Nick Delport – My perspective on Bukavu

NICK DELPORT – GIVERS & TAKERS

new-building-front

The New Building – Front

nickIn 2014 I was approached by Gill Shiels, who asked me to consider project managing the building of the Bukavu Bible College (BBC). Gill, who was born in the Eastern part of Congo to missionary parents, visited Bukavu in 2010 and saw firsthand the desperate need of the churches in Congo, which is predominantly the need for teaching, especially for the pastors. She also saw the sad state of the existing Bible College and, after returning home, felt the Lord speaking to her to do something about it. This project to refurbish the college, sponsor students to attend and send out teachers to visit and input the college on a regular basis was then born. Gill is the first example of a Giver in this article. She has worked tirelessly over the last few years to raise finances and to liaise with other givers to organise the different aspects of the project.

Working in Africa is never easy and personally, I think that one of the more difficult countries to work in is the Democratic Republic of Congo due to the continual wars, lack of infrastructure and widespread corruption. So when Gill first asked me to support this project in Bukavu, a town in East DRC, near to the Rwanda border, an unknown area to me, I was hesitant. I would be alone, working with people I did not know, speaking a language I hardly knew and working in unfamiliar conditions.

However, after prayerful consideration, I could see the need for a building project manager and felt that it was right to support this worthwhile cause and so agreed to do so. I was prepared to give but didn’t think that I would be taking anything away with me in the end. I was wrong! After working in Bukavu for two months, I come away with some valuable lessons from this experience, from God and from my project partners. For this I am very grateful.

the-site

The Site

The city of Bukavu is very hilly and every inch of land is used. The original college has been in situ for many years in an area which is now heavily built up, with no real access to the site, making it impossible for larger vehicles to enter. Someone referred to this new build as ‘the building brought in by hand’ because EVERYTHING, every brick, stone, sand, gravel and roofing sheet has had to be physically carried to the site. Faced with this challenge, excuses could have been made, but, instead, the obstacles have been overcome. Limited access has not stopped the work from continuing.

cross-window-insideWhen the building is complete it will be like a lighthouse in that neighborhood. It has a cross shaped window in the middle of the front wall which when the lights are on inside will shine light far and wide. What a great project this is!

The man “on the ground” in Bukavu is Boniface Malanda, the Principal of the Bible College. Boniface, now in his early 70s, has faithfully served God for many years. Of late he has not been able to take residential students because of the lack of accommodation. Boniface is definitely a Giver. He is a man of God in the true sense of the word. He has given of himself for the work of God in that area for many years and is still pouring his life into the work. He was there every day translating and helping the project in any way he could. He came and picked me up from my accommodation each day and took me back at the end of the day and in all he did he never complained about anything. He is an exceptional man and the college is in very safe hands. I am grateful for his assistance throughout the project, both to Gill and to me. His knowledge of English, together with my limited knowledge of French, has meant that communication has not been an issue – another lesson for me to trust God in every situation.

Not long after arriving in Bukavu, I realised that God was the real Project Manager here, not me, and that He was in control of every detail! I had gone to Bukavu with real concerns about working with a team of unknown people. Would we be able to communicate? Would they try to fleece me because I am a foreigner? Would they be competent for the job? The selection of a competent builder and his team was crucial. While I was still in the UK preparing for the trip, I asked for three quotes for the work to build the new Bible School. Boniface, knowing no builders himself, randomly chose three to give their quotes. On receipt of the quotes, I chose Daniel, whose quote seemed well presented and reasonable. Boniface and I couldn’t have known the true value of our choice. We are thrilled that God directed us to Daniel and his team, all from Rwanda, who have worked extremely hard and with integrity in the short period of time we have had together. While we are trusting for spiritual benefits from this project, it has been exciting to see how God has been interested and involved even in the practical, humdrum details.

Sitting on the back of the motorbike one morning going to the building site, I was thinking about those who give and those who take. We had been visited the previous day by two groups of officials, both trying to take from the project. One group switched off the water to the property and then demanded $100 to re-connect it! The second group arrived with accusations that there was no paperwork for the construction and, therefore, demanding payment. These are the tactics of takers, corrupt officials who use their authority to intimidate for financial gain. Unfortunately that is a big problem here, especially when they see a foreigner around. Having lived in Congo, I was not easily intimidated and passed the situation to Boniface’s daughter, Martine.

martine

Martine Riziki

There are takers, but there are also givers. Martine is a Giver! She has been responsible for the project administration, financial accounts and for making all the purchases, a hard working and competent lady. Not prepared to bow down to pressure, she very quickly got rid of the five officials by producing all the necessary documents. Then, she organised her own contacts to reconnect the water, paying only $30 for the materials needed! Did she have to do that? No! It would have been easier to spend project money and let the problem go away. But because she is a giver she was motivated to act.

