Dr. Roger Ibengi Dobe, Mth. Ph.D.
Christian literature has always been and remains one of the powerful ways the Holy Spirit brings people to conversion. Its advantage lies in the fact that it easily crosses religious and social barriers and reaches a man or woman personally in his or her context. My testimony, among many others, shows how Christian literature can break religious taboos and transform lives as much as evangelistic campaigns.
Born into a formally Catholic family, I was baptized at the age of 6 without any notion of regeneration. I was educated in Catholic primary and secondary schools by the Scheutist fathers(a Roman Catholic order founded in Scheut, near Brussels, Belgium, in the 19 th Century), who were known for their moral and ethical rigor. We became aggressive against the Protestant evangelists because our catechists taught us that all those who are baptized by the Protestants by immersion would become fish when they die. This conception not only made us afraid to approach the American missionaries who came to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ with us, but above all, it made us hate them. Sometimes we threw stones at them, because we considered them to be demons who came to deceive us so that we would become fish after our death. In our eyes, the only and best church was the Roman Catholic Church. This was the atmosphere in which I grew up.
At the end of my secondary studies, I was selected as a candidate for the major Catholic seminary of Mbandaka. While waiting for my confirmation by the bishop, I started teaching mathematics in a secondary school in my town. During this time, I met friends who led me into all forms of prostitution and intoxication. I lived with so many girls that I no longer had the desire to marry a woman. I went to church, not to follow the word of God, but to be noticed.
One day, while I was explaining to my students how to solve an equation, I overheard one of my students reading a Christian pamphlet entitled The Movie of Your Life. I was angry with him, but not wanting to interrupt my explanation, I simply took the book and put it in my bag.
At home, I used to take a nap every time I came back from teaching. And that day, during my nap, I thought of the pamphlet I had taken from my student, picked it up, and began to read it. As I read, each word and image weighed on my soul. I began to discover that I was guilty before God because I felt as if the author was describing my life.
The pamphlet described a man who was living his life without God. He went to church regularly, but only for entertainment and to be noticed. In church, he did not want the preacher to preach at length because in his eyes the preacher was wasting his time. He was living in hypocrisy and sin without realizing it. He had heard about Jesus several times but had closed his heart to him. He mocked the evangelists who came to his town to preach the good news, and chased them away from his house.
When he died, he found himself before God for judgment. Suddenly, his life appeared in a movie. Everything he had done was shown before his eyes and before all the saints and angels. He saw himself in prostitution, in drunkenness, in lying, in stealing… he judged himself unworthy and went to hell for eternity.
At the same time, the life of another man was described who had lived in sin but who, having accepted Jesus Christ as his Lord and Savior, had received forgiveness. His life had become new; he was now going to church to hear and practice the word of God. He preached the Gospel to others and contributed financially to God’s work. He spent his time in prayer and service to God. When he died, he was deemed worthy and went to heaven.
These two pictures presented me with a choice: hell or heaven. The verse that brought tears to my eyes was Ecclesiastes 12:18, “For God will bring every work into judgment, whether it be good or evil.” At that very moment I recognized that I was guilty and deserved to go to hell. I began to weep bitterly, and I
understood that Jesus died for the forgiveness of my sins.
At the end of this pamphlet, the author invited me to pray to ask God for forgiveness for my sins and to entrust my life to Jesus. After this prayer, I felt an inexplicable peace come over me. I understood that I had become a Christian. From that moment, my life and my feelings gradually began to change. I was now thirsty for God’s word.
My great difficulty was to find a church that was in line with my new faith. I had tried to join my old church, but I did not feel satisfied. I had wanted to hear the word of God but had found a heavy liturgy instead. I had gone to the Jehovah’s Witnesses but found only church critics. Among the Kimbanguists, I was disappointed by fabricated stories. Finally, I decided to pray alone at home according to what the author of the pamphlet had taught me.
Fortunately, I met a deacon, who coached me well, took me to church, taught me the hymns, and put me in contact with his pastor. Through Bible studies with EFCA (Evangelical Free Church of America) missionaries in Ubangi, the Holy Spirit helped me to grow rapidly in my faith. My life was restored, and I married my wife. We had five children.
At the beginning, after my conversion, I did not know that God had chosen me to shepherd his church. That’s why I chose to go to university. But during the year, God struck me with an illness during which He called me to serve Him full-time.
Please pray for Christian institutions that spread the good news through literature in general, and Synergie Francophone particularly, that the Lord will use them effectively for the salvation of many souls who are still in distress, and to reach out to people and countries closed to the Gospel. Please pray for me, that the Lord who called me through Christian literature may equip me to become a producer and distributor of Christian literature at a time when people have become allergic to public evangelistic campaigns. Christian
literature remains a powerful means in God’s hands for the salvation of many souls throughout the world.
Dr. Roger Ibengi Dobe, Mth. Ph.D., , a researcher in Missiology at North-West University (NWU), SA, served as the Vice-President of the Evangelical Free Church in Congo, was a missionary to Haiti, and is founder of the Mission Evangélique du Congo Nord (MECON), which sends missionaries to work among the pygmies of the Likouala District, Congo. He is currently Professor of Missiology, Department of Theology, NEUES LEBEN (New Life) University, Kinshasa, DRC, which provides training for pastors.