Jay and Beverly Bellamy

A Family With a Mission: Reaching Vili Families

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We must never forget August 2021. It’s certain that many Vili will not. It was a month in which we saw God’s hand at work changing destinies.

It is amazing to realize that it was exactly five years ago, in August 2016, that our team made its initial foray into the villages of Madingo-Kayes [kayes rhymes with ‘pie’]. On that trip, many Vili heard God’s voice through the stories from His Word that Willy and Davy shared in the Vili language. We will always remember the dramatic impact this had in opening many hearts to God. On that trip, God spoke to Willy and Davey and told them he was giving them the village of Youbi. Now there is a permanent orality center there, which serves as a base for our orality missions team and a training center where villagers from that region can come to learn and to encounter Christ.
God has done much during these past five years. Several of those who initially responded, as well as Davy, our first Vili-speaking missionary, are now worshipping around God’s throne. Since then, many others have heard and responded, and God has added to our team.

Firmin and Veronique Leboubou, a deacon and deaconess in one of our churches, had been wondering how God could use them. In the past five years they have become, for the Madingo-Kayes region, the faces of our orality missions movement called A.P.H. (Alliance des Porteurs de l’Histoire means Alliance of Story-Bearers).

Veronique’s parents were both from this region and she spent the first 6 years of her life there. She has family scattered throughout the area as well as in Pointe-Noire. She speaks Vili as well as Lumbu, a closely related dialect. For many years, both Firmin and Veronique, though they had trusted in Christ for salvation, did not see how this could have any impact on their family. However, since encountering Christ through the Biblical narrative, the Leboubou’s lives have been turned upside-down. Their passion is now to bring their people to Christ, beginning with the Vili and extending to the rest of Congo. Their six children have embraced their call, and this summer, they all packed up to spend August in Youbi, sharing Jesus with the families of Madingo-Kayes.

It started with prayer…
Our spearhead team met the Saturday before their trip for prayer. We studied John 11, the story of Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead, and were led to pray for those Vili that were on the hearts of each of us, specifically that Christ would call them to life. After spending time in silent prayer, each team member prayed specifically for villagers who, despite having heard and enjoyed the stories, remained dead in their sin, unwilling to repent and follow the Lord.

Willy was the first to pray. He prayed for a young man who had been attending the story groups in the beginning, but unlike his brother, had been drifting away. Willy prayed that Christ would call him to new life in Christ and that he would come back to his family’s story group which Firmin would be working with this month.

Pastor Pierre prayed expressly for those Vili pastors in the sect called the “Zephirin.” The Zephirin (Seraphim) are thought by some outsiders to be a “non-evangelical protestant church,” but they blend many occult Vili traditions and pray to ancestors, spirits and angels. Their “pastors” purport to fight sorcery and fetishism with their own spiritual incantations and charms. They teach traditions such as a creation story, that is in direct contradiction to God’s Word. Many of our new believers were Zephirin, but when they first heard the stories, How God Created the World and The Rebellion of 1/3 of the Angels, in their own language, they believed and became followers of the true God. Nevertheless, they face constant harassment and social pressure to return to “the Vili Church.” Pierre prayed that these Zephirin pastors would be unable to seduce believers and that they, themselves, would encounter Christ.

Batchi prayed passionately for his family. His uncle, Moulele, is a believer and he and Batchi have shared their faith with their family, but none had yet given their lives to Christ. Batchi prayed that he would have the joy of welcoming new members of his family into God’s family.

Firmin prayed for Christ to orchestrate opportunities with several families to call them to make definite decisions for Christ. He especially prayed for the family of Honore of Sintou-Nkola and for Kamitou, the leader of the group in the village of Km4. Kamitou had been suffering from memory problems and was concerned that he would no longer be able to lead others. He would be talking and suddenly forget where he was and what he was saying. Firmin prayed for God to give new life to his mind.

