Eric & Amy

Spencer

Madison, Jordan, Autumn


Serving in Network211, International Ministries


Account #2961589

1419 W Sackett
Springfield, MO 65807

The Lord has opened the door for our family to work with a team in planting a high impact urban church in the heart of Brazzaville, the capital of the Republic of Congo. Our desire is to reach, rescue, and restore the lost and broken-hearted, showing them the hope and love that Christ offers to all. Our focus will be on ministering and discipling young and old, helping them embrace the life God has planned for each one.

"How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? And how can anyone preach unless they are sent? Romans 10:14-15a  



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This last week was certainly one of the most interesting experiences of our ministry experience while in the Congo. I used to have this idea of how living here in the capital city of Brazzaville was Africa. Well last week that image of Africa was shattered. Through many situations that God just seemed to orchestrate together, Jordan, Madison and I had the opportunity to take a ministry journey through the heart of the Congo Jungle speaking at village churches, passing out soccer balls, spending time with the kids....and unfortunately spending time with the police as they tried to exhort money from us. It all started last Sunday the 10th of June. The trek took us 12 hours from Brazzaville north to a town called Ouesso, right on the Cameroon border. We spent the night in a Catholic Guest house and then the next day we crossed a river on a ferry and traveled another 12 hours on a single lane dirt road for 500km through Pigme villages to a town called Impfondu. This journey was by far one of the most BEAUTIFUL parts of the world that I have ever seen. Words like peaceful, serene, contentment are just a few to describe the feelings we had as we took little breaks to take pictures and just enjoy Africa. Here are just a few of the pictures of the Journey to Impfondu. After arriving in Impfondu late Tuesday evening, I was invited to share at a chapel service on Wednesday morning, and then later that night at a small church just outside of town. Chapel service went well, but the church service was unlike ANYTHING I have EVER experienced in my life. I know that this is a little long, but then again it is also the first time I have ever been assaulted in church. So let me explain. Church started at 4:00pm on Wednesday. The Pastor sent a motorcycle to pick me up. Why a motorcycle? Because fuel is hard to come by and the roads are just impassable for anything other than a motorcycle or a big 4wd vehicle and nobody has enough extra money to buy a big 4wd vehicle (thank you Speed the Light). So then, why not jump on the back of motorcycle with someone that you don't know, in a town that you have never visited, with a bunch people that you can't understand, in a land that is truly frozen in time? My military training and thinking was just going nuts at this time as I am thinking that they are going to take me out into the middle of the jungle and I am going to end up being the local village feast for the headhunters. "Here comes the fat, white guy, lets EAT him!" But I grab my bible and jump on the back of the motorcycle and about 20 minutes I arrive at the church. It is a small church and I can hear the singing. It is about 4:20-4:30pm. I expect the church to be somewhat full, but nobody is there. The Pastors's wife is waiting for me and escorts me to the front where there is a chair set aside for guests. I can hear the Pastor singing. I can hear the keyboard playing the same tune, like it is on a 15 second loop, and there is a pregnant lady singing alongside the Pastor. But it seems that the Pastor is sing one song, the lady is singing a different song with a different melody as she is having labor pains and the keyboard player is...well I am not sure what he was doing, but it was the same thing every 15 seconds. Nobody was at the church. I am used to culturally people showing up late, but this was 30 minutes into the service start and the Pastor is faithfully singing through a microphone that doesn't work unless the cord is held just right and speakers that were clearly blown out years ago, to a congregation that just included me and his wife. But people started to show. First it was the kids that showed up, then the little lady that looked like she was in her early 60's but had a 6-7mnth old infant on her hip. She came in sat the infant on the bench and knelt and started praying. I thought, "cool she is pretty serious." The Pastor continued to sing..the same song. The little girl sat on the bench and cried, but the music was so loud that you really couldn't hear her, but you could see the look of confusion and abandonment on her face as she cried. Soon other people started to show up and the church was about half full, maybe 30 people at this point. The little old lady with the baby was having sporadic episodes of crying out to the God, raising her hand in worship and then going back to praying. It was somewhat unusual, but being in the Pentecostal church it was not uncommon. But then this little old women with the baby on her hips went from praying to running full speed at me with one hand raised to attack me and the other hand wrapped around her baby. I saw it all happen in slow motion. The Pastor was able to grab her arm and wrestle her to the ground, while the music played and the other lady in labor pains continued to sing. The lady was taken down to the ground and the confused little baby covered in dirt layed on the ground crying while the Pastor took the little old lady to the back of the church where his wife prayed over her. I picked up the baby and held her while we continued to sign the same song. Eventually the church filled up. The little old lady was unable to get it together and continued to have problems so she was escorted out of church. While I spoke, another lady start to have "problems" during my sermon. She would blurt out words in the middle of the service, but I was able to continue on...it wasn't disturbing, but just a little "different" It turns out my attacker was a Pigme or Aka women. There is a deep spiritual Animism practice that is embedded into their culture. I don't know if it was a spiritual assault or if she was just not right in the head, but without a doubt there are strange things that happen in the Congo bush. The next day I had a chance to visit some people who were having medical issues and pray with them. I had a chance to understand the Pigme culture a little better and see where/how they lived. It was a very interesting time, especially when I had a chance to pray with them. The way back was blessed and challenging. Challenging in the fact that we had 3 flat tires, one being a complete blowout that tore up the left rear quarter panel of the vehicle. Blessed because we got to stop and hand out some soccer balls to Pigme children and play soccer as we changed the flat tires or waited to get some of them fixed. The blog entry is really long, but I wanted to share this experience with everyone! Until next time
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So...how to even begin this blog is somewhat difficult.  My mind is scattered on what to write and how to really formulate my thoughts in a coherent way to properly describe the events that happened throughout the week.   (See a severely bad run on sentence)

