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Faith Is a Muscle to be Used

by Crossworld
in Child-student ministry, Church, Congo, Mission work, Story
Wes learns to practice his faith like the Congolese.
DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO — Nearly 100 middle school boys fidgeted in packed rows, eyeing each other and the door … everything but Crossworld worker Wes.

“Remember how God protected baby Moses when Pharaoh tried to kill all the Hebrew boys?” Wes prompted the boys in his Sunday school class (pictured above). “Can you tell me about a moment in your life when God protected you?”

Their lesson that day was on God’s protection, and Wes wanted the boys to see how it applied in their own lives, but none of them were eager to participate.

“May I share an example?” piped up Marland, Wes’s Congolese co-teacher who had witnessed the lesson and the boys’ inattention.

“Who remembers the war of 2003?” Marland asked.

Every hand in the room shot up. Nearly everyone in a 100-mile radius had lost family members to the deadly conflict.

“One day I was out in the bush with my friend when we came upon a militia from the other tribe,” Marland said. “They grabbed us and shoved us into the middle of their group. One of them with a rifle stood in front of my friend and me. He raised it and shot my friend. Then he turned the gun toward me and pulled the trigger, but it didn’t fire. He adjusted it and pulled the trigger again. Nothing. They started yelling at me, and they kicked me and hit me with the rifle. When I fell to the ground, I had a vision that an angel laid on top of me to protect me.”

Wes swallowed hard and looked around. Not a boy stirred — every pair of eyes was fixed on Marland.

“They led me to their camp where there were other prisoners. One day, one of the leaders took me aside and asked what kind of drugs I use to be strong. He said he would let me go so I could purchase the drugs for the militia. I told him that the only thing that makes me strong is the name of Jesus. The man yelled at me: ‘No! We do not say the name of Jesus here!’ He took me back to the other prisoners. God protected us, and eventually they let us go.”

Marland’s story had so captivated the boys — and Wes — that they all needed a minute to recover when Marland finished.

Later that afternoon, Wes faced a frightening situation of his own as he watched his son battle a particularly dangerous case of malaria. He recalled Marland’s story and the memory verse they had taught the Sunday school boys that morning: “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble” (Psalm 46:1).

Before Wes moved to Congo, he experienced faith as a state of the mind. But in Congo, faith is functional. What will we eat tonight? Militias are burning villages again; who will protect us? My daughter has typhoid fever; will she live? Faith is the muscle that Congolese believers flex with every new grief. And every time God protects them, their faith becomes stronger.

That day with his son, Wes had an opportunity to practice what he learned from God through Marland: To use his faith.

Your part in this story...

Crossworld worker Wes asks you to pray for these requests.

  • Congo has one of the highest birth rates in the world. Children far outnumber adults and many of them grow up without the care and attention they need. Pray for Congolese children to find everything they need in Christ.
  • Pray for me as I lead a new literacy program in the primary school. The average class size is 50 students, and they have never used books in the classroom. They are learning everything from the beginning, like how to turn the page and how to find a page number.
  • Many of the boys from the Sunday school class also attend the primary school where I teach. Pray for fruitful connections with them and their families.
The people in this story are real, but italicized names have been changed to protect their privacy.

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