Unexpected Grace

Grace Shim, Executive Minister of Serve Globally, visited the Covenant Church of Congo for the first time in March 2023, along with Renée Hale, Josef Rasheed, and Jamal Rasheed. Photos taken by Jamal. Grace shares her experience.

My first trip to the CEUM and global personnel in Congo is best described as “unexpected” — moments of wonder at the surprising ways I so clearly witnessed God’s generosity, perseverance, and joy through his people.

As our tiny plane landed in Karawa, we stepped out into a sea of people lining the grass field to welcome us with eager smiles and handshakes. This generous hospitality was part of every outing marked by singing, dancing, food, and words of honor and greeting. In a leaders’ gathering, President Duale invited me to kneel as they laid hands on me to anoint me in prayer as a new leader. I tearfully received their outpouring of unexpected powerful blessings and generosity. A moment I will not forget.

The Congolese medical staff gave us a tour of the hospital facilities with patient-filled beds, outdated equipment, and people with needs that outweighed available resources. Child malnutrition and maternal health are dire issues. Yet, the staff each shared about the blessing of providing care to those who have nowhere else to turn. This enables the doctors and nurses to persevere amidst very limited resources. An unexpected lesson in how people are able to do so much with so little.

On Sunday, we stopped at a village on the way to Gemena where we were honored guests at the dedication service of a new church building. Thousands of people sang and danced as they led us into the sanctuary bursting with joy and celebration. Life in Congo is not easy; poverty is evident and unjust. Yet, joy seems to triumph in the hope of eternity. This is not circumstantial joy but unexpected joy that rises above what isn’t and anchored in God’s promises and salvation.

These are only some of the ways God revealed himself through sisters and brothers whose life and culture are so different from mine. What a privilege for Paul Carlson Partnership and Serve Globally to be able to join what God is doing in the church and communities in partnership with the CEUM. We have much to learn about generous faith, sacrifice, and joy from the global church for our own transformation — often in places and ways that are unexpected.

Welcomed to Congo.
Grace visited patients in the new Karawa Maternity Ward.
CEUM leaders prayed over Grace.
Honored guests at the dedication service of a new church building.
Posted in Congo travel, News, PCP Update, Personal Stories.

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