Veronique prayed for the families of the women with whom she had been working. She especially prayed for Kambissi, who had given her life to Christ, but was reeling from grief over the loss of two children in the past year and had not been coming to meet with the others. Veronique prayed that she would come back and that she would experience healing.

Finally, Veronique prayed for her children. Last year, the two oldest had stayed in Pointe-Noire to keep an eye on their house and study. (Their courses had gone into the summer due to COVID). During this past year, Veronique has had the opportunity to speak with each one individually and they have all prayed to receive Christ as their Savior. Veronique prayed, “Lord, we are so blessed to be called to be missionaries for you. Please use this month to call my children to a life of that same joy.”

God’s abundant response . . .
The Leboubou family hadn’t even left for Youbi before we began to see these prayers answered. Willy came by on Monday to report that he had gotten a call from the young man he had prayed for. “ I was out in the forest on Saturday when suddenly I began to think about the stories,” he said. “I heard Jesus telling me to go home and listen to them. I turned around and went home and began to play the stories you left on the player. Then Jesus said, ’You need to make a decision about following me.’ I stopped the player and prayed. I asked Jesus to forgive my sins and make me his. Now, Pastor, what do I do?”

Willy told him that Firmin was on his way out to Youbi and he needed to go tell him what had happened and start meeting with him. Then Willy marveled, “After I hung up, I realized that Jesus called him at the same moment I was praying for him!”

Pierre’s prayer was answered when the leader of the local Zephirin group came to ask what sort of spell Firmin was casting over people that caused them to come and spend hours discussing stories. Firmin invited him to sit in and listen. Afterwards, the man asked where he got that story. Firmin explained that it was God who gave that story in his Word. “What do you tell people about where they came from?” he asked. The Zephirin pastor said that his own story was a blend of the Bible and stories from the ancestors. “Well, now you understand why our stories are more powerful,” replied Firmin. “We don’t add or change anything, because the true Story came directly from God, and it has the power to change hearts.”

During the month, Firmin met several times with Honoré, for whom he had prayed. Honoré said that it had been very hard because the team had not come often during COVID. “We can listen to the stories, but we need you to help us to understand. Your questions help us to hear what God is saying. While you were gone the Zephirin pastor came and told us to come back. I almost did, because I thought you were gone and he spoke beautifully, but when he started talking about praying to angels, I remembered the story of the Rebellion of the Angels and I realized that it would be a sin to go back.”

Early in the month, Firmin sent us news of Kamitou from Km4. It was Sunday and Firmin and Veronique had already stopped at two villages that morning to tell stories and worship. When they finally arrived in Km4, they worried about what they would find. Kamitou had been terribly despondent and having difficulty putting words together. Imagine their surprise to discover Kamitou leading more than a dozen children in a recitation of a Bible story! He was overjoyed to see them and he recorded a message to us praising God that his memory and ability to speak have been restored.

Firmin and Veronique spent most of their days on the road visiting with families, leading them as far as possible through the panorama of stories from Creation to Christ’s Ascension. They taught them ways to learn the stories and check with the recordings to make sure they had them correct. They made it a priority to point out that Christ and his plan to save them is visible in each story, but simply learning the story is not enough. They need to respond. As God provided a way for Adam and Eve, Cain and Abel, Noah and his family and the man with evil spirits to be saved from sin he has also provided it for them. He died and rose again to give them life, and he sent his disciples with his story so they would know Him, but they must turn to him and say “Yes.”
At the end of the month, Firmin sent us the list of families and the names of 23 new family members who had said “Yes.” Batchi was so thrilled that two of his cousins, children of his Uncle Moulele, were among them, that he begged our teammate, John, to take him and his wheelchair out to visit with them for a week. It was his first time back in the village in a long time and he thoroughly enjoyed fellowshipping and praying with his family members who are being called to new life by Jesus.

