God reached out to Bercy Mundedi in her valley of tears. In turn, she reached out to others and discovered that blessing is evangelism.
In today's troubled world, many people live in a state of despair. In response to this crisis, the church is called to be the hands and feet of Jesus to share God's love. The Christ whom we serve emptied himself to identify with, be present to, and serve all people. Allow me to share with you my own journey through despair, into a place where, like Christ, I could begin to take new risks to share God's love.
I began to be abused and betrayed by my relatives when I was young. I suffered through several illnesses that left me frail and vulnerable throughout much of my life. My involvement with the Congo Leadership Coaching Network set me on a new path of experiencing God's love.
In 2017, I became the director of Kalonda Bible Institute, the leadership-training school of Communauté Mennonite au Congo (Mennonite Church of Congo).
Soon after I was named to this position, our region came under siege in the Kamuina Nsapu rebellion. I was targeted as a person belonging to the "wrong tribe." Then, more recently, the Bible institute was hit with another crisis. It involved a significant reduction to teaching faculty and staff salaries and student scholarships. If that wasn't enough stress, my husband is without employment, and the pandemic has severely crippled the Congolese economy.
I found myself in a dark place, which I call "the valley of tears." But even there, God reached out to me.
"Even when their paths wind through the dark valley of tears, they dig deep to find a pleasant pool where others find only pain. [God] gives to them a brook of blessing filled from the rain of an outpouring" Psalm 84:6 (The Passion Translation).
By God's grace, even when faced with many challenges, I did not lose my faith in God. I still had a little strength, and this strength helped me hear the voice of the Good Shepherd, "Even though you walk through the dark valley of death, you needn't be afraid. I am close beside you, guarding, guiding all the way" (adapted from Psalms 23:4).
From these promises of God's word, I gained the energy to share hope with my family and my relatives. Scripture teaches us to share God's word both in season and out of season. I could see that others around me were experiencing miserable distress and poverty, like what I was experiencing. But how could I reach them, given that the churches and all institutions were closed due to COVID-19 restrictions?
The idea came to me to travel among the towns and villages and share how to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Africa Inter-Mennonite Mission (AIMM), Mennonite Mission Network and Mennonite Central Committee offered financial assistance for this task.
I started with the communities closest to me, in the Tshikapa region. Eventually, with the help of my son, Serge, we rented motorbikes and ventured further out, sometimes being away from home for more than a week at a time. Undertaking these journeys across hundreds of kilometers was immensely difficult. One of our biggest concerns was the constant insecurity caused by the fear of a roadside ambush by people desperate to feed their families.
As I completed awareness-building assignments in the various villages and towns, I gained courage. The little strength I had increased, and my deep concerns about my future were gradually replaced with peace. I found myself growing in love for the people I taught.
Everywhere I went people were astounded by my bravery and were encouraged that someone came to visit them amid their own distress. They said things like, "We can't believe you cared so much about our safety and wellbeing that you traveled so far." Or "No church leaders have come to visit us in years. You have restored our faith that the church is still alive!"
Though COVID-19 has not arrived in all the places that we visited, our presence brought relief from another pandemic familiar to too many people — isolation and fear. What I discovered through my willingness to step out and help others is that offering friendship to others in Jesus' name is a powerful force that contributes to everyone's growth and health. In my experience, being a channel of blessing to others is a form of evangelism.