“When are You Coming Back?”

In March 2010, Clement “Bud” Kroeker and Olivier Engels traveled to Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) to begin meeting with local Congolese to learn what is most needed and what can be done. Here is what Clement reported at the conclusion of that trip:

If we had to choose two words to express our trip they would be joy and sadness. We were welcomed so joyfully everywhere we went by a large number of people and pastors who expressed their gratitude and thanked God we had come to visit. We were touched meeting so many faithful Christians.

But the sad part was to see things in such a poor, run-down condition. Former buildings of schools, churches, and health centers lying in ruins or very dilapidated, or nothing left at all. The people have not been able to rebuild since the wars and rebellion of the Mulele troops in 1963 followed by Mobutu’s troops. Here and there a few metal roofs cover a torn down wall or two. Pieces of bricks or other walls give evidence of buildings that were built there over 50 years ago, but now the tall, wild grass covers everything. Besides this there is a total lack of Bibles, Christian literature or education materials for the schools.

We had hoped to visit 15 of the old mission stations, but the condition of the roads makes it impossible. Nor was there time. Nor were the vehicles in good enough condition to make the trip. But we were able to visit six mission stations that I knew well in my youth, plus three cities of the province in addition to Kinshasa that makes ten centers of contacts. They were happy that I still could understand and speak Kikongo, but getting back into practice, we used French most of the time.

Before returning to Kikwit at the end of our time in the bush, we went back a second time to Matende, the last mission station where I lived with my family until 1950. Everyone agreed that this area is the most logical place to rebuild. It is closest to the highway, and closest to Kikwit. The leaders of the Matende area are eager to rebuild and show the most enthusiasm. Parts of a clinic and a school still are used although in terrible condition. A Christian doctor comes to work several days each month. The mission still owns its plot of 25 acres of land plus 150 acres of agricultural land.

We talked with the Christian leaders and pastors at Matende, again in Kikwit and again in Kinshasa and discussed ways of turning this land into a center for spiritual refreshment, education, agriculture and communication. The project has no funding but there is a desire to pray and work. If it is God’s will, there will be help for the building of schools, churches, dispensary and housing for volunteers and personnel. Also discussed was a way to use clean energy, have Internet connection, and start a library or even a small printing press.

Each time they asked the question: When are you coming back?

Welcome

The association Congo Open Heart has come into being to encourage the people groups, organizations and churches to work together in a cooperative effort to develop and rebuild the missions that were started in the heart of the Democratic Republic of Congo, in the heart of Africa: the region of Kikwit-Gungu-Idiofa.

Congo Open Heart

The association Congo Open Heart has come into being to encourage the people groups, organizations and churches to work together in a cooperative effort to develop and rebuild the missions that were started in the heart of the Democratic Republic of Congo, in the heart of Africa: the region of Kikwit-Gungu-Idiofa.

Congo Open Heart is an African association, registered and directed in the Democrat- ic Republic of Congo with offices in Kinshasa. It was started with the vision of Clement Kroeker, retired founder of Editeurs de Littérature Biblique, now BLF, who grew up in the area helping his parents with the pioneer work of starting these centers of action called missions. Each mission was a village, a campus with housing, schools, hospital, practical training centers for men and women, a beehive of activity until they were destroyed by the Mulele rebellion of 1963-1965.

The purpose is to facilitate and help the missions and surrounding villages to work together, to invest in their work and make it productive so that the partners can work without dependence on foreign donations. The missions will once again become centers of education, biblical training, medical and social help, providing people with the trades and resources needed to contribute to their families, their province, their country and even the world.

The strategy is to organize a development group in each rural mission. This group needs to unite the people of the mission and villages around activities that can bring them out of poverty and help them take on the responsibility of rebuilding their mission.

The motivation of the association comes from the metaphor of the heart that represents the soul strength of man that must be transformed. There must be a change of heart and behavior in order to have real authentic development of the human being and his social environment. Misery, suffering, poverty are often tied to human behavior. Congo Open Heart calls on as many synergies as possible so that the heart of Africa, that is the Congo, will no longer beat in misery but have…

♥ 1. a heart that beats with hope for a new life of joy, peace, progress and productivity

♥ 2. a heart that beats with new energy for spiritual, academic and productive training

♥ 3. a heart that seeks to put into practice new methods of communication, work, transportation, cultivation, eating and health care

♥ 4. a heart that comes out of lethargy to show that the new generation has vision and strength of character to roll up its sleeves, get its hands dirty, endure suffering and take on changes without waiting for imaginative or ephemeral help

♥ 5. a heart that quivers with a new vision to see the endless hills of wild grass transformed into cultivated fields to feed not only the people of its villages but the whole country and even the world that is falling into starvation

♥ 6. a heart that does not tire of conserving and maintaining the forests, buildings, roads, ports, navigable rivers as well as religious and democratic infrastructures

♥ 7. a heart that weeps for the sufferings, injustice, corruption, conflicts, violence, degradations and destruction

♥ 8. a heart full of compassion to nurse and care for people in need

♥ 9. a heart that prays, that recognizes it’s failures and shortcomings and asks God
to help

♥ 10. a heart that encourages the governments, international and local agencies to help the interior of the country and make it possible for the people to return there permanently to live and work.