The person who returned back to Brazzaville yesterday is not the same person who left for Pointe Noire on Wednesday morning last week.

I guess the best way is to begin at the beginning and if the blog gets to long I apologize in advance.  Perhaps this is my therapeutic blog to help me process the events of last week.  It all started back in the middle of February when I was asked to speak at a church in Pointe Noir for the 3 days leading up to Pentecost and of course Pentecost Sunday.  I agreed simply because that is what a good missionary is suppose to do.

But I really had no clue what I was going to do.  I really had this fear, who am I? Look at my religious background.... Raised a conservative Baptist,  graduated with a degree from a conservative Baptist college, married and raised my kids in a Pentecostal church but always struggled with this Baptism in the Holy Sprit concept.  I understood the indwelling of the Holy Spirit based / Salvation, but Pentecost / the Baptism of the Holy Spirit..... I did get baptized in the Holy Sprit in a Jr. High worship service, but I never really understood it.  I still consider my roots as Baptist (I am a little confused 😐)  

So here is what it looked like.. Baptist / Pentecostal (Baptecostal)  boy, asked to preach in a Pentecostal church, not a big deal I have been doing that for the last several years, but not on Pentecost Sunday.  That is like being asked to preach at a church on Christmas or Easter Sunday.

But to preach at a African Pentecostal Church on the week leading up to Pentecost... That is crazy.  What am I doing???? ...

Wednesday evening  last week it started..... With a little trepidation, Jordan and I spoke on the History of Penetecost, trying to determine if we were making a connection with the Congolese.  Wednesday night seemed to go well, the Congolese seemed very appreciative and thankful, of course everyone was amazed at Jordan and how well he translated.

Thursday evening we spoke on the Purpose of the Holy Spirit before Pentecost and after Pentecost, as well as the difference between indwelling and infilling of the Holy Spirit.  We asked for everyone to come forward and to pray for Pentecost Sunday, to repent of anything that might be preventing the Holy Spirit to move in their lives, to pray for each other and the leaders of the church.  However it was Thursday evening while I was speaking that things began to change for me.  There was a sense of boldness that came over me, a sense of authority, but not in a arrogant unhealthy way but in humility.  We cried out to God, I lost my voice, we prayed together and it was a lot of fun.

After the service the Congolese Pastor asked me why I didn’t pray longer?  The service lasted 2.5 hours...it started at 6:00 pm and it was around 8:30 pm when I finished, I was soaked in sweat with no voice.. and he asked why I didn’t lay hands on the people and pray longer.  First of all I have never preached and layed hands on people... and I thought crying out to God in prayer for 45min to a hour was plenty long...at least from my cultural standpoint.

Friday morning I was asked to speak at the Bible college for their chapel.... Which was a neat opportunity to meet the future leaders within the church.

Friday night we spoke on the Plan of the Holy Spirit for the church and for the individuals.  I also spoke on the biblical significance of laying on of hands.  It was awesome, I had everyone come forward again...and we (Jordan and I) walked amongst the Congolese and layed hands on them and prayed and everyone cried out to God.  I had no idea how long it lasted, time just really didn’t have a meaning or significance.  We just prayed and worshipped....and then we danced and laughed and hugged and sang and danced some more...  I thought to myself...this is what being a missionary is all about.

Saturday morning, all the church leaders and Pastors all meet for a meeting and I had the opportunity to share with them...The same Holy Spirit that showed up Friday night showed up Saturday morning.  I got to lay hands on the Pastors, to pray and encourage them to take the story of Pentecost Sunday to their churches.  Pastors were kneeling and weeping and crying out to God, it was awesome.

