D.R. Congo Container I:
Swahili Hymnbooks, Books & French Books

In the ‘50s Ed and Gertrud Harlow served as missionaries in what is now known as the D.R. Congo. Their interest from early years was always to promote Bible knowledge with the help of the printed page. Ed was one of the co-founders of Emmaus Bible School and Gertrud helped in the translation of the Swahili Bible in her earlier missionary career. Everyday Publications was ‘born’ because of the sense of need for good literature in third world areas. 

Through political maneuvers the Congo became known as Zaire and then, more recently, changed its name again into what we know today as The Democratic Republic of Congo or ‘D.R. Congo.’ It is a dramatic oversimplification to put into such few words what actually took place to bring events to where they are today. Thousands fled from towns and villages to form refugee camps in Uganda. Lives were senselessly taken, including those of many Christians. Entire towns and villages were pillaged and ransacked. It seemed that nothing was sacred or spared by this inter-tribal warfare. This has been going on for more than 10 years. 

Gertrud Harlow, now residing in Florida, comments: “We need to remember that the folks out there lost virtually EVERYTHING, including Bibles and books.” 

In 2006, with a lull in the fighting and the scenario somewhat calmer, the idea was presented (with Gertrud’s influence as well as missionaries from those parts) to send a bulk supply of literature from Everyday Publications via ocean container to help replace at least some of the materials that had been vandalized, burned or otherwise destroyed by intruding militants. 

Harold MacDougall, Production Manager of EPI, was enlisted and soon had a 20 foot container in place at the back of the shop. Gertrud supplied a suggested list for the literature that should be shipped. Most of the literature for the project had to be printed in the EPI shop on the new digital presses. These included a variety of Swahili commentaries, written earlier by the Harlows, as well as several thousand EPI Bible commentaries that had been translated and that Gertrud had typeset in French. A special printing of 7,000 copies was done commercially of a devotional called, Daily Light, along with approximately 5,000 copies of a Swahili hymnal. With the help of volunteers from several area assemblies and fellow EPI staff the books were shrink wrapped for protection against humidity, packed into boxes and lovingly loaded onto the container. 

When the unit, now weighing 13 tons, was full, a heavy duty crane was rented to lift it onto a flatbed truck. It was taken from Port Colborne to Montreal and by ship to the African continent. In about 3 months the container arrived in Kampala, Uganda, and from there was taken overland to Bunia. 

One of the African brethren reported, “All the books arrived safely on October 22, 2006. Now we must decide how to allocate them as God’s field these days is very large, larger than before. There are more than 220 assemblies now.” 

Pearl Winterburn stated in her November/2006 Praise and Prayer letter: “Praise the Lord the container from Everyday Publications of much needed literature has arrived and is being distributed and received with much joy.” 

Gertrud Harlow further reported: “(Two) of the (African) brothers visited a central location in the area from where they made literature available to the assemblies in that region. They also made up packages for all the preachers and evangelists who work with assemblies of 100 people or more.” 

In a recent letter, Mert Wolcott wrote: “One of the unfortunate outcomes of these 10 years of war has been the destruction of Ngbulanzabo and the wonderful Bible School facility that had developed there. That has resulted in the formation of three Bible Schools in our area (Nyankunde/Bunia)…all struggling to survive…While I was in Congo I was approached by the director of the Aveba Bible School, pleading for funds to buy $150.00 worth of basic French books (concordance, commentaries, etc.) for the start of a library. All of the Ngbulanzabo library had been destroyed, and these Bible schools are restarting from zero. The books EPI sent are a special blessing, especially for the Bible Schools.” 

The shipment consisted of approximately 71,000 books in French and Swahili and the Lord marvelously provided the funds and the help to make it possible to print and ship the entire project without cost to the believers in D.R. Congo. We are grateful to the Lord for giving us this window and for His dear people who prayed for us and with us. Continue to pray with us that the books will be read and bring forth fruit in the lives of the readers for the glory of the Lord!
  Bill Letkeman, Feb/2007

Current article published in UPLOOK magazine 2007


In the ‘50s Ed and Gertrud Harlow served as missionaries in what is now known as the D.R. Congo. More…

We praise the Lord that the container arrived safely in Kampala, Uganda and from there too Bunia, D.R. Congo. More…

The remaining 55,000 books were printed, glued or stapled, trimmed and packed by EPI’s team. More…

Approximately 50,000 French and Swahili books about the Bible are being printed by EPI’s Production Manager, Harold MacDougall. More…

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