I wonder how I would perform living under these conditions continually, day in and day out? I somehow think I would not have the patience to deal well with such issues. However, it has been a great experience to work with a team who are Givers.

We often say we believe in God until things get tough and then we realise that all along we were really depending on ourselves. Reflecting on my time in Bukavu, and remembering my doubts beforehand, I can honestly say that without the help of God and the great Givers I have been working with, the work could have gone horribly wrong. Thank You God! Thank you Givers!

We still have a long way to go but we are well on the way now.

Bukavu Project Update – June 2015 – Crisis of Finance!

nick1Hi again to all of you who support and follow the Bukavu project. You will remember from the last newsletter that Nick Delport went out in April to Bukavu for 2 months to supervise the build and as it turned out to teach the Congolese each of the processes required in the building.

This 2 months went really well, although Nick had to do some corrective work to what had already been done which put the build back somewhat.

Nick decided (I mentioned this in the last newsletter) to build right up to the roof just one third of the building so he could show the Congolese builders the processes involved. I’m delighted to say he achieved this. Here is a picture of that third of the building right up to roof level:roof1

The white building to the right is the existing brick building that has already had a lot of work done on it and houses the kitchen that we put in in 2012.

As well as this third of the building Nick brought in a second team to carry on with the rest of the building, learning from what had been taught in the first third.

The overall builder is a guy called Daniel and Nick has been very pleased with him and his work. He supervised both teams one and two.

By the time Nick left Bukavu in early June much had been achieved by team two and the latest photos we have from Bukavu show they have done the ground floor walls, some of the windows and the inside walls to make a bathroom, guest toilet, and office for Boniface (The Principal of the college)

Here is the latest photo of the rest of the building:lf1

During this 2 months it was wonderful to have the burden of the project move onto Nick, however the money fairly shot away from me to Bukavu to accomplish all this!!

What we didn’t appreciate were the transport costs. Sometimes Boniface and others would travel 40km to obtain materials requiring taxi hire and getting materials to the college was very expensive.

You may remember in earlier newsletters I have explained that the lane leading to the college is very narrow (it can just about take the smallest pickup truck) and it has a 90° bend which precludes taking anything longer than the actual length of the truck. An example is that for the future costs it is estimated that it will cost nearly $6,000 for the wood, but then for transport it will cost $145 and then to carry it a further $70.

Nick has estimated that to complete the building the transport and carry costs alone will come to $12,500! Over all the project the transport and carry costs alone work out at 16% of the total costs!

The position currently regarding finances is that all the money has been spent.

Originally when we weren’t really able to obtain costings from Bukavu for the project we had a rough estimate of £60,000, however the truth we now know is that the whole project is likely to cost £106,000! So far the amount that has come in for the project has been £49,000 – and that has all gone. We now therefore need a further £57,000 to complete the build. These costs have been estimated by Nick before he left and he has allowed a 5% extra for eventualities.

I urgently need £8,800 to get the first floor slab on, the windows in and to make the ground floor watertight and workable. That will at least give them their hall back while I wait for the rest of the money to come in.

Nick wrote to me recently how encouraging the build has been and he believes it is an excellent project that with the finance could be completed before the rainy season comes in October.

I am so grateful to everyone who has faithfully supported this project, who has sacrificially given and who has partnered with me to see this project go forward. May God bless you for your generosity.

I am certain that God is with this project. We have seen so many miracles and the hand of God has been so obvious and I don’t believe that what he has started he will not complete. So why am I asking for money from you? Because I believe my responsibility is to make you aware of the progress and need of the project.

I know God will show you how to respond.

bonifaceWhen Boniface was told the money had run out he calmly said ‘if God is in it there is nothing to worry about as it will all work out’. Of course he is as sure as me that God is in it.

I look forward to hearing from you and as always I am ready and willing to come and share the progress and needs with you in your church or organisation.

Every blessing

Gill

It’s going up! Update May 2015

The building is on its way up. Praise God!

b1In my last update I told you about the wonderful gift of £20,000, since then money has steadily been coming in and from having £25,000 we now have £49,000 for the project.

