Luozi is beautifully located by the Congo River. It’s really nice and quiet, lovely nature. The buildings were built by a Portuguese business man and were later bought by the CEC in the 1960’s. This is the administrative centre of the CEC. After breakfast we took the bus to church and got there at 10 o’clock. It is built in the same style as the Baobab Church with a pointed saddle roof. Just like in Matadi it took about 2 hours before everyone had arrived. The evangelist Kineka led the service. He was also the choir leader. Drums and other rhythmic instruments accompanied the singing. There is nothing wrong with being enthusiastic, people sang with their whole body plus played the instruments that many people brought. It was hard to sing in Kikongo and difficult to follow the lyrics in the hymn book. We, the mondeles, spared our throats and just enjoying the beautiful singing instead. We were introduced to the members of the church by getting up in front of everyone. There was enthusiastic cheering and lots of waving. Several choirs sang and they got up one after the other. It was beautiful to see the colorful Congolese and the singing was a real treat.
From the outside the sound experience was reinforced by an energetic rooster. He let himself be heard during almost the entire service. At 11.35 Bernt got up to preach with the help of the interpreter pastor Julienne Kukangisa. She studied in Sweden for 4 years. Bernt preached about how people and society can change. Choosing to say yes to Jesus can lead to big changes. It involves taking responsibility for each other. Julienne interpreted with her entire body and the congregation followed every word. The collection was lead by the church host. He made sure there was a steady stream moving past the collection boxes. Someone donated a bag of beans that which was auctioned off straight after the collection.
Outside the church Daniel came up to say hi. He wanted to show us his company. We followed him there in our car. He has a mechanical workshop with 25 employees. He started on a small scale. He produces machines for grinding and processing crops, corn, manioc and other products for people and animals. He was in the process of building a new workshop. He showed us a hatcher and he’s planning on starting chicken breeding and a chicken farm. We understood that this was a guy with visions; he had a lot of activities on the go and a will to change. At 15.00 we got to the office of CEC and listened to the vice chairman of the church, Lévy Matondo Balungisi. He greeted us as official guests of the church and told us about the church, happiness and sadness, successes and difficulties. “The church has 75 000 members, 90 congregations and 122 employees. It is constantly growing. We lack pastors and evangelists. A lot of people want to train to be pastors, but the church can’t afford it. The education is 3-5 years and costs $8000/year. 15 new evangelists have just started their training in Luozi. Gunnel and I are in charge of this training”, Lévy told us. “Within the church we also stimulate entrepreneurship. There is a savings association, and you become a member by lending it $35. There are 200 members and it’s possible to borrow up to $500. It’s paid back in 3 months and you also pay a small interest. INADES is the name of the organization that carries out the project for the church.”
After supper the five of us visited Robert Diyabanza in his home. It was a happy surprise to see such a beautiful villa in such attractive surroundings. He gets all his power from solar cells. He had both drawn and built the house. It took 4 years. He worked in the church for 12 years as a car mechanic, but got tired of the control from the top. He felt he didn’t get the chance to develop his ideas within the church. He wanted to build a mechanical workshop in Boma where there is high demand for such services and according to him it could have been good business for the church. He didn’t get the chance to develop this idea so he resigned from the church and started his own business – apparently he’s a successful entrepreneur. He both leases and has bought his own land. He owns land together with his extended family in Luozi, but he can’t use it because of traditional Congolese ideas of ownership and rights. Everything that is grown on this land belongs to the family and anyone in the family can harvest the fruit and vegetables without having invested in or worked on the fields. Other old traditions and customs are for example that if a man dies, the oldest brother of the wife has to take care of the children, and if anyone has any money it has to be shared with the whole family. Robert realizes what a hindrance these ideas are for a sound development and has disassociated himself from them. Robert has fruit plantations where he grows oranges, mangos, bananas and mandarins. Robert has 7 employees and the monthly salary is between $50-100. He also employs temporary workers. It feels good to get to know the Congolese soul by talking to Robert. We have also told him about our project. We asked him if we are going to succeed. You’ll succeed if the will is there. After an interesting evening at Robert’s place we walked home in the warm and pitch dark evening. We had given away all our torches (which seemed rather stupid this evening), but we started hearing thunder and soon lightening gave us some guidance. Just as we got inside the rain started pouring down. We kept hearing the thunder for about an hour.