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Missionaries Were The Difference Makers!

If you are fortunate to spend a few days in Brussels, Belgium, and you have a heart for Africa, consider visiting the Central Africa Museum. Information appeared in the New York Times a few years ago and it has been on my list of things to do ever since. My passion for the visit stemmed from more than thirty years of work that my Aunt Lodema Short accomplished as a Mennonite Missionary to the Belgian Congo,later known as Zaire. In 1960, she was life-flighted out of the country during violence that took place as tribal warfare and political realities collided. There is still a book available called “War to be One” by Levi Keidel that records heroic and tragic events from this time. She later returned for several years as an instructor at a teacher training facility.

After spending four hours walking thru the museum, the roles of many players became much clearer to me. King Leopold II was interested in economic gain for the Belgians and this royal palace that is now the Musee Central Africa is a monument to that effort. There is an attempt to balance that motive with clear acknowledgement that almost all of the humanitarian efforts in the schools, hospitals, and homes were the result of Christian missionaries. During the sixty years of imperial domination by Belgium from 1900 to 1960, the literacy rate for the Congo went from less than 2% of the population to over 40% thanks solely to the efforts of missionaries. Hospitals, schools, teacher training centers, and colleges were almost all the product of sacrificial workers who named Jesus Christ as their motivation for being there.

My aunt was a teacher and loved to paint and loved the arts. I was eight years old when she asked me what I thought of one of her paintings. It was a young African child who was looking from a sideways perspective at his village. I could not see that she had painted any ears on this child and so I told her that I was concerned whether he could hear. As the tears rolled down her cheeks, she said, “Thanks for the title for my picture!” She called the painting, “WILL HE HEAR?” Her heart was like the heart of every person who calls themselves a missionary. Will the people I meet today to share the Gospel, have open ears and open hearts to “hear” the truth of God’s love? It was that type of heart and passion for others that made all the difference in the Congo! As you pray for someone today, remember the missionaries who are our soldiers for the Gospel.

Matthew 28:19-20 (RSV) “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, to the close of the age.”

Monday Morning Message Sent 10/19/09


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