Saturday, February 16, 2008

Letter from the Harveys

This is the latest prayer letter from the Harveys. I won't say much as it speaks for itself.

Impfondo, February 12, 2008
"And he said unto them, I must preach the kingdom of God to other
cities also: for therefore am I sent." Luke 4:43
Dear Friends & Family,
We have so much to report, it's hard to know where to begin. In order to give you an accurate perspective of what's going on here, we'd have to write a new PrayerNet every day. It would be easier for you to come see for yourself, so until you are able to do so, you will have to settle for these glimpses of what God is doing here in Congo-Brazzaville.
Dr. William A. Mix
Many thanks to Bill Mix who came to fill in for Joe for a couple of weeks. Joe had fun learning how to sleep through the night again after 3 months on call. Thanks too to First Baptist Church North East for supporting Dr. Mix's long-awaited trip here. Another benefit: Bill's presence here enabled Joe to travel to Brazzaville in preparation for Pioneer Christian Hospital's Annual Meetings.
Short-term Missionaries Detained by Congo Immigration Police
An international incident occurred when Joe & Isabelle went to pick up Rev. Stan Key and Mr. Erich Rupprecht, Pharmacist Susan Lardner, and Nurse/Pharmacy Technician Mrs. Marion Thompson at the Maya Maya Airport in Brazzaville on January 14, 2008. All had valid US passports, visas from the Congolese Embassy in Washington, a letter of invitation, and certificate of yellow fever vaccination (i.e. their paperwork was in order).
After detaining our weary travelers for 5 hours without explanation, the colonel in charge of immigration locked their passports in his office and said we would have to spend the night in baggage claim. At midnight when they locked the doors with us inside, we thought of Paul & Silas in the Philippi Prison, and decided to pray and sing praises to our King. A number of our fellow prisoners and guards heard us and woke up. There wasn't any earthquake, but at a quarter to one AM, US Embassy personnel secured our provisional release, while the other detainees and immigration police went back to sleep.
Supposedly the problem was that we didn't get our visitors' letter of invitation stamped by the head of the State Security (Congo's equivalent of the KGB). When we went to the General Headquarters of the State Security first thing that morning, they told us they never heard of such a thing! Still, only after the intervention of three Colonels and two Generals (one in charge of the National Police, and the other in charge of the Army), were our visitors' passports returned, as we were boarding the plane for our flight to Impfondo!
Second Annual
Pioneer Christian Hospital
Executive Committee Meeting
Due to travel scheduling difficulties, not all of the PCH Executive Committee members were able to be in Impfondo at the same time, so we scrambled and made arrangements to hold the meeting at the SIL (Wycliffe Bible Translators) headquarters in Brazzaville on January 19 & 20, 2008. This made for a lot of logistical work, but in the end things worked out surprisingly well...almost as if things were proceeding according to a divine plan.
On Friday, January 18, Joe, Pastor Stan, Erich, and Noah were on hand when pre-med student Jason Zimmermann, and Dr. John & Judy Look (Director of Global Health Services Division) arrived as scheduled, while Rev. Brian Albrecht, President of Global Outreach Mission, got delayed and rerouted. In the end, President Albrecht arrived an hour after the meeting was scheduled to begin (instead of the night before, and several days before his suitcase and garment bag).
During our meetings, two new members were elected to serve on the committee which meets yearly to provide accountability, oversight, and advice to the hospital leadership. The new members are Judge Isaac Locko (a retired justice of Congo's supreme court) and Rev. Charles Koumba (a Christian & Missionary Alliance Pastor and director of a local relief organization).
Among other agenda items, Joe presented his Annual Report for 2007, and Action Plan for 2008. Since President Albrecht wasn't the only one weary from traveling, we decided to divide the meeting into two days. At the end of the second day, Joe was reconfirmed as Medical Director of Pioneer Christian Hospital for another one-year term.
Helping the Church Respond to the
Growing HIV/AIDS Epidemic
After the executive committee meetings, Joe & Noah returned to Impfondo with President Albrecht, Dr. & Mrs. Look, and Jason Zimmermann, the same day Miss Melissa Cossette (a nurse from Quebec) and Miss Hanni Gruenig (a veteran nurse/midwife with Wycliffe Switzerland) arrived to prepare for and lead a week-long workshop in Lingala designed to train church leaders to lead their churches in a biblical response to HIV/AIDS. This workshop resulted in profound lifestyle and attitude changes in some of the participants. Melissa and Hanni plan to help others learn to teach the same material to others in the upcoming months. GOM/Congo missionaries Mrs. Marie Michel, and Siko & Delphine Bambemba also participated in the training, and we were all encouraged by the response.
Pioneer Christian Hosptial began treating HIV/AIDS patients with anti-retroviral therapy in December. There are still a lot of kinks to work out in this government-sponsored program. For starters, we'd like to be able to do our own CD4 and viral load testing, and have our own supply of medications for our patients, instead of having to pass all our orders & labs through the local health department.
The Kindambian Call
You may have heard of Doctors Without Borders, an international humanitarian organization that works in conflict & crisis areas to bring healthcare to those who would otherwise have little access to it. Since the last civil war in Congo-Brazzaville ended 3-4 years ago, Doctors Without Borders began planning to withdraw from Congo-Brazzaville, so as to focus their efforts on more active crisis areas like Sudan, Kenya, and Chad.
Doctors Without Borders has been running a hospital in the heart of the Pool Region for 5 years, in a place called Kindamba. The Pool Region used to be the bread and beef basket for all of Congo-Brazzaville. In fact, the Pool surrounds the capital Commune of Brazzaville on 3 sides. After years of conflict and neglect, the once vibrant District of Kindamba is now literally 6 hours of low-gear 4-wheel driving past the end of the road. Many houses still lie in ruins on the fertile hills, though an estimated 55,000 people have returned to the land to rebuild their lives. The Red Cross provided seed and hand tools, but people have no way to get their produce to market, and their once numerous livestock have long been eliminated by hungry warriors.
