Monthly Archives: March 2015

Spring 2017 Dollar for Dollar matching gift opportunity

Just like in Spring 2015 and 2016, the Spring 2017 matching gift opportunity has started.   It will end when ever the matching funds are depleted so act promptly.   International Ministries will match dollar for dollar all gifts given in response to this opportunity.  So each dollar you give goes twice as far and does two dollars of work in our ministry in DRC.

The details you need to know are:

– Any gift received in response to the matching gift opportunity after March 15 will be matched 100% until matching funds are depleted. There is no minimum or maximum gift (up to the dollar amount available to be matched which this year is $50,000).

– The opportunity will end  when the matching pool is depleted.  The sooner you give the better chance to have your funds matched.

– This matching gift effort is meant to encourage new donors, resumed giving of prior donors or increased giving of established donors. The matching gift opportunity is designed to stimulate over and above giving of current supporters. An individual could give a one-time gift, which would be doubled, and then choose to continue or start to support a missionary on a recurring basis, but those recurring gifts will not be matched.

Through International Ministries 

– The surest way to participate in this program is by making a gift on-line by credit card, or making a gift by phone by credit card.  Donations need to be mailing a check to International Ministries, it must be clearly noted in the memo of the check that the gift is part of the “Matching Gift Opportunity for Rice-Congo” (either through the response form, the memo line of the check, the special webpage that will be set up, or during the call to make the gift).  International Ministries mailing address P.O. Box 851 · Valley Forge, PA 1948

No more STIFF NECKED lab workers–By Katherine & Wayne Niles

“The nice thing about these units, they don’t give you a STIFF NECK!” said Mr. Kabata having finished assembling a new microscope.

The most common diseases in the tropics are diagnosed with a microscope.  Malaria, intestinal parisites, gardia, dysentary, turburculosis, and others are definitively diagnosed by seeing the affending culprit (often hundreds of them!) on a microscope slide.  Hence laboratory technicians (or ‘techs’) and their microscopes have been essential to providing health and healing at even the most remote health centers in Congo.

Mr. Kabata carefully unpacking microscopes for assembly. We had wooden boxes made for them for safe storage wherever they would be used.

You may recall that during our trip speaking in churches in Michigan last october (using funds many of you provide to support our work) we purchased four microscopes from World Wide Labs in Kalamazoo.  Many of our hospitals and health centers use ancient, primitive, almost unusable microscopes hence replacements are in constant demand.

Katherine and Dr. Lay look on as Mr. Kabata tries out a new microscope (well, poses for this picture actually).

In January we made a trip to Vanga to, among other things, deliver the new microscopes to Dr. Lay who pleaded for them for the Vanga Health Zone he supervises.  He in turn gave them to Mr. Kabata, the Health Zone lab tech supervisor, for assembly.  Mr. Kabata has years of experience working in hospitals and health centers and now supervises and trains the 25 lab techs in the Vanga zone.

Mr. Kabata demonstrates using a classic diagnostic microscope in the tropics, note the mirror below that can be turned in any angle and direction to pick up needed light.

It was rewarding watching him deftly unpack and assemble the microscopes with the care and delight of a skilled craftsman.  These microscopes came with LED lights powered by a small solar panel and battery pack so they can be used at night (and recharged by day).  Until recently, microscopes all over the tropics have depended on a sunny window so a mirror could reflect sunlight up through the specimen.

The greatest advantage of these new microscopes is the two angled objectives so you can look through them at a comfortable angle with BOTH eyes.  The standard unit used in Congo since forever has required closing one eye and craning your neck to look straight down into the thing.  You can imagine the effect on your neck as you sit for hours in a busy health center looking at specimens.

These microscopes, donated in Jesus’ name, are now being used daily to combat disease among some of the world’s neediest children and adults.  It is so rewarding to work with Christian brothers such as Dr. Lay and Mr. Kabata in the challenge of providing hope and healing in this world.  Please know that you also are ‘making a difference’ in your gifts and support to us and to American Baptist missions.

God bless you and thank you.

Katherine & Wayne Niles

Donate on line at

Or send a check to: American Baptist International Ministries  P.O. Box 851 · Valley Forge, PA 19482   Put “on-going support for Wayne & Katherine Niles” on the memo line.

What is a Health Zone?

A health zone is kind of like a county except the designation is not political but only for health purposes.  Health Zones originated in Congo and are a result of pioneering work by Christian missionary Dan Fountain, MD  to provide health to the entire population.

Essentially a health zone is:

  • 200,000 persons, more or less
  • Supported by a Reference Hospital
  • That is surrounded by 10-50 Health Centers scattered throughout the Health Zone
  • These Health Centers are located such that no one has to walk more than a day to reach a Health Center.  Ideally no one is more then 1-2 hours from a Health Center as is the case with the Vanga Health Zone that consists of 52 Health Centers serving the 250,000 persons in the Vanga Health Zone.
Congo superimposed on the US. The blue lines are the paved roads. There are hundreds of rivers and lots of sandy, muddy, awful dirt roads. Most rural folks get around on foot or by bicycle, hence the need for a scattered, decentralized health system to make health care accessible to everyone.


This is a diagram of the Nsona Mpangu health center, an area about the size of the state of Rhode Island.

In this diagram the red dots are some of the villages, the grey huts are Health Centers, and there are five Reference health centers that are better equipped and the central Reference Hospital at the former American Baptist Nsona Mpangu mission station.  The health centers are staffed by a nurse and a lab tech.  The nurse would be trained much like a Nurse Practitioner or Physician Assistant.

Health Centers may have once been called ‘dispensaries’ but they do far more than dispense medicine. Health centers treat 80% of the illness in their area and also promote good health in the population.




















Health Centers  activities include:

Curative care

  • Diagnosing and treating disease
  • Referring patients to the reference hospital for complicated cases
  • Assuring a local supply of medicines is always available

Preventive care – it is far cheaper to prevent disease than treat it

  • Holding vaccination clinics in surrounding villages
  • Holding prenatal clinics in surrounding villages
  • Holding preschool clinics in surrounding villages (following under-five’s growth in height and weight to catch illness or malnutrition early)

Promotional care

  • Promoting the use of mosquito nets against malaria, latrines against intestinal diseases
  • Encouraging communities to protect their water sources – assuring safe, potable water reduces the incidence of intestinal diseases in a village by 30%.
  • Encouraging communities to use proper sanitation (latrines for every household, proper trash disposal, controlling free ranging animals)
  • Promote family planning – Congo has one the most horrifyingly high maternal death during delivery statistics in the world.  Spacing, reducing the number of pregnancies a women has, is lifesaving.

Each Health Zone has a central office staffed by a Physician who supervises (visits) all the nurses in their health centers to collect statistics, provide medicine, see that the routine work (vaccinations and clinics) is happening properly in the zone.

Health Centers (and their nurses) are supported by community organizations that provide them with a house, garden, and assist in the work of the center.  For example they would announce the next vaccination visit planned by the nurse in a village and assure families with children needing to be vaccinated were present at the appointed time and place.

Here is the current (2015) map of Congo’s 512 Health Zones. The colored zones are co-managed (along with the government of Congo) by church groups because they originated out of Christian mission work in the Congo beginning as early as the late 1800’s. The pink zones are co-managed by Protestant churches, the blue zones by Catholic churches.



Because the zones are population based, they vary in size from a few city blocks to the size of a mid-western state in the US.   This document was modified from original source at this link.  

You can learn more about the history and development of Congo’s Health Zones on line at:

The presentation linked above dates from around 2006 but has tons of interesting pictures.