Feature

The Potential of One

A man wholly surrendered to God

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In the early, struggling years of The Alliance in the Congo, a discouraged missionary said to his companions, “Perhaps we shouldn’t expect the same results here in Africa as are being seen in India and China.”

A junior missionary stood and replied, “Brother, I refuse to believe that the Spirit of God can do less in the heart of an African than in an educated Indian or Chinese.” That statement fanned the waning faith of his fellow missionaries. They returned to their stations with renewed courage, faith and determination. It wasn’t long before God turned the tide. A surge from heaven brought life to the dry, parched ground. From then on, the Church took root and germinated.

Hearing the Message

By 1952, the year I arrived in the Congo, membership in Alliance churches had reached 30,000. The Bible had been completely translated and printed in Kikongo. African pastors and evangelists were being trained and were ministering in the churches. The crying need, however, was to teach the laity to read and write, so they could study the Bible and grow spiritually.

Because there were no state schools in our area, the C&MA embarked on the ambitious program of opening primary and secondary schools. Christians and pagans rushed to enroll. With daily chapel services and classes in the Bible, many students became Christians. “Faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word of Christ” (Rom. 10:17). Those schools became one of our most effective tools of evangelism, but the demands outgrew our means.

In 1959, to alleviate the situation, The Alliance decided to participate in a joint teachers’ and pastors’ training school established by three evangelical missions outside our area. The school was renowned for its high academic standards. All its graduates were immediately placed in key positions in their churches. By contributing limited personnel and funds, we could enroll Alliance students. I was the first Alliance missionary assigned to the faculty and found my Baptist and Swedish Covenant colleagues to be sincere, spiritual and a delight to work with.

A Searching Heart

One morning during my first year at the school, a student named Makanzu fell into step with me on the way to chapel. He was not one of our Alliance students nor did he happen to be in any of my classes. He knew me through the chapel services in which the missionaries took turns giving messages. Heavy set and of medium height, he gave the impression of self-confidence. He was a second-year student in the theological school and a leader among his peers. Aside from that, I knew nothing about him.

As he joined me, he asked, “Mademoiselle, may I have an appointment with you sometime?”

“Sure,” I replied. “When would you like to meet?”

“Any time you’re free.”

Never knowing how urgent the matter might be, I worked him into that afternoon’s schedule. “How about four o’clock?”

“Good,” he said. “I’ll see you then.” And off he went to rejoin a classmate.

That afternoon he was punctual and came equipped with Bible, notebook and pen. I learned he was 32 years old, married and the father of three children. He told me that he had accepted Christ as his Savior at 17. After completing secondary education, he sensed a call to the ministry and enrolled in our theological school. Unusually candid and concise, he immediately delved into the purpose of his visit.

“Mademoiselle,” he said, “I’m here preparing for the ministry. But I’m leading a miserable life. I have no joy, no peace, no zeal. How can I win people to Christ if it’s to lead this kind of life?”

His transparency amazed me. In all my years of working with the Congolese, none had ever been so open. In fact, rarely have I met an American so candid. As we interacted, it became apparent that Makanzu had no concept of what it meant to “walk in the Spirit.” Together we examined the Scripture. He was especially impacted by the truth that God gives His Holy Spirit “to those who obey Him” (Acts 5:32).

We prayed together, and humbly Makanzu prayed, “Lord, from today on, I’m going to obey You, no matter what.” When he stood up to leave, his strong handshake and eye contact told me he meant business.

Starting Over

It was some time before Makanzu gave me an update. “After leaving your office that day,” he said, “I went off to an isolated mountain, alone. Getting down on my knees in the high grass, the stones and dirt, I asked God to show me what He wanted me to do. I told Him—and meant it—that I was ready to obey, no matter what.”

He related how God revealed one thing after another. The first concerned lying about a class assignment. He had to go to the professor, admit his lie and make up the work. A well-known African proverb is “Vuna mu vuka” (lie to survive), so it was counter-culture for Makanzu to confess. With the help of the Holy Spirit, Makanzu obeyed God.

Other matters were harder to reconcile. One was apologizing to another professor (in class and in front of his friends) for arguing and asking irrelevant questions—as he had always done—to keep the professor from covering lesson material. The other involved getting rid of pornographic material hidden in a locked suitcase under his bed. He felt that God also wanted him to confess it to his wife. That last act of obedience was the hardest. But it severed Satan’s hold on Makanzu and set him free—free to obey whenever God spoke! His life changed dramatically. His joy, zeal and power returned. “The rains have come!” he exclaimed. “The sun shines, the grass is green, the flowers bloom, the sky is blue and God is on His throne!”

Upon graduation, Makanzu was assigned the pastorate of a church in Kinshasa, the capital of Zaire (now Democratic Republic of the Congo). Under his leadership, the church grew to 2,000 members. On one of my rare visits to the capital, Makanzu briefed me on how God was saving men and women who had been gangsters, prostitutes and thieves and turning their lives around. He also spoke of his Thursday night healing services and of having trained 16 deacons to pray for the sick. God accomplished amazing healings; Makanzu glowed with joy!

As the church grew, a jealous tribe within the congregation started spreading false accusations about Makanzu. They succeeded in removing him from the pastorate. Deeply depressed and discouraged, Makanzu came to see me.

“Mademoiselle,” he agonized, “how can God permit evil like that to triumph?”

The story of Joseph came to mind. In Genesis 50:20, we read that what man means for evil, God means for good. That lifted Makanzu’s heart. We prayed, and he left.

Better Plans

It wasn’t long until God’s will became evident. A team from the United States came to Kinshasa searching for an African preacher with the gift of evangelism, filled with the Spirit, fluent in French and free to travel. They wanted to send him to all the large centers in the Congo for full-time evangelism. Who met that criteria? None other than Makanzu.

From a parish of more than 2,000 people, God sent Makanzu to one of 30 million. During the next several years, Makanzu preached to tens of thousands, and thousands responded to the message of Christ. In our Alliance area, we frequently requested him to speak to our students, our pastors, our church confer-ences and to us missionaries. Everywhere he spoke, God’s anointing was upon him.

With time, Makanzu completed his journey of evangelization throughout the Congo. God gave outstanding results. Makanzu’s support organization was about to enlarge the ministry by sending him into all 19 French-speaking nations in

Africa. As he was about to embark on that mission, Makanzu suddenly fell ill and within a short time, God took him home. Mission accomplished.

Past Alliance Life Issues

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