As children, Alphonsine, her sister Solange and two younger brothers arrived in Perth from Africa in 2003 as UNHCR refugees. They had sought refuge following an attack on their village near Goma in the Democratic Republic of Congo [DRC]. They had been separated from their parents who they believed had been killed by militants in the ongoing civil war in the DRC. The family group was assigned to the St Philips Wakimbizi Group established by Graham Whitley about 20 years ago. It had been ten years since Graham was last in touch with Alphonsine when she contacted him recently. When they met, Graham was even more surprised to learn of her recent experience. This is her story:
Around 2005 Solange was able to establish that her parents were alive and living in DRC. At first they connected in DRC by phone and then Solange visited, followed later by Alphonsine. It was a joyous reunion. However, whilst in Africa, Alphonsine was struck by the pitiful condition of many villagers, who were either widowed, orphaned or disabled as a result of the civil war.
For some years prior to this visit Alphonsine had a sense of being summoned by God to a higher calling. This awareness increased following her return to Australia. She felt compelled by God to respond to the human plight she had witnessed in Africa. So drawing on her own savings she purchased and filled a sea container with old clothes and other goods provided by friends and other contacts. She even bought goods from St Vincent de Paul to fill the container. She committed almost all her savings to this.
Uncertain as to her next action, she soon had a dream in which she was told to accompany the container to Africa where she would be met by a person who would direct her to the recipients of the goods. Her savings were now all but spent. In prayer to God she contested her capacity to fulfil His direction, but was reminded of Gideon and reassured that God would provide for her every need.
While staying with friends in Kampala awaiting the arrival of the container, she met a woman socially who mentioned in passing a village she knew of which was totally inhabited by widows, orphans and people disabled by war, apparently entirely uncared for other than by each other. That lady knew nothing of Alphonsine’s purpose in Africa, nor had she ever met her before.
That night Alphonsine experienced another encounter with God in which she was told that the woman she had met was the one who was appointed to lead her to the village. So Alphonsine hired a truck, a driver and an interpreter. She located the female visitor from the previous day and gained directions to the village, some 8 hours drive from Kampala.
When she arrived at the village, it was immediately recognisable to her from a vision she had previously experienced. Furthermore, the residents of that village were expecting her and were jubilant on her arrival!
The goods were distributed and received with much joy and weeping. It appeared that UNHCR and other NGOs were either reluctant or unable to provide for these poor souls.
Again in a dream, God spoke to Alphonsine telling her to immediately start a charity to continue the support of these people. She was reassured that He would provide for all her needs but that she should pursue this task immediately.
On her return to Australia in 2016 Alphonsine established the charity and named it Christian Ebenezer [The Lord helps] Jireh [The Lord provides] (1 Samuel 7:12). Her intention is to ‘crowd fund’ the project which is currently supplying requirements to poor refugees living in Uganda, Kenya and Tanzania through voluntary contributions.
Alphonsine, who is employed as a support worker, has committed all of her non-essential income to her charity – amounting to about $150,000 to date. She is totally devoted to and fulfilled by this calling and describes it as “an irresistible power commanding her entire being”. She will marry in Africa soon and return to Australia in 2019.
Graham and Malcolm