As Country Director in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Denis Hangi is responsible for ensuring teachers are teaching effectively, students are receiving the highest quality of education, and classes are supplied with the appropriate curriculum materials and Bibles. Responsibilities he must carry out in a war-ravaged region, home to violent outbreaks and grinding poverty. After a devastating rebel attack left the city of Kitchanga in ruins, Denis quickly found his way to our local teacher, Pastor Bulenda Placide. It turns out there is no pastor-training chapter on what to do in the event of a town being caught in the crosshairs of war. There is no “how-to” on handling homes burned to the ground. There is no “how-to” on how to counsel families torn apart.

Pastor Bulenda, a graduate of our two-year program, and Denis, a leader in that program, both see through the lens of the Bible – trust in the Lord, gratitude for His gifts large and small, faithfulness amidst chaos. Leadership in this situation looked like picking up the pieces and restoring the community that is home to several of our students.

The community voted to rebuild the teacher’s home. They raised some funds locally and asked African Leadership USA to help. We agreed, and Bulenda’s house was built.

Says Pastor Bulenda, “though you are not seeing me, the tears of joy are flowing in my eyes for this miracle God has done to me. What I feel in my heart and mind is to be convicted that we can miss parents, brothers, relatives, but GOD will still be our father who takes care of us. In seven months of troubles God provided to me food, clothes, now I have my own house.”

This is what we mean when we refer to our core teaching program as “Applied Education.” This is learning that moves beyond the classroom, learning that can be applied or related to any circumstance, learning that stems from a heart not only opened by theological education, but transformed by the Holy Spirit.

The effect of such education stretches far beyond Denis and Bulenda. It is present across the continent: Mr. Chete and Mr. Chirwa serving orphans at a school in Malawi, Pastor Abebe embracing his role in the community by supporting children being raised by single mothers in Ethiopia. The transformative process is alive and at work in all of these cases and in all of these leaders – leaders who matter in the hard places.