As newlyweds, missionaries Don and Jenya Foster often stared past the barbed wire of their unfinished house in the Democratic Republic of Congo, into the dense wall of dark trees looming on the horizon. The Fosters had heard the sound of machine-gun fire grow louder and more frequent over the last several months, but nothing to show for it. Until one morning, they opened the door to find a young Pygmy boy, eyes obscured by a deep, bloody gash along the side of his head. The wound measured half the length of a machete. It was a grisly mark of the terrorist attack, which had ravaged the boy’s village nearby.
The Fosters treated the boy with care, and a few days after regaining his health, his younger brother appeared at their door. Word began to spread throughout the Pygmy villages as, one by one, children emerged from the forest.
By the end of 2016, the Fosters had two dozen Pygmy children under their care—including every child from the three closest villages. But this was no act of teenage rebellion: These children ranged in age from 3 to 10 years old. Instead of turning them away, the couple took this as a new assignment from the Lord. “I think He picked these children for us,” Don said. Before the Fosters gave them a home, many of these kids were treated like wild animals, physically abused, or exploited as beggars.
In order to provide for the children’s spiritual needs, the Fosters have relied solely on the Messenger.
Now every week in the local market, the Fosters buy pounds of chicken and rice to feed 24 bellies, clothing to cover and protect their exposed skin, and medicine to treat frequent bouts of typhoid and malaria. The children are also sent to a village school to learn the basics of math and spelling. But in order to provide for their spiritual needs, the Fosters have relied solely on the In Touch Messenger. In a world without any print or digital media—no newspapers, no television, no radio—the Messenger is the best possible tool for communicating the gospel. “It’s hard to imagine, but this is the only source,” Jenya said.
When Jenya first introduced the Messenger, the children were startled to hear a human voice from the small black box she held in her hand. They thought there was a man inside. When the man said “Hello” in Swahili, the children responded with delight. “Jambo!” they answered back. This small, solar-powered audio Bible has opened up the world of the scriptures to these young Pygmies in a way they can absorb and retain. “It instantly reaches their heart,” Don said.
Before he and Jenya married, Don remembers asking the Lord, “How do we reach these people?” Years later, God’s answer became clear when that first child showed up on his doorstep: The children are the key. Now the Fosters get to witness 24 unique souls growing in the knowledge of Christ every day. And despite the constant giving and pouring out, they cherish every child God has placed in their care as if they were their own flesh and blood. Because of the Fosters’ willing sacrifice—and their joy in serving— the next generation is learning how much they are loved by their heavenly Father, living day by day with a hope beyond this life.