Dear Friends of BESI / Radio Kahuzi,
It's almost Christmas, once again! When we all love to remember... and I remember Mama and Papa, Millie and Fred Bahler and those precious times of family and friends, and the good food and all the church celebrations: Celebrating the Coming of our Lord Jesus Christ as a Baby--to be the Savior of mankind!
As a missionary kid, being born and raised in the Belgian Congo (Zaire), Democratic Republic of the Congo, the precious memories flood back--of life with the lions, monkeys, elephants, water buffalo, and antelope, especially at Christmas time! Another precious thing about it all is that I have memories of Christmas times in America (in Denver & North Glenn) where we lived for seven years, during the War of Independence. I also remember the years of language training in Belgian with my parents and again in Brussels and Vevey, Switzerland, where Richard and I re-learned French; so I have three wonderful worlds to remember!
In America, there's always the 'problem' of what kind of meat to eat at that special Christmas Day celebration. Should we have turkey, or ham or duck or pigeon--and so many choices! Most of the time, here in Congo we had two choices, chicken or beef and sometimes goat.
Another exciting part was that, if an enraged elephant came on a rampage into the village, one's Daddy shot the rogue and voila, we had elephant meat for dinner! My mommy tried to cook the supposedly most tender part, (the trunk) but it was as tough as shoe leather. So I think our dad's quickly went hunting and brought back an antelope, which we normally ate for protein, most of the time anyway! It was always a great afternoon, watching the men carve up the meat and get it ready for the 'spit' barbecue, a big hole in the ground with charcoal, to roast the meat.
My memories of Christmas Eve are so precious, too. Usually, it would rain and what fun it was, getting the fireplace going, and sitting around the fire, roasting palm nuts, and eating home-made sweet rolls and bacon and eggs and lots of coffee! Also, we had Christmas music playing. Around midnight, the church folks would come and sing Christmas Carols and that was always very special!
For our Christmas tree, my daddy had a wire frame ready, and we'd go out and cut the branches from a sucker vine that grows on the palm trees and stick them into the wire frame; and it really did look like a Christmas tree. Then, just before dark, the (generator) light plant would be started up and the coffee pot would be ready, and just like magic, the tree lights would light up and the celebration of Christmas Eve would start. After supper, we'd read the Christmas Story from Luke, and Praise the Lord for another year of His Blessings and Grace!
Our most Memorable Christmas Season was December 16, 1972, when we were married by Pastor and Missionary Wayne Schoonover in Pastor Vern Schutz's Berean Church in Grand Rapids, Mi., and we began our deputation to come to the Congo. Richard and I THANK the LORD for ALL of YOU who became members of our extended family at that time–“Working Together with Christ.” Later, you shared in our Rejoicing when we arrived in Bukavu for Christmas Dinner with our parents, the Bahlers, on December 25,1975 to begin our ministry with them!
Years later on December 24,1992, the Lord began the first Christian Radio Network in the DRC with beautiful Christmas music and Christian programming on FM Stereo on Radio Kahuzi! There was no Short Wave transmitter until 2001.
Many of you were praying Christmas Day 2000, when Richard and Pastor Gregoire negotiated the Peace Treaty with the Mai Mai rebels after they had taken a third of the city of Bukavu. Two commandos and many of their nine hundred Mai Mai warriors exchanged their magic fetishes and superstition for Trust and Faith in our Lord Jesus Christ, returning to Fizi to build a Christian Church and share the Gospel as fellow-workers with Jesus Christ and Radio Kahuzi.
Thank you for your faithful prayers and support especially, this month. Our answer to prayer came as the Provincial Director of the National Radio and TV (RTNC) and many of their distant relay FM stations asked for permission to share Radio Kahuzi's Christmas programming and Christmas music in their broadcasts. Many of them contacted us when our Short Wave transmitter would not work. But three days later the red light cleared without any repairs, and we are back on the air as usual, and other FM stations relaying our programs and the RTNC news has called in to report 5/5 reception and rebroadcast of our signal through their FM stations!
Praise the Lord that He used the electric company's problem (less than 50 Hertz frequency) to reveal the existence of this relay network as we were unaware they were rebroadcasting our programs! This should lead to helpful future tax exonerations for Radio Kahuzi!
Have a Wonderful Christmas Season and a Blessed New Year in 2017!
Keep Looking Up!
We are looking for His Soon Appearing in the Heavenlies!!
Richard and Kathy McDonald