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What Does Your Culture Say About God?

in Africa, Blog, Community Development, Congo
Thoughts from a field worker in Congo.

We don’t receive many visitors at night, so I was surprised when Ndugu knocked on our door late. He had left his phone at our home during his visit earlier that day. We were getting ready for dinner so we invited him to eat with us. As we ate together, we began to discuss the exploitation of Congo. Despite being endowed with excessive amounts of natural resources, Congo is still one of the most unstable and impoverished countries in the world.

“I doubt the upcoming elections will happen,” Ndugu said. “And if they do, I doubt they’ll be free from the current government’s control. Truthfully, I doubt the current president will surrender his office.” Ndugu paused for a moment, then said, “But the Congolese won’t react.”

I switched on the solar-powered bulb that hung over the table and leaned in close to Ndugu. “Why?” I asked him. “Why don’t the Congolese react? Why don’t they unite in opposition? Why don’t they resist?”

He smiled warmly at me, endeared by my simplicity. “We Congolese love peace,” he said. “It is something the Lord has placed in us, and we are willing to suffer quietly so we can have it.”

I sat in awe of his response and thought to myself, What would it mean to value suffering for peace above fighting for freedom?

I think that when God created the peoples of the earth, He gifted them each with a unique view of His character. For Americans, it is freedom, and for the Congolese, it is peace. But if we limit ourselves to one particular angle of God’s character, we’re simultaneously constrained from fully understanding Him.

Since coming to Congo, I’ve recklessly trampled peace in several relationships due to my American values of being bold and getting results. On the other hand, I’ve seen Congolese people practice an art of diplomacy and restraint that ingeniously preserves relationships. This culture truly brings to life the peace that God calls us to in His Word.

“Servants, be submissive to your masters with all respect, not only to those who are good and gentle, but also to those who are unreasonable. For this finds favor, if for the sake of conscience toward God a person bears up under sorrows when suffering unjustly” (1 Peter 2:18-19, NASB).

It’s beautiful to learn more of God’s character through the Congolese people. I pray that together, we display to the world a more complete picture of Him.

Wes and his family live and make disciples in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

The people in this story are real, but the italicized names have been changed to protect their privacy.

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What do you think? Your comments and questions on the topic of this blog are welcome. (See our brief policy.)


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