Eric Mango is here in Grand Rapids preparing for the mission conferences around Michigan. He will have the chance to share his testimony with the students at Grace Bible College during the missions conference. Eric’s story is one that will bring you to tears hearing of God’s plan and faithfulness in times of trouble. Everyone should have a chance to hear Eric’s story.
Eric Mongo’s story is long but a compelling story about how he began to trust God with his life. To try to shorten or pick out the ‘important’ parts of his testimony would be a crime and would be robbing you all of the beauty that is his testimony. In his own words, Eric Mongo describes his life and how he came to know our God.
I was born in a family of 12 in a place called Sange in Uvira (Democratic Republic of Congo). I did my primary school at “Sasira” and my secondary school at “Institute Technique Agricole De Kasenga” where I graduated with a Diploma in Agriculture; thereafter, I joined the University to study “Literature and African Cultures.” While at the University, the 1996 war began, so my studies were interrupted because all schools were declared closed and people started leaving the city in thousands.
As I was praying I did not feel peace about leaving, so I went to seek advice from my pastor who said he was not leaving either. (He said that he being a pastor was willing to die with the last person who remained in the city.)He gave freedom to any of his family members who wanted to leave and all left. We remained praying until the rebels took the city in ambush. When the city was in their hands, they began to break into houses to deal with those who remained. At that time they were not shooting people anymore but butchering them with knives. Before they reached us, we heard the neighbors screaming in agony as they were being butchered. When they knocked on our gate, the pastor said we should open the gate for them before they broke in. It was such a terrifying picture to see them in their uniforms–full of blood and holding bayonets that were still dripping blood. One of them asked the pastor to say his last words before they killed us. Then the pastor responded, “We were just waiting for you; do it quickly, we want to go to heaven.” Those rebels were amazed. One of them just grabbed the wrist- watch the pastor had put on and pushed him back saying, “We are coming back.” The other one looked at me and said, “Young man, today your life is in my hands.” Then they walked out. We went back in the prayer room, a room in the pastor’s house which was specifically used for prayers and nothing else. In there, the pastor told me, “Eric, I am going to die but as you remain hold on to faith, live for Christ and preach Him.” I tried to argue with him that we were all going to be killed because those guys never spared anyone, but shortly after that, they came back and one just shot the pastor and that man of God fell on his Bible and breathed his last.
When he was turning to shoot me, his fellow rebel grabbed the gun and took him outside. I remember him telling me while gnashing his teeth, “Young man, continue praying.” I remained seated there with the corpse for three days and came back to my senses towards the fourth day when the body started expanding and smelling. I went outside to see how I could dispose of the body. I was shocked to see the whole street full of nothing but dead bodies. I came back in the house but still could not endure the bad smell. I decided to go to our church. Since there were so many bodies on the way, I had no option but to jump over some and try to avoid others.
At the church, I found one of our deacons whose entire family was killed in the boat as they were trying to cross Lake Tanganyika to Tanzania. He helped me dig a grave and bury the pastor’s body. After a few weeks, people who had gone to the mountains started dragging themselves back into the city. When a number of people had come back, the rebel army started forcing young people to join them. But I felt I would not do that, so I decided to cross over to Tanzania with a group of seven other young people. It was so difficult for us to find a boat and at that time the rebels were also patrolling part of the lake. For three days we could not find any boats. I asked my friends if we could use a different boat, but some refused and got a boat the next day. Unfortunately, they were caught and killed in the lake. The remaining four of us, took a different direction and boarded a boat for Tanzanian fishermen. We happened also to be caught by the rebels in the lake, but instead of killing us, they just searched us and took the money we had and left. It so happened that we were caught four times by different groups, but the Lord kept on sparing our lives.
With the troubles we went through, the captain of the boat lost control such that he could not trace the direction and we ran out of fuel. We were supposed to travel for a day and only had food for a day, but we got lost in the lake and spent three and half days on the water. But by God’s grace we were finally rescued by other Tanzanian fishermen who took us to the shore and there we were served some food by ladies who had come to buy fish. We all knelt down and prayed, including a young man who was a Muslim; in fact, that became his turning point. While on my knees on the Tanzanian soil, I made a commitment to the Lord to live the rest of my life for Him (serving Him). After three and half days without eating, we were served some food with Tanzanian ladies who came to order fish at the lake and thereafter dragged ourselves into the nearby village. There I joined a church and started helping with the music.
At last I was picked by a gospel band based in Dar es Salaam to be their bass/lead guitar player. With this team, I started traveling to different places within Tanzania and Kenya to lead praise and worship in churches and in gospel crusades. The desire of doing school was still in me and after training another person to play base, I asked the team if they would allow me to go to South Africa to further my studies. The team raised funds for me to travel and connected me to a person who used to do business in South Africa. Unfortunately, when we reached Lilongwe where we were to change buses, the guy ran away from me and went with my money. As I was stuck at the bus station on a street known as “Devil’s Street” in Lilongwe, four thieves were on me and tore my coat in search of money which I did not have. I remember shedding a lot of tears. Late in the afternoon a Malawian who saw me crying approached me to find out what was happening. I explained to him what had happened and he decided to take me to his home.
On Sunday, we went to church together and he introduced me to his pastor and later on the church started supporting me. Since I had no documents allowing me to stay in town, I went to the immigration and later on I was taken to the refugee camp. There life became unbearable and the church in Lilongwe came to get me. I started teaching musical instruments at the church and leading the choir. After some time, I got a job as a French teacher in a private school where later on I met Rev. Kennedy Simtowe. He came to conduct a seminar on Evangelism at that school and I was greatly challenged by his teaching; I kept writing him even when he was back to Zambia. Another time he came to Lilongwe for a gospel crusade and the team I was leading helped lead in music. After the crusade I had a talk with him and the Lord used him to call me to Zambia for Bible training. I went to school two years at Zambia Grace Bible institute and thereafter Rev. Simtowe took me to serve with him in Malawi, but I was denied a visa in Lilongwe and was given just a day to leave the country.
I returned to Zambia and served as assistant pastor to Babu “Carl Moyer” at Grace Center. After some time my permit expired but when I tried to reapply, the permit was denied and I was given three days to leave the country. I shed more tears and wondered whether the Lord had any plans for me. I went to Tanzania and while there, a friend who lives in Australia asked if I could travel to Mozambique and there he would make some arrangements for me to join him. I left for Mozambique but nothing worked out. I just ended up staying in a refugee camp where I underwent an advanced training in suffering. Apart from experiencing terrible hunger, I was bitten by scorpions about thrice and I thought it was the end. Again Kennedy called me back and I decided to get a Burundi passport instead, especially since that is my mother’s origin. I went back to Zambia to attend a pastors’ seminar and I was asked to preach at Kamushanga main church where I met my wife Mercy.
Dan Moyer and Kennedy Simtowe made arrangements for Mercy and I to train in missions with Prochristo Global Missions (PGM/OM) and while there, we got married. When we completed our training with PGM, the Lord opened the door for us to come to TCCA. I completed my Bachelor’s degree with triple major (Pastoral, Education and Missions). Mercy is going in her third year and God willing she will complete her studies in December this year (2013).