Missionaries in Congo
Since we last wrote we have had many visitors and have said goodbye to the Chapmans for now. Our Area Director, Eleazar, visited and a Mission Aviation Fellowship (MAF) family came out to the village for a weekend. All this time with expats was very special and rejuvenating for us. Katrina and I went on our first date in Kikongo after all the kids went to bed, watched over by our MAF friends. It was a great night of games and sharing.
Thank you so much for everything you do to sustain our life here. Many of you have written about how much fun your kids have had reading our Facebook/Twitter updates about the animals we care for. It really does mean a lot when we are told how our various communications are being enjoyed.
Thanks to those of you who give financially so that we can minister here. Thanks, too, to those who simply read our updates or pray for our ministry here without saying a word to us. We thank our resurrected Lord for each of you and the role you play in our ministry.
Your co-workers in Christ,
Kyle & Katrina Williams
An Easter Assault
Easter Sunday in Kikongo was loud...more than normal loud. Whistles blew and horns blasted, people yelled out cheers, children went up and down the isles of the church and crowded the windows and doorways. Katrina and I watched from outside because we literally wouldn’t fit in the building by the time we arrived! Two people were trying to keep a semblance of order by shushing others and telling them to sit down, but this was a losing battle for them. It was assaulting to our western ways of proper meetings. But maybe Easter Sunday needs to look more like revelry and less like a lecture. Maybe we need more dancing and whistles and terribly loud music. Church today in this small village was a celebration, a party. I mean, what better way to shout that Jesus is alive!
The story of the resurrection is a lot like today with the assaults on culture that are similar to those of the 1st century. To begin with, it was the Messiah who died rather than doing the killing. A criminal was the first to arrive in “paradise,” not a parishioner. And it was women, not men, who first preached the Gospel of a risen LORD.
Every part of this story is counter-cultural and backwards. Men were supposed to be the heroes, the righteous to go to heaven, and the Messiah was supposed to do some murdering of Israel’s Roman occupants.
In a culture where power is worshiped and weakness is equated with evil, a God who chooses to die so that his enemies may live makes no sense. Even today in the U.S. one can see that power is sought after more so than self-sacrifice. For evidence of this, think about why the country with the world’s largest military is boasting of it getting larger, while simultaneously bragging about cutting support to its poorest denizens - amidst the cheers of so many in the Church. If there is one thing the current political system shows the rest of the world, it is that we are more worried about being on the side of power rather than on the side of meekness, gentleness and humility. Again, I have to chalk this up to the fact that God’s way does not make sense to many people, both those in the Church and those outside it.
And in a culture where women were marginalized, God chose to first reveal his resurrected self to them, ordaining them as the first preachers of the Gospel. I find this to be a bigger deal than we make of it. It was women who chose to go to the grave where Roman guards were supposed to be on post while the men remained hidden away. Our life in Congo has brought new light to this passage and made it clear that I too would have been hiding with all the other men.
Congo has taught me a lot about avoiding soldiers, police, and government officials. Really, anybody with power of any kind often means trouble for us in one way or another. I often plan travel and errands on my ability to avoid these people. I ran into a local police chief early on in a nearby village. He smelled of alcohol and demanded that I come to the “station” for questioning. Fortunately, my friend told him that that wasn’t going to happen and that if he needed to talk with me, he must first talk with that village's pastor. This is the proper protocol for the police to follow when making such a request. We then just drove off, leaving the police chief behind. I try to avoid these confrontations like the plague, so had I been there when the women decided to take perfume to the the tomb, all the while knowing Roman guards were standing watch, there is no way I would have had the courage to go to Jesus’ tomb just to make His corpse smell better. But those women did. They were strong and courageous when no man was. The men were hiding and had just denied even knowing Jesus. But the women stood with the crowd and wept openly while the crowd and guards mocked Jesus.
So today be like the women, and be like the Congolese: Live courageously in the face of the principalities of this dark world. Don't be scared to look improper as you celebrate the Risen Lord. Let Him assault your preconceived notions of what is proper, in the hope of learning what is true.