Sunday morning I told the church my life story and how for so many years I struggled with the concept of the baptism of the Holy Spirit.  We talked briefly about the purpose and plan of the Holy Spirit and we prayed and prayed and prayed some more...then we danced and sang and just had a wonderful time.   I wish I had some more pictures to share, but when your preaching, its hard to stop and take a selfy.  The ones that I have have been sent to me.

Great week...one to remember












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Matthew 19:14 Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.” I am excited to announce that this coming Saturday evening marks the start date of a new ministry to the Children in Brazzaville. Many of you who have been following our posts on our blog or facebook know that we have been showing movies Saturday evening and giving the kids popcorn. The “Saturday Movie Night” has had tremendous success. Last Saturday we had over 60 kids show up, a new milestone.

But last Saturday also marked a transitional period where “Saturday Movie Night” took on a slightly new meaning. Jordan and I shared the love of Jesus to the children...which is really what it is all about anyway :). This upcoming Saturday, we will start to transition the ministry over to a local Congolese young man to become the “point” person for the ministry to the children. His name is Espoir and he will pray before the movie and give a little devotional and invitation to the kids and the adults watching the movie.Pray for Espoir, he is a young man, very serious about Jesus and a sweet easy going personality. I am looking forward to seeing him continue to grow in his relationship with God and how this ministry opportunity would continue to change the lives of the children as God leads and directs Espoir’s life. This is cool stuff...this is what I get excited about. Being able to mentor and tutor young men and women to minister and share Jesus. I love being able to start a ministry and then turn it over to local people to manage and run with.
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I really wanted to write a post on cultural adaptation or cultural integration and what it looks like when you start to really adapt and figure out how to live in another culture completely foreign to your own....... perhaps I will give just a brief thought. How do you know when you adapt? When you see Kellogg’s Rice Krispies cereal on sale for $4 a box and you think...”That is a SUPER good deal,” and you fill up your grocery cart with them. Normally they are $8 a box. Who in America would ever spend $4 for a box of Rice Krispies? In the Congo, we get excited about that. However.......I limit the kids to 57 individual Rice Krispies for breakfast. I count them out individually to make the box last longer.......just kidding.

Housing update...many of you have read the newsletter and have expressed that you have been praying for our “Money Pit” home situation, for which we are EXTREMELY thankful. In fact over this last week, there have been an unbelievable amount of power outages. Power has been off for for around 48 hours, comes on for 4-6 hours, back off for 12, on for 2 hours, off for 24 hours...etc. It makes it difficult to keep the refrigerator cold or to keep the water going. The temperature has been around 92 degrees with high humidity. The air-conditioning units don’t work without power from the city. We do have a small generator that we run every 4 hours or so to keep the refrigerator cool and lights working, but it isn’t big enough to run an air conditioner. But while it seems to be frustrating we seem to adapt... it becomes the “new normal.” But we found a new place to live. It’s smaller, in an apartment complex that has a huge generator system, gravity feed filtered water with a security system and screens on the windows. So hopefully we will be moving in the next couple of days. We are cutting our losses on this “Money Pit” and moving on. Pray for the move. It’s on the 5th floor, no elevator... and I am not excited to carry furniture up 5 flights of stairs, but I am excited to move! Luckily I have a “stud” of a boy, Jordan, to help - I may have to double his daily Rice Krispie allowance to help :)
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It’s been awhile since I last blogged. As many of you know, we have had numerous problems with our house of which I will not go into great details. However, while we were at a meeting in South Africa, the power had been off and the guards didn’t run the generator resulting in all the meat and food in the freezer spoiling. Also a water line had broken, and the house was flooded. After 3 months of continual issues, we are currently looking into another place to live. In the United States there are different styles of church services. I’m not talking about different denominations or religions here. You have the seeker sensitive, traditional, contemporary, and home churches just to name a few. I discovered a new type of church in Africa. I am calling it the “Microwave Church”. We went to church yesterday....the sun was shining, not a cloud in the sky. It was a 30 minute drive through the narrow backroads of Brazzaville before we found the church. Being a typical Congolese church, we arrived about 9:30 am, and there were probably 30 people singing and worshiping. About an hour later another 150 people arrived. Nearly all the church buildings are cement walls with a metal roof, usually having a couple of electrical lines for running lights, an old sound system, keyboard, plastic chairs, and that is it. Nothing more, pretty simple system. As the morning progresses into the afternoon, more and more people show up, the temperature gets hotter, the worship gets more intense with people shouting and dancing. Combine all that with a metal roof, no clouds, hot sun, and living on the equator. I call that a “Microwave Church”. Or I could use a more American term - the “Weight Loss Church”, leave the church 5 lbs. lighter than when you arrived. That could really work in the United States with all the church gimmicks and people trying new things to attract attention, trying to get people to come to their church - why not a weight loss church? Turn up the heat, get people moving and worshiping. Worship for about 3 hours with a break here and there for a sermon, tithe or announcements. What do you think?
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