[Please note: The word “Featured” on the left side above was NOT inserted by this blogger, but apparently was inserted by WordPress, and it cannot be removed. NO post in this blog is sponsored.]
The Bonus Book of the Week is “Congo Sole, How a Once Barefoot Refugee Delivered HOPE, FAITH, and 20,000 PAIRS OF SHOES” by Emmanuel Ntibonera with Drew W. Menard, published in 2021. This slim paperback volume included no index, and its writing contained occasional grammatical errors throughout. But it was suspenseful.
The oldest of nine surviving children, the author was born in April 1989. He grew up in the city of Bukavu near the Rwandan border, in the Democratic Republic of Congo (hereinafter referred to as “Congo”). Living conditions were primitive. Life-threatening conditions abounded, including malaria, poisonous snakes, bacteria-laden waterways (used for drinking), and jiggers (which burrow under the skin and reproduce; if not removed, they eventually prompt amputation of digits and limbs, but are easily prevented from doing any harm if people wear shoes!).
When the first Congo civil war started in 1996, the family fled on foot many miles to the author’s grandfather’s village in the mountains of Eastern Congo. They did hard manual labor– growing cassava, tending to pigs, and herding cows and goats. If they shot a rabbit with a bow and arrow, they ate it. When the author was about eight years old, he, his father (who was a preacher and small-businessman) and two younger brothers walked back to Bukavu. His father’s dry-goods store had been looted and trashed.
It had been only a few years after the genocide in neighboring Rwanda. Child-soldiers and refugees were still pouring into the Congo, and clashing with rival tribes. In 1997, the regime change in the Congo led to yet more atrocities, including raping of females of all ages. The author and his younger brother had somehow been warned not to be lured into joining the ranks of the child-soldiers. They ran away when recruiters came to call and offered sweets.
While nearly starving to death and suffering many hardships, the author’s family truly believed that petitionary prayer worked for them. At least, people’s outlook improves with petitionary prayer, as it has a placebo effect. People who have a bible that’s falling apart, usually aren’t.
However, one burning question that can’t be answered is: What is the percentage of people for whom petitionary prayer failed (who are unable to triumphantly say that it worked for them) because they died?
Read the book to learn: how the family survived, and about many more details on how the author came to start a foundation (hint: “…for the Congolese children, a pair of shoes was a treasure, not a fleeting status symbol to be discarded for the next trend. It wasn’t about a brand, logo, or label there; it was about protection, vitality. About hope.”)