Doctors Without Borders has asked Global Outreach Mission to take over their integrated health care services (hospital and 6 clinics) in Kindamba. They are willing to hand over the tools (bases, vehicles, equipment, etc.) and skilled people (employees) we would need to make it possible for us to do so before they leave the country May 15, 2008. They have given us until February 22, 2008 to respond.
When Global Outreach Mission President Brian Albrecht heard this challenge, he modified his itinerary so he and Joe could travel with Doctors Without Borders to see their work in Kindamba. We were overwhelmed by the immensity of the task, the difficulty of working in such a remote place, but at the same time our hearts ached to see the intensity of the need. Unless somebody responds to Kindamba's appeal for help, the only hospital serving 55,000 people will be forced to shut down.
I believe God would have us say "Yes, we will do what we can to keep the hospital in Kindamba open, and even expand its impact by adding the spiritual component." In order to do so, we need one or two missionary couples to help us with this effort, and a budget of about $300,000 per year. God owns the cattle on a thousand hills. I think He cares about the 55 thousand people on a thousand hills where there are no longer any cattle. Please let us know right away if you can help us respond to this need, as we trust God to provide. In particular, we are looking for several large gifts or grants to confirm God's leading in this area, as well as an experienced administrative/logistical or medical missionary couple to provide oversight to the project.
I thought you were burning out ?
There are many ways how I can foresee taking on the new project in Kindamba will actually help, not hinder, the hospital ministry in Impfondo.
First of all, the base that Doctors Without Borders is willing to turn over to us in Brazzaville would not only be essential for keeping the hospital in Kindamba running, it would also be a huge help to Pioneer Christian Hospital in Impfondo. The base is close to the airport and downtown, has a good size warehouse and plenty of room for guests, and is well equipped with everything needed to support works in the interior. We have already exhausted our resource contacts in Brazzaville and this would greatly expand our logistical support base/capacity.
Second, the LORD has already been leading Gottfried and Marie Michel to serve as our business agent and hostess in Brazzaville when they return from furlough next year. They could leave for furlough in May with a clear vision of the place & ministry they would likely be returning to.
Third, Doctors Without Borders is a well-known, well-respected, effective and efficient international organization. They are willing to help us make sure the Congolese government grants us the same rights and privileges that they have in writing, which would serve to greatly clarify the legal status of Global Outreach Mission in this country. Working on our own, we haven't been able to do that since we first came to Congo in 1996. In essence, we would be grandfathered in to a number of agreements similar to ones we've already negotiated, but that have never been fully implemented (by the government) because we haven't had a full-time representative in Brazzaville.
I should mention that we have been up front with the Doctors Without Borders project leaders, and they understand that our primary goal as an Evangelical Mission is to share the Gospel. Our mission provides healthcare as a means to demonstrate God's love to those in need. Like Jesus we've come "to seek and to save that which was lost."
Fourth, we can envision there being an exchange of qualified medical personnel between the hospital at Kindamba and the Pioneer Christian Hospital in Impfondo. It could also provide much-needed change of scenery (ie refreshment) to missionaries in Impfondo, almost as a retreat. There is already a godly Christian Congolese doctor in place who would love to continue on there if we could provide the budget and support to keep the hospital open.
Fifth, our vision is to impact the health of a nation. Our plan in starting Pioneer Christian Hospital was that it would serve as a foundation for health care outreach in the Likouala and other areas of Congo. I can see this as God's way to accelerate that process. With a measured increase in administration and infrastructure we could be reaching twice as many people who are probably twice as needy. Once you have started 2 health centers and you have one mission hospital up and running, there is an economy of scale and experience that allows leveraged impact. Our ultimate goal has never been to start a mission hospital. Our goal is to impact the health of a nation in body, soul, and spirit. Our time on this earth is limited. If we don't move soon, our impact on this nation will be limited.
Sixth, we need God to increase our faith. We've asked God to multiply His harvest in this land. He wants exponential growth, not just growth by addition. Nothing lights my fire like a new challenge! I thought I was burning out, but maybe that was just the precursor to an explosion! Seriously, I haven't felt this excited about something since we first entertained the prospect of starting Pioneer Christian Hospital! We can really see God working in this opportunity, and we are ready as a family for Him to use us and even move us if need be! If we don't keep up momentum towards reaching the entire nation, the tendency for Pioneer Christian Hospital will become (and to some extent already has become) inward and self-serving. Instead of looking within ourselves, we need to look out and look up. The sky is no limit. Heaven is His throne, the earth is His footstool.
Thank you for standing with us in prayer...and remember that responses back to us before the February 22 deadline will help to confirm God's plan on this matter.
For Health & Hope,
Dr. Joseph & Rebecca Harvey
Olivia, Claire, Isabelle, & Noah
Serving at Congo's Pioneer Christian Hospital
in Impfondo, Republic of Congo (Brazzaville), Africa
with Global Outreach Mission
Field Address:
Hôpital Evangélique "Le Pionnier"
Republic of Congo (Brazzaville)

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