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The Congolese cowboy

We need Christ regardless of where we live

By Don Morris, Mission USA director

If you have ever driven about Kinshasa, DR Congo, you know that the traffic is so bizarre, congested and dangerous that you frequently see your life flash before your eyes. I was there in August with my son and his wife who adopted a little girl from DR Congo. I went with them as they met her and began the in-country process of getting her to America. It was an interesting experience to say the least.

Papa John—the Congolese Cowboy—was our driver during the time we were there. He’s the only Congolese I saw wearing a cowboy hat, and I still have Johnny Cash songs running through my mind as John played them over and over again as we drove around Kinshasa. At age 64, Papa John has seen a lot of hardship.

John was born in the volatile eastern part of Congo, moved as a young man to Kinshasa to find work and then raised a family there. Now he drives adopting American couples to the places they need to be as they process all the governmental requirements for adoption. John speaks 17 languages. He’s a good man.

I asked John about churches in Kinshasa, and he angrily described them as places where pastors are the ones with the nice cars and homes as they skimmed money from the churches’ coffers. His intensely negative view of the church was disconcerting. As we talked further, I asked him if there were any good churches, and he acknowledged that there were a few.

As I probed further, John indicated that he is a believer in Jesus, that Jesus is his Savior and that he knows he is a sinner in need of forgiveness—but that he has stopped going to church. With that testimony, I encouraged John to find a church that wasn’t corrupt and to then begin enhancing his walk with Jesus. I mentioned that we have many Mennonite Brethren churches in Kinshasa that would welcome him. We talked about this quite a lot, and he indicated before we left that he was convicted to get back to church and to pursue Jesus more fully.

I was struck with the uniformity of the vast need people all over the world have for a relationship with Jesus. Here was a 64-year-old Congolese cowboy who realized he needed to go deeper with Jesus and that he did need the church to help him. I see people all over our nation who need the exact same thing. They need a good, solid church to help them with their own following of Jesus. Mission USA is striving to plant more of these kinds of churches every year.

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