Also on April 6th Nick Delport arrived in Bukavu and is there as I write.

It’s a good job he went because the build was seriously foundering before he arrived.

A builder called Daniel had been given the first contract after Boniface had had quotes from 3 builders. He knew that the builder must have previous extensive experience at building 2 storey reinforced concrete buildings and apparently Daniel did. Boniface sent us the quotes (Nick and I) and we agreed on Daniel

I had sent Boniface the architect’s drawings and a detailed instruction document from Nick explaining in detail with drawings how we wanted the build to proceed.

I asked for photos at every stage and the first photos were very disturbing.

We had asked for 1 metre deep foundation trenches to be dug – along which at every 2.5 metres were going to be reinforced pillars.

b2As you can see from this photo the foundations were far too shallow especially in-between where the pillars were due to go.

I urgently emailed Boniface and explained again the need for 1 metre deep foundations and that Daniel must follow the architect’s drawings and the instruction document from Nick.

The next photo I received was equally disturbing. As you can see from the photo (right) the trenches have been dug properly but the vertical reinforcing bars (rebars) have been pushed into the ground for the pillars when they should be tied into horizontal rebars in the base of the trenches. Also the concrete has been poured.b3

This meant I had to instruct them to break up the concrete and remove the pillars which was extra cost to the project.

I am so glad that this project belongs to God and not me! God had told me to approach Nick about going out for a time to supervise the build and Nick had also been obedient to what God was saying and so he now arrived in Bukavu and it is no exaggeration to say he saved the project!

Nick had to do quite a bit of corrective work, but once he was in charge the work has progressed much quicker.

It was obvious to both Nick and I that Boniface and Daniel needed training to know how to do the build and especially how to continue the build once Nick leaves at the beginning of June so Nick suggested and I agreed that instead of working on the whole building and maybe completing to the first floor,(but maybe not even getting that far due to the correction work and the foundations not being ready when Nick got here), he would build the whole building right up to the roof but only for the first third of the building – as the white square in the diagram below shows.

b4

This is what he has concentrated on and I soon received a photo of the completed foundations in that first third of the building.

Then the latest pictures show the walls going up (picture top of this blog post)

b6Boniface and his daughter have of course been keeping detailed accounts of the expenditure and I receive regular updated spreadsheets (Nick has helped them with this too).

What is apparent is that costs are escalating; they have already spent $31,507, which is about equivalent to £21,000, so we can be sure the final bill will exceed what was the original target of £60,000.

After the miraculous gift of £20,000 that I received earlier I have learned not to stress or get anxious about the money needed because this is God’s project as He has made abundantly clear and I know he will provide, however I want to make you aware of the need and again to ask churches to please invite me to come and share about this project and to ask the Lord if He wants you to have the joy of being part of this project by giving.

This building needs to be completed before the rainy season comes in October so all the money is needed now.

I am excited at what God is doing and believing that what he begins he will bring to completion.

Soon I hope to send a newsletter that shows the completed building but until then please keep praying for us.

God richly bless you

Gill

Bukavu Project Update February 2015 The Big Push!

At the end of my last update I told you that the old wooden building on the college site which was primarily used for the church to meet in had been pulled down in readiness for the new 2 storey building to be built.

The building was pulled down at the end of the dry season and the rainy season began 4 weeks later which meant that any thought of digging out foundations had to stop until the rainy season was over.

In Bukavu the rainy season lasts from October to the end of April – it’s a long one of 7 months!

In the meantime I was becoming very stressed about the build, knowing nothing about building and knowing any instructions had to be communicated over a poor internet connection and an even worse phone connection.

I knew a couple called Nick and Kym Delport who were missionaries with Central Africa Missions in the south of Congo in Lubumbashi. Nick is a structural engineer who designed the moving parts of Wimbledon roof! I knew they had built a reinforced concrete hospital wing out there and that they had now finished and come home. Nick had already given me some advice regarding this 2 storey reinforced concrete build that I was managing.

Nik-and-Kym-DelportAs I prayed (and worried) about the build I felt I should ask Nick if he would be willing to go out to Bukavu to oversee the build for a time. I have to confess I expected he would say no as he had just come home and was establishing a business here. But God was in it all and he said if I could cover his support he would be willing to go. We gave it a fortnight for God to provide the considerable money needed to cover all his expenses and on the last day of the 2 weeks I had a text message from the Rock Church in York saying they would cover the cost! Praise God.

