Tuesday, November 20, 2012

"Soldiers had arrived...a day's travel from us..."

..typed my mom-in-law on gmail chat the other day as I sat in a Starbucks.  She had my rapt attention.  Over the years, I have pieced together stories of Sam's family's two evacuations from the war-torn Democratic Republic of Congo, but this was one of the first times I was hearing the story from start to finish on their 1997 evacuation. 

"Half the missionaries left in December, including one of the missionary doctors because he had many young daughters.  We moved from our village to Karawa where Josh and Sam were in boarding school so they could remain in school, as their dorm parents and some teachers were also leaving.  We kept having meetings, those of us who were left, and had a list of trip wires." 

"What are trip wires?", I asked. 

"Trip wires are if a certain thing happens, then you split", she continued.  "For instance, IF President Mobutu was killed in a coup d'état or IF General Kabila's rebel soldiers took over the town of Kisangani or IF the advancing army got too close.  Around February 7th, the advancing soldiers arrived in Bumba which was a day's travel from us down the river.  That did it.  We were about 25 people that had to get out.  We flew out by Mission Aviation Fellowship plane to Bangui (Central African Republic) and flew on to the United States.   The rebel soldiers roughed up the people in our various mission communities and put mines and grenades on the surrounding roads.  A dear Congolese friend of ours was in hiding in the rainforest when he encountered some Chadian soldiers and was bold enough to welcome them to our mission and we think that's why the Chadian general who inhabited our house after we left our village took pretty good care of it, unlike most other village's mission houses that were pillaged by the soldiers.   Many other friends of ours hid in the jungle for weeks and wouldn't venture out for fear of the soldiers.  The soldiers wiped out everything and stole everything.  The cattle were eaten, the donkeys, goats, chickens, guinea pigs, crops, everything.  People were afraid to go home or even venture out to their gardens.  They went hungry in the jungle....for weeks.  The war continued and we were unable to return permanently."

Sam's family evacuated from civil war in the D.R.C. both in 1991 and 1997.  Only Sam's dad, Roy, and brother, Josh, have been able to re-enter the country for short visits.  MAF played a major role in evacuating many to safety.

MAF continues to work in the Democratic Republic of Congo delivering the message of hope in Christ, goods, and medical relief to people trying to rebuild their lives after continuing devastation of civil war.
An MAF plane delivers medical supplies to combat a cholera epidemic in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
(Idaho Press Tribune)
Sam's brother, Josh, hesitantly checks him out shortly after birth in Congo.

Sam's "mokolo na libatisi", or day of baptism by his Congolese pastor.

Sam's parents, Roy and Aleta,  continue to work in the Central African Republic with Covenant World Mission.
Josh's wife, Kimia, and her family also evacuated the D.R.C. and she later led me to Christ in high school.


  1. Thank you for sharing this. God's faithfulness is very evident.

  2. This beautiful story of sadness and God's faithfulness in the midst always brings tears to my eyes. As rebels begin moving in Congo again this hits especially close to home. I am so thankful for the time I had in Congo, for the MAF pilots that flew us to safety, and for the people in this last picture. What a blessing the Danforth clan is <3