n613630533_2923824_6847Nate, Dave, and Mike will be traveling to the Democratic Republic of the Congo this summer for an amazing chance to help further the current missions and relief efforts there for the orphans and widows as well as identify specific needs for future teams that will follow behind us in the future. We will be going with GlobalFingerprints, –an organization dedicated to helping the vast number of orphans left behind from the fighting and AIDS epidemic– and also the EFCA (Evangelical Free Church of America).

This is where we will be spending most of our time and also at Tandala Hospital, which is a two hour drive to the west. We will fly into Bangui (Bang-gwee) in the Central African Republic from Paris France and then go across the border river in dugout canoes then get into trucks and take a 150 mile drive which takes around 10 hours there.

Some quick history/facts on the Congo: the country was named the Belgian Congo in 1908, and after WWII in 1960, they negotiated their independence and became the Democratic Republic of the Congo. In 1971, during an “Africanization” campaign it was renamed to Zaire, after the Portuguese name for the Congo River. Finally, in 1997 it was changed back again to the Democratic Republic of the Congo. There are far more than 200 languages and distinct ethnic groups throughout the DRC, there are 18 in the area we will be in. (These include the Hutu, Tutsi, Pygmy, Nilo-Saharan) There are almost 60 million people living in the DRC, almost half are under the age of 15! Food staples there are cassava, rise, potatoes, bananas, yams, beans, corn, fish, peanuts, and various fruits and vegetables including coconuts and mangoes. The infant mortality rate there is right at the 10% mark while life expectancy is at 40 years for males, 42 for females. The average annual income is $100. Yep, just 100 bucks/year. As of 2006, there were more than 13,000 UN troops stationed in Congo. Vast mineral deposits and other resources make Congo potentially one of the richest nations in Africa, but this remains untapped and even lost.

So, why are we going? One of my primary tasks on our team of around six will be to photograph and film the conditions, culture, needs and current work being done there to be used nationally to promote the project there and raise awareness and commitment of other churches to come along side and help with the needs of the Congolese people. Also, Nate and Mike will be helping teach a class in basic photography so that they will be able provide material themselves after we have left. (For example, to photograph orphans to be sponsored) Because they have asked for our help, our purpose as a team—in addition to serving the church by witness and teaching—is primarily to scout out how we as a Church can come alongside the Congo churches to help. Our objective is not to give financial support to the needs, but to equip the widows, church workers and orphans to support themselves. There are about 700 orphans in the area we are going into and none are tested for HIV, but loved equally and those that are able, attend schools where there are no text books, no computers, and only minimal material. We will be working directly with these children and widows in this area. Habitat for Humanity used to be established in the area, but had decided to pull out of the country altogether; some of the land and buildings they left behind were left to the church. Some of this land is being n14818586_38763554_29331used to help meet the needs of the people there. For the widows, to work on agriculture and help them provide for themselves and have a source of income as well. For the orphans, give them training in a trade; wood working, brick making with a kiln they have on site, making soap, and making t-shirts.

The situation in Congo is very desperate and surprisingly, the Congo is the second most underdeveloped and remote country in the world. (Second to Papua New Guinea) The vast majority of the cost for my trip is for transportation because of this; it just takes a lot more to get anywhere there and there is only one flight in a week to Bangui where we are flying into. AID’s also has been a growing curse, and so has civil war, which continues in the eastern part of the country to this day. To share with you how devastating these have been on the Congolese, consider this: a church in Congo with 150 people: 60 of those 150 would be widows, their husbands being lost to AIDs or the war. In addition, 25 orphans would be present, and 5 more would be handicapped. In other words, 90 of the 150 would have great needs. The numbers are mind-boggling, and the churches in the Congo are overwhelmed with these burdens. The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization reports that about 70 percent of the DRC’s population is experiencing food shortages, and malnutrition rates are continuing to climb. The following link has pictures taken from the Congo this February and accurately depicts the situation there now and the result of what is left in the wake of war and disease. http://www.boston.com/bigpicture/2009/02/portraits_from_the_congo.html

The general conditions we will be going into are very primitive. There is no electricity, no running water, sewer, or any amenities we are so comfortable with here. If we want to take a shower, we get two buckets of water, one to get wet with, one to rinse with, and those buckets have been carried on someone’s head over a half mile. And yes… we are brining deodorant! Part of our expense is to run a generator from 6pm-9pm each night so we have three hours to recharge batteries or other equipment. At three degrees north of the Equator, the climate there is hot and humid. Being in a jungle, it has typical rain forest weather including rain three days a week. Luckily, we are going in their winter so temps should only be in the 80’s during the day. n613630533_2923974_2233

As a team, we have already begun meeting and part of my responsibility as a team member is to find people who will pray for us? We will have no eternal impact without your prayers. Would you be willing to pray for us as a team? We also must each raise  funds of $5,200. (The cost is especially high because transportation to this 2nd most remote country in the world is close to $3,700). The Visa’s are around $300-$400, and transportation from Bangui to Tandala/Gemena is around $400 alone. Vaccinations are also expensive. This will cover my airfare, room and board, travel in Congo (Tandala), translators, training expenses and ministry materials. I need a team of people who are willing to share in this ministry by helping me to go. Would you be willing to be part of this team? If God should lead you to be involved in our ministry in either of these ways this year, would you please go to http://www.mikenyff.com/2009/05/donations-greatly-accepted-here/

We are also taking 2 suitcases with us so we can leave one there with them to use for storage. Room and availability permitting, I will try and bring back what I can as a token of my gratitude for your support. We are also creating a special DVD presentation of all the projects people in the the U.S. are funding to show you what is happening over there! Please send an email with your home address if you would like this DVD!

Thank you so much for checking out our blog, God Bless!

Team to Congo 2009

Pastor Dave Oldham –

Michael Nyffeler –

Nate Miles –


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