Lazare [lah-zah-REH] sat thinking, his chin resting on his fist. Some of his professors at the state university in Kinshasa, Congo, allowed him to miss classes on Sabbath and even reschedule exams. But other professors had never heard of Adventists, even though some 500 Adventists attended the 35,000-student university.
We’ve got to do something to be visible on campus, he thought. The Adventists students formed a student association and were granted permission to meet on campus. They chose leaders to meet with academic leaders to present their request for Sabbaths free as a group. They encouraged one another to speak to classmates about their faith.
But university students are busy; many work to help pay their school expenses. It isn’t easy to add another hour each week to study someone else’s religion or to pray together. The Adventist young people decided to visit every dormitory room, offering a pamphlet on God. With 11,000 students living on the campus, it was like visiting every home in a large village.
Several students confused the Adventists with a cult and didn’t want to listen to the students share their faith.
The Adventist students decided to hold evangelistic meetings and invited a pastor to lead out. They blanketed the campus with posters advertising the meetings. When the meetings began, the 7,000-seat amphitheater was almost packed. Teachers as well as students came. Some of the teachers had studied the Bible with the students before the meetings began. The Adventist students formed a choir to sing in the meetings.
The weeklong meetings covered topics such as the occult, a big issue among students and professors.
Following the meetings, four professors who had been involved in the occult brought their occult tools and books of magic to the pastor. Some 200 students and teachers asked to follow Christ.
Today Adventists are known at the university. Most faculty members no longer expect Adventists to attend classes or take exams on the Sabbath.
Students are praying for a chaplain to guide them and for training to help them share their faith more effectively in their university community. They pray too for funds to help them buy materials to share with others who are at an important juncture in their lives.
Sister Charlotte is a teacher and women’s ministries leader in western Congo. While working in one field, she felt a burden for the many women who couldn’t read or write in their own language.
As many as 70 percent of women living in villages can’t read or write. They can’t improve their family’s circumstances without these basic skills. Teaching women to read and write and to understand simple math makes a world of difference to families and entire villages. As women improve their own lives they can help their children prepare for a better life. They can read the Bible for themselves and lead their families closer to Christ.
Sister Charlotte organized literacy classes to help these women. A few men also asked to join the literacy classes. The classes were free of charge and met twice a week for a year. Class members were invited to a weekly worship service prepared just for them.
Fifty women and three men signed up for the first literacy class, most of whom were not Adventists. Classes met at the Adventist school, and Sister Charlotte used the school’s reading material as resources. She found willing volunteers to help.
Elise [eh-LEESE], one of the students, commented that she saw that Adventists truly care for the community because they offer such high quality training at no cost. Elise completed the literacy program and studied French as well.
While studying, Elise met Christ and joined the Adventist faith. Elise’s husband, a university graduate, was happy to see his wife learn to read and write. Eventually he too joined the Adventist Church. They are a happy, contented family today.
“As a teacher I have the skills to teach literacy,” Sister Charlotte says. “But many other women’s ministries leaders want to learn how to teach literacy too. This quarter part of our Thirteenth Sabbath Offering will help us build a lay training center where men and women can train to serve God in their communities and across the Congo. Thousands have not yet heard of God’s love and Christ’s sacrifice. We must tell them. Thank you for helping us help them to know Jesus loves them.”