Dear Friends and Family Greetings in the precious and wonderful Name of our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ!
"I pray that you may enjoy good health and that all may go well with you, even as your soul is getting along well." 3 John 1:2
This Africa Overland Mission has successfully been completed after 7 months. We have travelled 29,000km, crossed 14 international borders, travelled through and ministered in 12 countries, conducted more than 390 meetings, and distributed almost 3 tonnes of Gospel literature and Discipleship training material including Bibles, tracts, books, audio CDs, DVDs, posters, and MegaVoice solar-charged audio Bibles.
Last time you may have heard from us, we were just about to head into the Democratic Republic of Congo for an incredible ministry opportunity.
Democratic Republic of Congo
The Democratic Republic of Congo is located in Central Africa. It is the largest country in Sub-Saharan Africa and with a population of over 75 million, the DRC is the fourth most populous nation in Africa.
It also has the second-highest population of Christians in Africa, making up about 95% of the population, although 50% are Catholics. Evangelicals make up about 20% of the population.
Corruption has devastated this rich and fertile land and has frightened away potential tourists and investors. Whilst doing ministry in Western Uganda and in Rwanda, I continually heard reports about rebel groups in neighbouring DRC, seeking to take over the town of Goma in North Kivu, Eastern DRC. Some of our missionary colleagues and friends consistently and persistently warned us not to enter the DRC with our own vehicle for fear that it would be lost to corruption, or commandeered by rebels.
Abandoning our RigSo accepting the advice and warnings given, we found a safe place to store our rig (truck and trailer) in Burundi, packed our survival bags, and headed for the ominous DRC. It would be the first time that we were to be away from our rig for an extended period of time, and I was anxious that we pack our gear-bags in such a way that we would be prepared for any unforeseen, sinister circumstances.
What a blessed time of ministry we had with the El-Shaddai church in DRC! This is a vibrant and growing church with a vision and passion for Evangelism, and for extending the Kingdom of God. This church has a regular outreach programme where they go out into the community and share the love of Jesus to their neighbours. They run a discipleship programme every morning in the church between 06h00 and 07h00, to teach new believers foundational doctrines of the Faith. We were privileged to conduct a Great Commission Seminar at this church, teaching these eager Christians the effective techniques of The Way of the Master, as they attentively took in all we had to share with them.
Workers for the Harvest
As you can probably imagine, in a church like this, it would not be all its members that are consistently getting involved in Evangelism and reaching out to their neighbours, but only a core group of individuals. It was the desire of the pastor of this church, to get his whole church involved in the outreaches and this was one of the goals of our visit to his church.
Many of those who were not getting involved in the outreach team admitted that this was due to the fact that they were afraid, nervous, anxious, and apprehensive. After each day of lectures, presentations and teachings, we all went on outreaches in the afternoons to give these timid evangelists an opportunity to exercise their faith. After each outreach, we had a feedback session where folk could share how the outreach went. It was incredibly encouraging to us, to hear the testimonies of some of these reluctant Christians, who had once been crippled by fear but now have been emboldened by faith and courage through the Power of the Gospel, joyfully sharing how God had helped them to boldly approach strangers and speak to them about the Love of God through Jesus Christ!
Pray for DRC
Pray that the illegal forces would be disarmed and disbanded. These are personal armies of dangerous warlords, which inflict terror on innocent and helpless citizens who live far from the limited safety of government, or international forces. Some of these rebel armies include Lord's Resistance Army, Simba, Mai-Mai, and many others. Pray for these men to be convicted and disheartened with this life of violence and for those continuing to commit such violence to be stopped. Pray also for the Church to stand strong and be a positive influence in this land of corruption and confusion.
"The Christian Church is an essential entity for rebuilding the DRC. It remains the only viable national social structure to survive and retain some credibility. Its role in rebuilding the country is crucial. Most hospitals, clinics and schools now operate with Christian initiative. Pray for Christian leaders of spiritual maturity and moral integrity to be raised up for ministry, both in the Church and in society." - Operation World
We travelled through Burundi on the western side down from Rwanda. Burundi is a mountainous, fertile country on the northeast shore of Lake Tanganyika, south of Rwanda, and wedged between Tanzania on the east and DRC on the west. Burundi, like Rwanda, has a sad and violent history between the Tutsi and Hutu tribes which resulted in a nasty war in 1994. The situation is much better now between the two tribes.
