Don Foster’s motorcycle speeds down the bumpy gravel roads of the Congo. With a backpack full of In Touch Messengers, he heads toward a Mbuti Pygmy village full of people who have never heard the name of Jesus. As he rides, he can see smoke rising from nearby villages—a common sight in an area under siege. Foster’s choice to spread the gospel in a nation attacked by Islamic extremists may seem like a death wish, yet there was once a time when Foster was ready to give up his life for a cause far less noble.
As a teenager, Foster was addicted to drugs and alcohol and found himself on the verge of committing suicide. On his knees, he made a promise: If he saw someone step in front of a bus, he would push that person out of the way and take his place. That’s when he heard a voice say, “You don’t have to die for anyone. I died for everyone.” It was Foster’s first encounter with the living God, and it completely transformed his life.
Soon after, Foster knew that God was calling him to missions, though it would be 15 years before he would obey. By then a successful businessman, he was listening one Sunday morning to a sermon on television. It was Dr. Stanley who explained that many get called to the mission field, but they marry, have kids, take on a mortgage, and never go. Foster wrestled with this but finally began the painful process of surrender.
He sold everything he owned, including his business.
Over the next seven years, he sold everything he owned, including his business. The last thing he gave up was his memory foam mattress. This final sacrifice of first-world comfort proved a stark contrast to the machine-gun fire he now falls asleep to—and the many times he’s been bedridden with typhoid and malaria.
Though Foster and his wife Jenya currently live only miles from a village where a massacre recently occurred, they still believe the safest place to be is at the center of God’s will. “I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else just because it’s safe,” Foster says. “I think that would be dying.”
In the meantime, Foster continues making regular motorcycle trips to bring the Word of Life to those on the brink of death. He keeps at it because there’s always one more village—one more person—with a desperate need to hear Christ’s message of salvation.
Photograph by Tommy Trenchard