“Give all your worries to Him because He cares for you.” 1 Peter 5:7 (NLV)
Have you ever made plans thinking you were going in the direction God wanted you to go and then, suddenly, challenges surfaced everywhere and you wondered if you were really doing what God wanted?
This has happened to us so many times with the Cataract Surgery Mission we’ve had planned now for several years. It seems like “our plan” was quite different from God’s plan! For example, OUR plan was for the mission to take place in July 2016 only to discover that the political situation in Congo prohibited getting Visas for the medical team coming from the US. We truly struggled with needing to postpone that mission because already people had traveled hundreds of kilometers, many of them blind, for the mission and we had to postpone! The medications took many months to arrive by boat arriving AFTER the proposed date for the 2016 mission!
Both of us being a bit detail-conscious, we have struggled with these changes. There have been so many moments when we have had to quote Psalm 59:16 “But I will sing of your strength, in the morning I will sing of your love; for you are my fortress, my refuge in times of trouble.”
And God responds, “In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world” (John 16:33, NIV).
So, we planned the Cataract Mission for July 2017 believing this was now God’s plan. Last week a troubling email arrived this week from the US team signed up to conduct the Cataract Mission in July 2017. Many factors had led them to decide they could not travel to Congo this summer! Okay, Lord! Now what? Their hearts and our hearts are broken! What can we do?
After the immediate panic passed, we kept hearing God say “move forward”. We knew that the Congolese people possess the skills and professionalism to conduct the mission without clinicians from another country. But would we have sufficient staffing? Could we financially afford to provide the staff and all the travel and logistical challenges?
Well, God is good! A quick phone call to the Ophthalmology Director at St. Joseph’s University Hospital which specializes in ophthalmology in Kinshasa, resulted in an appointment for the following day! It’s typically very difficult to secure an appointment that quickly! Not only did we meet a surgeon who specializes in pediatric ophthalmology who is eager to join the mission team, but the Director also agreed to provide an additional surgeon, an anesthetist and whatever medical equipment and medications are needed! We believe this is God’s way of helping the Partnership turn over this mission and the future of providing eye care in Congo to the Congolese people! That has been our goal and now God is opening new doors to help this happen!!
God’s message was very clear:
We kept repeating the mantra used in some of the Congolese local churches here when the worship leader shouts, “God is good!” and the people respond, “all the time”. And the pastor says, “All the time” and the people shout, “God is good. That is God’s nature! Wow!!!”
So, what’s next? Pray! Please pray for all the challenges yet to be faced. So many of you have already generously given to this mission but now we need your support as the budget has now increased due to these changes. You may wonder that without paying for international travel how could the costs multiply? When Americans, and people from other countries travel to developing countries to participate as volunteers in mission, they pay their own expenses and donate their time which is often paid vacation or leave time. However, in Congo, when anyone leaves their current position to take part in a mission, their salary (which is much lower than in the US) stops during that time. Because the Partnership does not desire to jeopardize the lives of anyone financially, the Partnership provides a stipend for each clinician, as well as accommodations and transportation. So, we need to raise approximately $5,000 to cover all these expenses.
The medical team from the US already gave a generous donation to help with these additional expenses because they believe so deeply in our mission and want to be with us in Congo so badly. Thank you, Dr. Kris, Dr. Louie, and Pastor Charles! God is still using them.
Even with the additional expense, the cost for someone who is blind to have their sight restored through cataract surgery is $100!!! Compare that to the same procedure in the US! We encourage you to visit the Partnership website at www.Congo-Mission.org for information on how to submit donations.
Together, we are the Body of Christ! The next time you face a challenge, we hope our story will remind you that, through Christ, our difficulties are transformed into blessings!