“Teach me to do Your will, for You are my God; let Your good Spirit lead me into a level country and into the land of uprightness.” – Psalm 143:10
Dear Partners in Mission,
It is almost the end of the year 2018, and since we will be out of the DRC on December 13, traveling to the USA to participate in our daughter, Nicole Panzo’s, wedding, we wanted to say thank you to all of you for your prayers, donations of kindness and your thoughts that allowed us to survive on the ground. Also, we thank God, the sustainer and protector of our lives, He is the one who used each of you to be faithful and helpful in our mission in the DRC. With God and you, we were able to accomplish some tasks that we felt were impossible.
The year 2018 was very challenging and discouraging because of the political situation in the DRC; unrest, strikes, killings, and other situations that could have caused us to resign and return home. God was so good and present in the battle and through your prayers. Because of Him, we won the battle. The tough time was turned into a blessing. Here are some of this year’s accomplishments in our established programs:
Seminars. Men and women were blessed by trainings that helped them to discover their talents and in what capacity they can serve God. Some of the themes we reflected on were: men’s responsibility in a family, discipleship, empowering women to witness to the Gospel to other women, women standing for the construction of our homes, families, communities, churches and nation. Lately, we discussed the role of men as the head of the household. Many other topics were discussed that led the participants to discover Christ and accept Him as Master and Savior of their lives.
Church Development. The CELCCO (Community of Confessional Lutheran Churches in Congo) church built by natives struggled to develop and increase their attendance, but through motivation, training and seminars, the church of Boma, Matadi and Tshela had an attendance increase of 15% over previous years. Now in our theological faculty, we have over 35 Lutheran students who in three years will become leaders of the local church and on the national level.
Assistance to orphans, children in need and women in domestic violence situations. During 2018, we cared for 25 children who live at an orphanage owned by an individual who lacks the meanings to fully care for the children. We assisted by providing food three times a week. We also helped to feed and pay school tuition for ten children who live on the streets or in impoverished households. We counseled 45 women, many of whom are now out of the program with successful changes and the knowledge that Christ is their Provider, Protector and Savior.
Help to farmers. We find that farming plays a crucial role in helping families to generate income. In many of the small villages we visited, we noticed that women were often separated from men for farming. It was our job to show them that God is their provider. They must put Him at the center of their household, work and lives, praying together and sharing the Word of God with their children and through that any crops they may harvest will help their family and not just the men. We helped to provide tools and seeds. Today at least 40% of the families we are working with have already noticed a difference in their income and are able to feed and pay school tuitions for their children.
Theological training. In the initial days of the CELCCO, a lack of trained pastors with understandable theologies led the church to division. The way to strengthen the church was to only have trained pastors whose would be able to faithfully preach the Gospel. With that in mind, the theological school was created in the city of Tshela. The school still struggles financially to fulfill their goals. Besides my other duties, I was called to teach at that school, and I currently am serving as the general director. This year, 65 students are enrolled, of which 30 are finishing their associate degree and will be enrolled again next year, as we are projecting to introduce a bachelor’s level.
Visits. We were blessed by the visit of our brothers and sisters from the USA. Between the months of February and March, our son Enoque Panzo and his wife Anna Panzo visited us for two weeks. They visited to see where we live and the kind of mission that we are working on. While they were here, they spent time with the youth of the Confessional Lutheran Church and led seminars on how to become useful in the church and how to lead with a vision for the future. At the same time, we received Dr. William Obaga, WMPL associate director for Africa. His visit boosted the mission mindset of the church. We visited different projects, mission sites and the theological school. His visit also served as preparation for the visit of the WMPL general director, Rev. Dr. Paul Gossman. In the month of September, we received a visit from the Rev. Dr. Gossman and our colleague in Kenya, Gloria Sauk. Both came to learn what is happening on the west side of the DRC and to discover the tremendous opportunities for partnership between WMPL and the Confessional Lutheran Church. We also visited the city of Tshela, where the theological school exists and where the history of the church began. We visited the city of Kuakua, where Gloria is planning to promote a vision camp because of the high rate of blindness on the west side of the Kongo Central Province. We toured the city of Boma to visit some independent projects and organizations that are our partners. In Boma, it amazed our visitors to see that the roof of the church that was totally ripped off was replaced through help from our supporters in the USA. In summary, these visits brought a new perspective of cooperation and allowed us to together praise the name of our God and Lord, Jesus Christ.
Again, let us remind you that through God’s help and because of you and your faithful work, prayers and giving, all these programs were able to happen. Please continue to pray for the mission work in the DRC, pray for provision to help fulfill most of the needs of each program and pray for this country that is going through a presidential election. Finally, pray for our protection and provision to continue to stand firm on the ground.
Merry Christmas to all and blessed New Year!
Serafina & Didi Panzo
For more information or to connect with the Panzo Family, please visit: The Great Commission Society.