Saidi returned year after year to the training seminars to collect new ideas and other ways that he could hopefully spur his community into action.
Seeing so little fruit would have made it very easy to give up.
Questions and prayers appeared to go unanswered in those moments as everyone waited for the Holy Spirit to move. True community change could only be achieved with a change of heart in Bulongo’s people to support and build up each other and their village, and only God can change a heart.
Pastor Saidi persisted, regularly seeking prayer for his village and working with World Challenge trainers.
An Explosion of Growth
Finally, Pastor Saidi and the people of Bulongo formed a committee to more actively discuss changes that they could make in their community that would honor God with their work and money.
On some vacant land in the village, they decided to cultivate tomatoes and see if this enterprise would be profitable. They pooled their money together and were able to purchase $10 worth of tomato seedlings, nurturing them with new agricultural practices.
The plants did extremely well, and the committee earned back four times as much as they had invested in the plants.
The church became active in serving its farming community, reaching out and using these lessons to talk about how God gave the earth to his children to care for and cultivate.
After the success with the tomatoes, the church organized 40 members to clear a large plot of waste land. This area had become overgrown with waist-high grass and dense shrubs. They got spades and machetes for everyone to clear the land, and once it was ready, they planted maze and beans.
Thanks to D.R. Congo’s tropical climate, the crops would be ready to harvest about three months later.
The Mark of God’s Blessing
One lady from the community told World Challenge trainers, “This church has transformed us by organising us to work together for the good of our community.”
The mysterious spark of the Holy Spirit was being fanned into flames of love in action for these people. They joyfully greeted our partner and eagerly showed him around Bulongo to see the work being done.
Ester, a member of thecommittee, showed him plans they have to plant 600 papaya seedlings. Papaya milk is used there for several types of traditional medicine and can be sold to medical facilities for a tidy profit. Ester and others have already gone about setting up business deals with pharmacies in Beni, the nearest large city.
The lively attitude of hope and weekly church activities has united the community, and word is going around about what this church is doing for people.
As a result, Pastor Saidi’s church has seen many come to Christ, so much so that they have planted a new church on the outskirts of Bulongoto reach the people and farming communities farther away.
Patience and steadfast prayer over the dry years is now yielding a mighty harvest.