In the preface to her mission story, Abigail Duman relates the words of a ship captain to James Calvert—a missionary to Fiji in 1838. He urged, “You will lose your life and the lives of those with you if you go among such savages.” Unmoved, Calvert replied, “We died before we came here.”
The theme of death to self runs through Angels Over Kisangani. Telling the story of Abigail and Christopher Duman’s work with the Congo Frontline Mission, just outside the city of Kisangani in the Democratic Republic of Congo in 2016, the book provides compelling examples of the missionary spirit and God’s presence. But it also highlights the tensions of wazunga—people with pale skin—trying to share the gospel in a country whose native people endured nearly a century of exploitation by Europeans.
Prior to gaining independence from Belgium in 1960, the Congolese people were forced to work on rubber plantations, segregated and mistreated. Today, the political situation remains volatile, violence rampant and poverty rife. Duman tells of robbers with AK-47 weapons terrorising villagers, and of burned-out cars left on the roadside after frenzied mobs set them alight—often with the occupants still inside—in retaliation for damage to people or property in a traffic accident.
When the Dumans joined the mission, Abigail heard stories of God’s past protection—including witches who tried to enter the mission buildings only to come face-to-face with angels. But following an accident on the mission grounds, when the missionaries were forced to flee from a vengeful mob, Abigail experienced for herself the protection of angels—along with a clear example of the peace Jesus has to offer those who are enslaved by anger, violence, superstition and fear.
Angels over Kisangani demonstrates that we sometimes have a limited window of opportunity for mission in a certain place. There is an urgency to love and serve those around us well in the time we have. And we do not need to be afraid to die to self—or indeed to die. As Jesus promised, “If you give up your life for my sake, you will save it” (Matthew 16:25, NLT).
Angels Over Kisangani is available from Adventist bookshops in Australia and New Zealand, or online.