By Heidi Thulin
On Field Media
It is my desire to see Muslims reached for Christ,” George* says with a passion both encouraging and inspiring. He and his wife, Rebecca, were born in the Democratic Republic of Congo, found Jesus when they were teenagers, and have followed Him on an interesting road to missions.
After becoming a Christian in 1993, George attended an overnight prayer meeting where God pointed him to Isaiah 55:5: “Surely you will summon nations you know not, and nations that do not know you will hasten to you, because the Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel, for he has endowed you with splendor.” For George, this was confirmation that he was being called to missions, but he had no idea where that would lead him.
Shortly after that, George started working as a youth counselor in his hometown. Unfortunately, this was during a time of great instability in the eastern part of the DR Congo, and local religious figures didn’t approve of the way he and his colleagues were teaching the Bible. Before long, the religious figures told the military that George and his colleagues were rebels stirring up mischief in the area. But by God’s grace, one of the soldiers sent to kill them had pity on them and warned them to leave the country. “I had to leave behind Rebecca, my girlfriend of four years,” George recalls. “But we promised that every Friday we would pray and fast for one another. I did not see her again for five years.”
Unrest in George’s hometown in the Democratic Repulic of Congo forced him to flee for his life and live in two different refugee camps in two different countries.
The next step in George’s journey brought him to Tanzania. Because he didn’t have enough funds to study at a Bible college there and because he fled with a Congolese passport, a Tanzanian official sent him to a refugee camp in Kigoma. It was a very trying time in George’s life. “When I first arrived,” he remembers, “I was given a [machete] to cut down trees for my own shelter. It was difficult to stay in this house as it was easily destroyed by rain. Also, there wasn’t enough food in the camp. Five of us men would put our food together to make it stretch further.”
Three hard months later, George met a Congolese woman and her family in the same camp. They deeply desired to go to Mozambique, and George decided to travel with them, assisting with her children along the way.
It took ten days to reach the Mozambique border, where officials helped them get to the government office in Nampula. George’s next home was in yet another refugee camp. Again, life was very hard. Most of the people tried to get resettled in places like Canada or the U.S.A., but George kept thinking about God’s calling for him and about his much-loved Rebecca back in Congo. Regularly, he’d walk into the bush to meditate and pray, asking God to show him what to do. “I wanted to leave the camp and serve God wherever he might lead me,” George says. “But God inspired me to stay there and to start a counselling ministry, assisted by two other Christians, to help the neediest people in the camp.”
And so, for the four years George lived in Maratane refugee camp, he discipled believers in the camp and started reaching out to the Makua people group outside the camp. “My motto was to share Christ in both words and deeds,” George says. “I used to divide my monthly food into two, eat half of it, and share the other half with needy people within the camp and among the Makua.”
All during this time, George and Rebecca had been faithfully sending letters to each other and praying for God to allow them to someday be together. One day, as George walked to the post office, he intersected with some American missionaries who were touched by his story and wanted to help him fulfill his dream of going to mission school. Suddenly and miraculously, George had a sponsor to send him to Scott Theological College in Machakos, Kenya. But there was something important he needed to do first. “I traveled back to Congo for three weeks,” he says with a smile, “where, after five years apart, Rebecca and I were finally married.”
Together, the newlyweds traveled to Kenya to start their new life. At Scott Theological College, George earned his undergraduate degree in theology and intercultural studies, and their first two daughters joined the family. While at the school, a fellow classmate, a Tanzanian committed to leading a new Training in Ministry Outreach (TIMO) team in a village on the northern coast of his country, asked them to serve alongside him. They excitedly agreed.
In their small Tanzanian village, they spent two and half years serving on a cross-cultural team. There, they welcomed their third daughter into the family and learned new ways to live out and share their faith. “TIMO was a good experience for me,” Rebecca says, “because it exposed me to Muslims for the first time. I made friends with ladies in the village, and I was able to share my faith with them. And I now had a burden of praying for them. ‘O Lord, they really need you. Please reveal yourself to them. Let my life just speak to them.’”
Our prayer is found in Romans 15:20, which says, ‘My ambition has always been to preach the Good News where the name of Christ has never been heard.’ When I hear this verse, it encourages me to not see where the gospel is reached, but to focus on the unreached people groups. How can I be a part of [the work of] those who are reaching out to the Muslims?
After TIMO, their hearts were forever changed. In 2015, George, Rebecca, and their children moved back to Kenya where George attended Africa International University to earn a master’s degree in Missions with Islamic Emphasis. Rebecca also took the opportunity to further her studies and received a master’s degree in Education. And as they’d always done, they prayed fervently for God’s guidance and were open to wherever God would lead them.
“Our prayer is found in Romans 15:20,” George remarks. “’My ambition has always been to preach the Good News where the name of Christ has never been heard.’ When I hear this verse, it encourages me to not see where the gospel is reached, but to focus on the unreached people groups. How can I be a part of [the work of] those who are reaching out to the Muslims?”
This question and desire brought them to AIM’s Northern Region Office. “In the northern regions of Africa, we have more than 90% Muslims,” George says. “My work focuses on establishing teams of missionaries who will reach out to those unreached people groups.” He and his colleagues travel the northern parts of the continent, searching the difficult places for opportunities to send outreach teams. He helps establish relationships in the new communities and paves the way for Christian workers to live and succeed in a foreign country. “It is my joy to see Muslims who are not yet reached with the gospel to be reached,” he explains.
Back in Kenya, Rebecca diligently works to create a home that is a welcoming and safe environment for cross-cultural workers to rest and recover. “Pray for us to be an encouragement to the workers in the frontline ministries,” she requests.
“In a cross-cultural ministry,” George adds, “especially among Muslims, prayer is very important, because we are facing spiritual warfare all the time… In our office, what we do is very touching. We have one hour of prayer every morning to pray specifically for the unreached people groups in north Africa and for the people who are serving there and bringing the gospel to them.”
What George, Rebecca, and the entire Northern Region office is trying to do in north Africa is a huge task, but they are undeterred. “We continue praying,” George says, “because we know that nothing is impossible with God. It is His work, and He is the one who is doing it. We are just His vessels, obeying and joining Him in what He is doing.”
George and Rebecca have a heart for reaching the Muslims of northern Africa. They work to establish outreach teams within those difficult-to-reach places and offer encouragement to the Christians who call those places home.
*Names have been changed