“The Lord is Good!” shouted the people on the right side. “All the time!” responded the ones on the left.
“All the time,” yelled the right. “God is Good!” said the right.
This is how the Congolese Christians begin their worship services. And so, we say to all of you, “God is Good!”
The English classes are progressing very well. One of the Christian men, Samuel Omar, is assisting me with the slower learners whose English is very weak. They tend to be shy and won’t speak out so that we can correct them. My learning curve in understanding what language is spoken by whom is almost vertical. I had wrongly assumed that all Congolese are Swahili-speakers – not true. Those from the western provinces (Kinshasa) and further north (Brazzaville) speak French and Lingala (a local language). The Burundis, Rwandans, Tanzanians, Kenyans, Ugandans and a few others can speak Swahili and have better English skills.
So, I am learning about four languages at once to try and keep the teaching flowing. I have flash cards with English words and other little games to keep them speaking and adding to their vocabularies. Sometimes, I cannot remember Xhosa or Afrikaans words because my head is filled with so many other tongues!
Via these simple classes, people are coming to the fledgling church in Elsies River. Bro Sam Jacobs has stepped out in faith and rented a building along the main road where most of the refugees live. I teach Wednesday evening CBS classes and there is always a translator for French-speakers. Many from the English classes are now attending the church on Sunday mornings, too. It is through the needs of the people that the church can grow and mature.
JOHN FROM BAKUVU
One of the Congolese is a single Christian man named John, who comes to the English and CBS classes. His small village was next to the river that borders Burundi and Rwanda. One day, when he was in the fields, the soldiers came and shot his mother, sister and father. When he heard the screams, he ran back only to find his dying father still alive in the destroyed village. He told John to leave Congo and find a safe place to live. John walked to Angola (about six hundred miles) and hitch hiked on a long haul truck to Namibia. He had no money and no one to turn to – outside of the Congo, no one spoke his languages. Another trucker brought him to Cape Town, where he found work washing cars.
I heard his story and asked him if it was difficult to believe in God’s love – so many Westerners see famine, war and disease killing millions every year and blame God for the tragedies. John looked at me with tears in his eyes and said in his broken English, “When you see what evil men do, you can’t help but believe in God — it is the only thing worthwhile that is left.”
I was stunned.
My brother, Doc John Zimmerman, visited a few months ago and during his stay, he questioned me about simple things like blood pressure, sugar levels, etc. Since I tend to ignore things medical, I didn’t know any of it. He persuaded me that “a man of my age” should have a thorough check-up – I grimaced at the aging remark but took his advice.
My GP did a blood fasting test and several thing were evident: most indicators were okay but he was not happy with the results my blood pressure, cholesterol and tinnitus (ringing in the ears). The cardiologist ran me around awhile measuring different parameters then prescribed blood pressure medication. There are a few more tests to be done but I still feel fine. However, I also request your prayers because I now have to make a few dietary adjustments and begin to exercise, which I loathe. Pat will be helping me and keeping a hawk eye on my pizza intake!
Our sons are well and working hard in South Carolina. We are thankful that they are making a foothold in a strange country – since they were all born and raised in Africa, America is foreign to them. We thank the Lord for His mercies in keeping them safe and providing work.
Again, our thanks for all your prayers and support.
Steve and Pat Zimmerman
S.A. Christian Mission, Cape Town