Claude's Congo return to fulfil Biblical dream
Retired Norwich head teacher, Claude Scott, has a dream to return to the land of his childhood in Africa 70 years ago, to provide Bible teaching to hundreds of pastors in churches established by his missionary father. Here is his story.
Last February, in a quite extraordinary way, God opened the way for me to be able to visit the place in eastern Congo, where I had lived with my parents, between 1939 and 1946. I was able to see again the very house we lived in and visit many churches in that area, founded as a result of my father’s pioneering missionary work.
With all the problems there have been in that strife-torn country, I had given up any hope of ever making this journey. But, miraculously, I did. What transpired on this short visit was nostalgic, deeply emotional, but also transformational, uplifting and challenging. It left me with a whole set of challenges and questions.
In total contrast to little Rwanda which borders it to the north-east, the Democratic Republic of Congo is a vast country (as big as Europe), blessed with huge reserves of mineral wealth, but blighted by corruption, so endemic that its population remains poor and at constant risk of violence, rape and pillage from the various rival groups that vie for local supremacy.
Soon after I returned, one of these uprisings took place not more than 20km from Baraka, where we had lived. It caused many deaths, and resulted in 1600 local Christians having to flee at a moment’s notice. The church was burned down, as was the pastor’s house. Quite recently, at Sange, 53 Christians were among those who died when a petrol tanker overturned and caught fire.
Against such a backcloth of instability, fear, poverty and danger, I found churches which remain vibrant and active after all these years. The pastors I met, and there were many, kept stressing how these were the fruits of my father’s labours. Undoubtedly, he had left an enduring legacy. Many such churches ran schools, where the pastor was often the head teacher! Faith is strong in spite of everything.
But their needs are great. Amongst these, damaged buildings, poorly equipped schools, and the scourge of HIV/AIDS were the most easy to observe. But greater still was the need expressed by the pastors themselves for biblical teaching.
Missionaries left 10 years ago because of the constant risk of violence, and they now have no external source of support and training. So, at their request, I am going back next February to hold workshop seminars for 120 pastors. I shall be providing each pastor with a very recently published Swahili African Bible Commentary, and shall use this resource to help pastors in their understanding and use of the Bible. These commentaries are being provided absolutely free by the publishers, The Langham Trust – a wonderful encouragement to me, and a confirmation, if I needed it, that this is what God wants me to do.
The pastors themselves cannot afford to pay their own expenses, so I am hoping to raise the necessary funds to pay for their transport, accommodation and food for the week. This will amount, I am told, to about £60 per head, not much by our standards.
I will be holding a presentation about my Congo visit and plans at Holy Trinity Church, Norwich, on Saturday November 13, at 7.30pm. Everyone is welcome.
If you would like more details or want to offer support, you can contact Claude at: email@example.com
Claude, who lives with his wife Ethne in Norwich, was the headteacher of Thorpe St Andrew High School from 1977 to 1993, before becoming an educational advisor.
Pictured top is Claude Scott with three Congolese pastors.