|photo from publicdomainpicture.net|
We have a Congolese friend here, whom I will refer to as “Ben” so as to protect his privacy. Ben just moved his family to a new home, and for Ben and his family, this move was very significant.
Housing for a majority of the people here consists of only a couple of small rooms, and the apartment is part of a duplex or four-plex. All of the families in the building share an outhouse for their bathroom needs. There is a water tap in the community where people go to collect their daily water. Often there is only a curtain where the door ought to be and if there is a window, it may or may not have a glass pane or a set of curtains. There is no indoor plumbing. There is seldom electricity. Many families here are large, and they all sleep on mats on the floors. Ben and his wife have six children.
Here are some examples of housing in DRC.
This move was a big deal to Ben's family because for the first time in their lives, they are able to rent a little house with a tiny yard, a tiny kitchen, space for the children to sleep more comfortably, indoor plumbing and their own bathroom IN THE HOUSE. He was so excited when he told David that “now we can go to the bathroom even when it’s raining!” When it rains in Congo, it’s usually a real gully washer and going out in it can be dangerous with all the mud, poor visibility, and the semi-buried power lines. No one goes anywhere when it is raining.
When David shared that with me, it stunned me. Here we are feeling inconvenienced when the water is off for a few hours, or when we have to stay home during civil unrest with our refrigerators full of food while the rest of the city doesn’t eat because without refrigeration in their homes they have to shop daily for provisions and it is too dangerous to venture out. How would I feel if our family didn’t even have our own bathroom? If something as simple as going to the restroom suddenly became a big deal?
That phrase has stuck with me for days now. I felt like God was asking me: "Do you love me? Do you trust me? Will you follow me? Will you praise me? Even when it's raining?"
Sometimes, the combined distractions and needs, whether good or bad, trivial or important, internal or external, are like a rain storm. I know the path before me is slippery and dangerous, and that I should cling to God and praise Him, but my visibility is reduced in the storm and I can’t see Him. Do my love for God and my trust in Him motivate me to praise Him anyway?
We’ve recently had days of civil unrest here and people have been hurt and killed. People have suffered. People are angry, hurt and confused. The Congolese are going through a real and potentially ferocious storm right now. I pray that believers here can be a light, making God visible and showing others the way to Him, and loving as Christ loves. Even when it’s raining.