I am so grateful to those like Nick and Kym and the Rock church who have supported this project in so many ways.

Nick is planning to go to Bukavu at the beginning of April for 2 months and hoping to supervise the build up to the first floor slab.

The cost of the whole build is estimated now to be £60,000 – a lot of money until you think how much it would cost to build a 2 storey building in the UK. Up until a week ago I had £25,000 towards the build which Nick was telling me wouldn’t even get us up to the first floor slab.

Money was trickling in only very slowly and meetings in churches were few and far between, again I became very stressed; I would wake in the early hours and the project would go round and round in my head so that I couldn’t get back to sleep and became instead very agitated and afraid.

I knew in my head that God was for this project because I have experienced so many miracles already regarding the whole project but it needed to translate into my heart and I needed peace of mind.

I was due to go away last weekend (14th & 15th Feb) to a family reunion and in the days leading up to the weekend away I did some serious wrestling with God. I kept reminding him it was his project and if he didn’t provide the money it couldn’t go ahead. As I kept reminding him of course I was really reinforcing the truth to myself. It’s HIS project! I asked God to please show me again that he is with me in the project by sending me a significant amount of money immediately (I was thinking about £1,000 to £5,000).

I went away on the weekend and when I returned on the Sunday lying on the doormat was an ordinary envelope but inside was a simple letter from a couple where I had spoken about the project some months before. On the day I had spoken at their church God had spoken to both of them separately but at the same time to give a significant donation for the project. It had taken all these months for it to arrive as they were waiting for their house to sell. The cheque was for £20,000!

Tears ran down my face as I sat on our living room sofa and gazed at the letter and cheque. This was an ordinary couple who had sacrificed so much in obedience to God and been so instrumental in the things God was saying to me. They are special partners in this project with me and I thank God for them and thank him for his faithfulness. He is an amazing God!

I find that God tests us to the very edge with faith then bountifully supplies our need.

As I write this the foundations are being dug, the builder (Daniel) has been contracted for this first phase of digging out and laying the foundations and the ground floor slab.

Please pray for us during this critical time of the project.

Pray for dry weather

Pray that Daniel will be honourable and not try to cheat us

Pray for Boniface as he supervises the build and purchases the supplies

Pray that the measurements will be correct and the work done correctly

Pray that this phase will be completed by the end of March in readiness for Nick going out

Pray for all the arrangements for Nick to go to Bukavu

Pray that there will be no accidents in the whole build

Pray for me as I write the contracts for the other phases of the build

Pray for the couple who gave so generously that God will mightily bless them and everyone else who has given to the project

Pray that the final £15,000 will come in quickly so we can complete the build this year

Continue to pray that God will reveal a successor to be principal of the college

In closing as the prayer requests show I still need £15,000 to complete the build and am looking to speak about Congo in churches. If your church would like me to come please let me know.

My phone numbers are: 01922 683060 or 07876464735

Bukavu Project Update September 2014

In July 2014 a team of us went out to Bukavu again. This time we didn’t go with the main focus being the building but rather we went out to evangelise, teach and preach.  As I wrote in a previous blog Filip Ivanov from Macedonia went with us – in fact he was the reason we went. He had felt God saying to him that he should go and evangelise in Congo and I respect Filip so we went.

 

Filip

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Another lady from my church – Cherry Udeze also went with us. Cherry is a valued member of our church and a good friend. She has a beautiful singing voice and she went to sing and also to work with me teaching children’s workers.

cherry and Gill with pastor from lamanga

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Children’s ministry is sadly neglected in Congo and Boniface had expressly asked for some teaching focussed on children’s ministry. We have a lady in our church – Michelle Walker – who heads up all our children’s and youth ministry and she has a diploma in children’s ministry. She has done a great job in the church and she was happy to prepare the material and us for this teaching.  

 

We stayed as always in the Norwegian/Swedish Mission Station and this year we stayed in the big Norwegian Guest house which was very comfortable.

