Thursday, November 23, 2017

Making it Count in the Congo

by Dan Megill, the Samaritan’s Purse finance manager in the Democratic Republic of Congo office.

I took a deep breath of the Congo air, staring down the last obstacle before me. The entire day had been building to this moment. I had double-checked my preparations, fought through a hundred setbacks, adjusted a thousand tiny variables, but now, at last, I was ready. It was time.

Stretching out a trembling hand, I hit “import.” Time slowed to a crawl as the accounting software meticulously checked each line, each cell of my spreadsheet, until finally I saw two of the sweetest words known to man: “Load complete.” No errors. It was done. I’d successfully uploaded this month’s payroll transactions … the U.S. dollar transactions, anyway. The Congolese franc transactions were still waiting to be done.

It was just another day in the finance office.

Democratic Republic of Congo

Staff members from every office in the DRC gathered together for a retreat recently.

If this isn’t your image of what Samaritan’s Purse does in the Congo, that’s probably for the best. We do a lot of good work here: providing shelter and basic household needs to people displaced by conflict, giving food to children at school, teaching farmers how to improve their yields, rebuilding a church, distributing Bibles, and I could go on. But sitting at a desk, working on spreadsheets from my laptop, is exactly what I do here. Some days I also count things.

I wish I could say that I am filled every day, every moment, with a joyful sense of purpose as I do my work, that every code I change and every receipt I file is done “heartily, as for the Lord and not for men” (Colossians 3:23). I can’t claim that. But that is what I’m working toward, and that is why I do my work. I am a servant of God, called to his purposes, to glorify the name of Jesus.

Samaritan’s Purse Democratic Republic of Congo recently had its annual ministry retreat. All of our staff, from all of our sub-bases, came to our country headquarters for a week. Together we discussed successes and challenges of the past year, planned for the future, worshipped, and relaxed. There was even a sub-base vs. headquarters volleyball match.

One striking moment came early in the week, when we split up by department. The support staff made up, by far, the largest category, more numerous than all the staff from all of our programs combined. For all the hard-working staff we have, serving as hands and feet, appearing in the photos and videos, there are more behind the camera, serving as elbows and lungs and femurs. As it says in 1 Corinthians 12, we are the body of Christ. And Samaritan’s Purse is just a small part of that body.

Even within Samaritan’s Purse, the work is not done just by those of us living in the exotic locale of Congo. There’s an enormous network, stretching back through our field offices to the staff at our international headquarters in the States, and from there to donors, to volunteers, and to those who support the work in prayer. No part of this body can say to another part, “I don’t need you.”

One of my favorite verses in the Bible, a bit earlier in 1 Corinthians, is 10:31: “So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all to the glory of God” (NIV). It follows a discussion of dietary law, hence the example it gives, but even out of context I find it a helpful reminder.

We’re called to glorify God when we eat or drink. What could be more mundane? Some might answer “Accounting.” Yet, as of this moment, somewhat to my surprise, that is what I have been called to do, to be an accountant in the Democratic Republic of Congo and to do my accounting in the name of Christ Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.

What have you been called to do?