Veronique got her answer too. Kambissi, despite her grief at the loss of her two children, could not stay away. Veronique was able to assure her that while her little girl and boy would not come back, Jesus was caring for them because they had both prayed to receive Jesus last year. One day she will see them again because she belongs to Jesus too. He loves her and wants to be with her much more than her love for her children can help her imagine, and only he can heal her heart. By the end of the month, Kambissi was eagerly coming with the other women to hear more about Jesus.

Firmin and Veronique were thrilled to see God working through their children. Each evening, they met together as a family and each person, from Papa to little Bénicia answered the question, “What have you done for the Lord since this morning?” Besides taking care of the chores, including getting water and cleaning, they organized games and activities. Bénicia had the idea of digging four shallow holes, side by side. They played a game much like jacks with pebbles and palm nuts. Each hole represented a nest, and the two players took turns gathering their “babies” from the nests while catching the pebble. If the pebble dropped, it was the other player’s turn. The four holes allowed for 8 children to play a tournament. Soon many other children gathered around. Afterwards, they would relax with a story.

Prince, the third son, would spend the day with three of the village kids who had become his special friends. They taught him how to make traps to catch small game. While they were watching little birds, in the bushes he said, “Do you know who made the birds?” If they replied that it was God, he would ask them, “What day did God make the birds? How about the cane rats?”

Otniel, the next oldest son, went fishing with his friends. One day he came home with a huge carp. He presented it to the family. “Where did you get this?” Firmin asked. Otniel explained that his friends had helped him catch the fish as an offering to the Lord to feed the missionary family.
David, their oldest son, found some termite-eaten wood and arranged a bonfire. Firmin and Veronique came from their visits to find the kids gathered with their friends recounting and discussing stories.

During the month, Veronique’s uncle, head of the family, died in Pointe-Noire. While she mourned his loss, she was comforted by the fact that she had had the opportunity to share the Gospel and pray with him this past year.

Sadly, she and the children had to return to Pointe-Noire a week earlier than they had planned, but she took the opportunity to share Jesus’ love with her gathered family. She comforted and counseled her aunt, who has always been distrustful of Veronique. (Wives have a tenuous relationship with the husband’s family in Africa.)

When they had to come back early because their great uncle had passed away, the kids were very sad because they had not finished their mission. Firmin was able to return by motorcycle the week after the funeral, and Prince asked, “Can’t we go back? We want to serve the Lord there.”

It is too close to the beginning of school, though. The family has to spend their time gathering the resources and getting each of their six children enrolled. This year, schooling will cost $4950 for their children. While we cannot pay a salary to our Congolese missionary colleagues, we try to help them cover their schooling expenses. If you would like to help us help them, you can give to the project: Orality Team Children’s Assistance Congo. Your gifts to the project Vili Outreach and Development help to fund translation and village work, such as this past month’s trip.

Thank you for faithfully praying! Sometimes we see the answers dramatically, but if there's anything this past month shows, it is that God hears and answers every prayer.

In Him,

Jay and Beverly Bellamy

Prayer Requests/Answers to Prayer

Praise God for a fifth successful training for church volunteers for working at the Christian radio station. Pleas pray for several challenges that still lie ahead for the radio, We are in need of a team member with the technical and administrative expertise to help the radio become a self-sustaining ministry.

Pray for Firmin and Veronique and their children as they prepare for the new school year. Veronique will be co-teaching an orality-based discipleship training program with Beverly. Firmin and Pastor Willy will be participating in the training which will then be translated into Vili and simultaneously taught in the Villages.

Pray for health and protection for our national church pastors and their families. Several are struggling with health issues for which expensive treatment is necessary.

Pray for wisdom and resources as we launch "Hagar House," a shelter for widows and orphans in our church.

Congo

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Updated: September 25, 2021

Children's Names
BJ
Daniel
Lauren
Status
Home Assignment
Country of Service
Congo
Address
125 Cedar Ln
Laurel Springs, NJ 08021

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