About 90% of the population call themselves Christians of which 60% are Catholic and 30% are Evangelicals.
The Cries of a Child
After our ministry in DRC, we were very happy to get back to our rig, which is our home away from home. We then drove up into the hills which surround Bujumbura, the Capital of Burundi, where we visited some missionaries from America who are running an orphanage called The Cries of a Child. This is a very well run Faith project and is making a great impact in the community. They started six years ago with very little, but God has provided amazingly for their needs and today they have 2 homes caring for more than 16 children. They are currently building a clinic to provide for the health needs of the community.
"Dr. Livingstone, I presume?"
From Burundi we travelled down to Kigoma, Tanzania the famous site of Ujiji where Stanley uttered the legendary words: "Dr. Livingstone, I presume?" when he met David Livingstone for the first time in October 1871.
Crossing into Zambia from Tanzania was the most difficult border crossing that I have yet encountered. Besides the fact that it is a very busy commercial border, the Zambia border control requires more payments (at different offices, with long queues) than any other border I have yet crossed, as well as having the most expensive fees!
David Livingstone Memorial
Safely into Zambia after a four-hour border crossing, we headed for Chitambo's Village where Dr. David Livingstone died. It was a humbling and awe-inspiring moment for me to be standing in the place where this great Missionary came to his final earthly rest. There are two monuments, one where he was found breathless and without life, kneeling over his Bible in a posture of prayer, and the other, under a tree, where his heart is buried.
"People talk of the sacrifice I have made in spending so much of my life in Africa. Can that be called a sacrifice which is simply paid back as a small part of a great debt owing to our God, which we can never repay? It is emphatically no sacrifice. Say rather it is a privilege." - Dr. David Livingstone
In the town of Livingstone we met up with our fellow Missionary colleagues and together we made further preparations for the Livingstone 200 Missions Conference that will be held on 13 - 18 November 2013. We also went to view the awe-inspiring Victoria Falls, which at this time of year is in low season, so we did not get to see its majestic rushing of water, nor hear the roar of this thunderous spectacle. With the rainy season about to start, hopefully by mid-November, when we return for the Livingstone 200 Missions Conference, there will be more excitement in this impressive waterfall.
We had a few days to spare whilst waiting for a ministry opportunity to materialize, so we took the occasion to visit a game reserve in the Caprivi. There is a magnificent wealth of wildlife in this area and we got to see many elephants, impala, kudu, zebra, wildebeest, giraffe, hippos, and crocodiles, among many other animals. It was a privilege for me to spend this time together with my wife - it was like another honeymoon. We spent three nights in this game reserve in a tent as Dr. David Livingstone may have experienced it, with the sounds of wild animals of the night surrounding our flimsy tent - lion's roaring, elephants trumpeting, rumbling and breaking through nearby bushes, hippos grunting, and hyenas laughing… this all made for tense, prayerful dreams.
In Windhoek on Kanaal 7 Radio, we had the privilege of being invited for an interview about our almost completed Africa Overland Mission. This was a good opportunity to encourage the listeners to be more mission-minded and encourage them to consider participating in the Great Commission Course in January next year.
Due to the fact that one of our ministry opportunities in Namibia had not worked out, we were a few days ahead of schedule and would arrive at the Mission headquarters in Cape Town, earlier than expected. I decided not to inform the office of this change, but to surprise them. It gave me immense pleasure to see the confused smiles on their faces as we arrived back home, three days ahead of schedule. It is good to be back with our family and friends.
This Africa Overland Mission would not have been a success if it were not for you. Thank you to each one of you who supported us through prayer and financial support. Thank you for keeping in touch with us and encouraging us as we travelled through, sometimes, difficult situations.
"Happy are you, (put your name here)! Who is like you, a people saved by the Lord, the shield of your help and the sword of your majesty! Your enemies shall submit to you, and you shall tread down their high places." Deuteronomy 33:29
Pictures and Videos
Although I will compile an Africa Overland Mission Report with pictures, I do encourage you to visit our Watson’s Missions Facebook Page where we are still adding photos regularly and will soon add some videos. Hint: If you like our page, you will be notified each time we post a picture, or video.
May God richly bless you and keep you safe in His strong hands.
In His service - and loving it!
Michael and Renee Watson
Missionary Field Worker
P.O. Box 74 Newlands 7725
Cape Town South Africa