Today we celebrate the imminent delivery of over twenty bicycles to the Regional Ministers and other leaders of Disciples parishes along the Tshuapa River. The aid and counsel of the PSP (“Pasteur Surveillant Principal” or Regional Minister) for the villagers and their parish catechist in this vast territory has been severely handicapped by the lack of transportation. Now, it is likely that the silvery tinkle of the bicycle bell will soon become a familiar sound in even the more remote villages.
It is appropriate that the bicycles will be distributed by Paul Williams, son of Disciple missionaries who served in the Tshuapa in the 1950’s. Church leaders continue to be inspired by the example of missionary church administrators who spent multiple days in the “bush” on tours of the fledgling village parishes. Williams’ son Paul, who is writing the history of the Disciples in Congo from the 1898 arrival to the present, reports from Mbandaka that he left June 24 on a journey that will take him to all the Disciple “posts” – Boende, Wema, Bokungu, Mondombe and Ikela – on the Tshuapa.
The Tshuapa River region presents a dramatic example of the Disciples’ critical role in providing health and education services. Go to the map found at the address below
and consider that between the towns of Boende and Ikela on the map, the Disciples headquarters in Mbandaka is solely responsible for overseeing and resourcing schools, hospitals and health clinics. There is a government sponsored hospital in Boende but no other government run health service for the Tshuapa’s people and the Roman Catholics, the dominant form of Christianity in Congo, are not present in this Region.
Paul Williams will celebrate his birthday in Mondombe perhaps with a visit to the hospital where he was born 58 years ago. No doubt his joy on the occasion will be immeasurably increased by his success in fund raising for the purchase of the bicycles. A Korean Presbyterian Church in Omaha, where Paul teaches at the University of Nebraska, gave the largest amount. Among the contributors was Paul’s office assistant who chipped in funds for one bicycle.