We didn’t have running water for the whole time we were there and sometimes the electricity would be off but never the less we were very well off. Venecia a lady who cooks for some of the missionaries also cooked for us and that was a blessing – she’s a great cook and fresh produce is readily available and delicious. Surprisingly you can also get really good cheese made in Goma just up the road from Bukavu so we ate well too. What a difference now I know my way around a little better in how we live while we are out there!

mission station terrace mission station living room

salad

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We also flew the last lap from Kigali in Rwanda to just outside the border of Congo. I used to always go on a 6hr bus journey which is pretty lethal and very uncomfortable but last year on the way home on that journey I was very sick and the bus driver wouldn’t stop so with nothing to be sick into I was sick over much of the front of the bus and had to sit in it and everyone else had to suffer it for 4hrs!

Pastor John Clack who was with me said that was the last time I would do that bus journey (it was my 5th journey) and so we flew for 1/2hr. Praise God for John’s common sense. Of course it cost £100 rather than a few dollars but it was worth every pound believe me!

I taught at a Pastors conference where over 50 pastors attended for 2 mornings and thoroughly enjoyed it. I had been asked to speak on integrity as there is corruption even in the churches and the pastors responded well. I also spoke on Peter’s recommissioning which was a teaching to encourage them and agin they responded well.

We taught children’s workers for 4 mornings and they seemed to thoroughly enjoy it – we had lots of fun as we modelled styles of learning using them as if they were children and we had taken some adult gifts to use in the themed games. Here is a video clip of me using a story bag and Cherry acting the farmer who lost his sheep.

Outreach

In the afternoons we went to various parts of the city to hold outdoor evangelistic meetings. We had over 100 people at each meeting and many responded to the gospel. There were also some significant events when God spoke into individual’s lives and we saw them change as we spoke with them and prayed with them.

Cherry’s singing was greatly appreciated in the evangelistic meetings and when we went to various churches at the weekends.

 

 

 
Mumoshu Church

Mumoshu 2

One Saturday we travelled about 2hrs up into the mountains to a little church at Mumoshu. I have visited this church every time I have gone to Congo and a number of the leaders have trained at the Bible College. In 2010 I had the joy of leading a soldier to Christ in that church – he had come in uniform with his gun in place and I had felt very intimidated by him having had a traumatic time (along with a friend) travelling through Congo, so what a joy it was to lead him to Christ. At this visit I was delighted to see how much the congregation has grown – they have outgrown their little wooden building and are meeting under tarpaulin outside until their new building is built. Oh for more money so we could help them as well!What a blessing it was to spend all our time in spiritual rather than practical work this time.

On Saturday evenings we met with the missionaries who live at the mission station – mainly women – they are wonderful, courageous ladies who serve God in difficult circumstances. I know of missionaries who have had to go home because the strain of living in Congo has made them ill.

One missionary who is a doctor at the Pansy hospital in Bukavu was very low. Rape is a massive problem in Congo and she told us that now children are being raped, in fact in one village alone 23 children have been raped in the last year and the youngest was only 3 1/2yrs old. She is operating to save these children’s lives who are raped and mutilated and left on the streets of the village. She is convinced something demonic is going on in this particular village as no parent or anyone else will admit to knowing who is doing these awful things. There seems to be a veil of secrecy over it.

Please pray for this village and for the Doctor.

Also please pray for these missionaries. There are some nasty situations that they are dealing with and one missionary has received death threats because of what she is having to do.

Boniface told me that he is hoping to start the new build in September and I can report that since returning to the UK I have had news that the old wooden building has been demolished and its all systems go for the new build.

 

demolition new fence and cleared site 3 demolition new fence and cleared site 2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So far I have received £20,000 for the build. Praise God and thank you for your faithful giving, however we need £60,000. Please pray with us for the money to come in, for openings into churches to speak about the project and please pray for Boniface who is taking on this mammoth job of managing the build. I will keep you posted on development.

What’s happening in 2014

Visit to Congo in July

I was expecting not to go to Congo this year as plans are progressing for the new build, however we are now going in July.

I met Filip Ivanov – an evangelist from Macedonia when he was training at the International Bible Training Institute (where I teach), he and his wife were outstanding students and he is now being used world wide in evangelism. Filip felt God was leading him to go to Congo to evangelise and asked if I would go with him.

I am also taking Cherry Udeze – a godly lady from our church and we are going to use the opportunity to teach children’s workers. There is a dirth of children’s ministry in the churches in and around Bukavu. In fact last year when we were in one church a group of a dozen or so children outside of the church were not even allowed in until we insisted.

Michelle Walker who is in charge of children’s ministries in our church (Hope church West Bromwich) is going to prepare us to teach the children’s workers.

Please pray for us as we go and teach, evangelise and preach for two weeks.