Four-year-old Katungu watched as her mother’s coffin was lowered into the ground. Death was a part of life in the village where Katungu and her family lived. And so was separation. Her father couldn’t care for his 12 children, so family members and neighbors took them into their homes.
Katungu lived with two of her older brothers. She rarely saw her other siblings. She helped her brothers by carrying water and finding wood to cook with. Then, when she was 10 yeas old, Katungu’s life took a new turn.
Adventist neighbors offered to take Katungu into their home and help her attend school. They didn’t have much money, but they would do all they could to raise this little girl. Katungu’s brothers knew that they could not provide an education for their sister, so they accepted the neighbors’ offer.
Katungu’s new family had three young children, so Katungu helped care for them. In addition she carried firewood and water for cooking and washing and did other household chores to help the family. In return she received a home in a caring family and financial help to attend school.
Katungu’s parents had not been religious. However, her new family took her to church with them on Sabbath, told her Bible stories, and taught her to pray. Soon she fell in love with Jesus and learned that she could trust in God to lead her and provide for her.
When her new family suffered financial hardships, Katungu worked harder to help pay her own school fees. She cut wood and carried it to the village marketplace, where she stayed until she sold it. She used the money to pay her school fees. But when that wasn’t enough, she cut more wood to sell. When she couldn’t earn enough to pay her school fees, she stayed out of school for a year in order to work and pay her school fees.
Many times it was tough to see her friends walking to school, to hear them talking about their classes. But instead of becoming discouraged, Katungu turned to God. She prayed that God would give her the strength and the faith that she needed to keep going and not to give up. And God rewarded her. She graduated from tenth grade, the end of high school, at age 22.
But instead of celebrating, Katungu continued working. She had a dream, a dream that she knew God had given her. She wanted to attend university and become a teacher. She had no money, but Katungu wasn’t discouraged. That had never stopped her in the past. God would help her, as He had helped her through high school. Her adopted mother encouraged her to follow God’s leading.
One day a woman visited Katungu’s home. She told Katungu about Lukanga Adventist University. Katungu knew that God was calling her to study there. The university couldn’t offer her a scholarship, but they offered her work opportunities to pay her way.
Katungu traveled to the university and began working to earn her tuition. She awoke early and worked until late cleaning classrooms and offices. She washed others’ clothes and planted a garden for living expenses. After months of hard work Katungu had enough money to enroll in classes. Even while she attends classes she continues to work so she can hasten the day when God fulfills her dream of becoming a teacher.
Everything Katungu does is bathed in prayer. “Prayer is the foundation of a Christian’s life, the secret weapon of every Christian,” Katungu says. She has prayed for years for her brothers and sisters, who are scattered in several villages near their birthplace. She has seen them occasionally and faithfully shares her faith with them. Some listen and others don’t, but still she prays for them.
Despite the hardships she has endured, Katungu is sure that God is leading her. “God doesn’t promise an easy life,’ she adds. “But I know He has led me this far and will continue to lead me in the future. I am thankful for the family who introduced me to Jesus, for the opportunity for an education, and for Lukanga Adventist University, where God is giving me wings. I feel I could fly!”
Part of this quarter’s Thirteenth Sabbath Offering will help provide a classroom block for Lukanga Adventist University so that more students can prepare for God’s service. Thank you for giving young people in the Congo an opportunity to fulfill God’s vision for them.