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The small AK-47 barrel pointed at the truck seemed as big as a cannon to Mukadi Florent. The Congolese driver gradually shifted his focus from the gun to the hand of the soldier beckoning him to stop at a roadblock in a remote part of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, formerly Zaire.

As the soldier examined the truck and asked questions, his finger never strayed from the trigger. Florent said he was transporting medicine and supplies for the Well Baby and Under Five Clinic. "They have no medicine there and many are very sick," Florent says. The soldier's face brightened as he realized that Florent worked for the nearby Methodist Mission, which runs the clinic. Before motioning Florent through the roadblock, however, he asked for a Bible.

Sighing with relief, Florent gladly handed over one of his few Bibles. One roadblock down, 23 to go. Not all are this easy to pass through, though. Once he was accused of working for a Western spy agency and was severely beaten.

"Each roadblock has an uneducated soldier with a gun—and it's not an empty gun," Florent says. "I face so much danger every day just driving through the rebel area, but I must continue on. The church in the Congo is growing. It's growing like never before."

Missionaries, who often must be evacuated from this war-torn country, are challenged by a question: How do you minister to a country one-fourth the size of the United States when you can't get to it? The answer is coming from Congolese Christians such as Florent—leaders willing to brave the war zones to receive training and take the gospel to areas of the country little touched by Christianity.

Many missionaries living in the interior have moved to the capital city, Kinshasa, or to bordering countries to escape ...

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In the Magazine

January 8, 2001

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