Disciples of Christ Community in Congo Newsletter, June 2007
Information Bulletin #2, June, 2007
Disciples of Christ Community in Congo EDITORIAL
Information Bulletin #2, June, 2007
Disciples of Christ Community in Congo
“He who counts on his friend sleeps without supper” says a proverb. Following that wisdom the Disciples Community promotes a strategy of self responsibility of the Church for members and the parishes to show what they can do to build up the Church.
To sensitize and encourage the Disciples of Christ in Congo to take charge of their church, the Administrative Committee made a long trip, in the most risky conditions, across the posts of the Tshuapa axis as far as Opala. We hope to taste the first fruits from this trip through the material participation of the posts at the next General Assembly.
In the cities of Kinshasa and Mbandaka, the fruits of local effort are already evident for in Kinshasa the pastors are paid regularly according to a single scale and the Support Committee of Mbandaka has just equipped the Office of the Pasteur Surveillant Principal with a room and computer setup.
Now that everyone shares in this attitude of challenge, our first test a violent wind which shook the city of Mbandaka and damaged our social structures, two schools and our Welcome Center, leading to appeals for funds that would have been used for the General Assembly. Next, a fire at the munitions depot of the military camp, Capitaine Ngashi of Mbandaka. Tthough it caused less damage to the infrastructures of the church, it impaced our members, either physically or through their possessions.
We remember sadly that it was in this same period that the fire of our Bolenge hospital razed that instrument of public interest. Would it be a sign of the times? Let each of us ask ourselves where we are on the eve of a new mandate for the Business Committee, as well as for the office of the General Assembly and the Administrative Council. May each of us prepare spiritually for the success of our next General Assembly. That will be possible only if we all work for the community interest and if we undertake the commitment to work in peace.
Rev. Eliki Bonanga
THE 10-DISCIPLES OF CHRIST COMMUNITY IN PRAYER
Prayer is a primordial element in the life of a Christian, but very often people put it in second place to their other interests. It is at the time of prayer that the believer enters into communication with his Father who is in heaven, and who wants to provide for all his needs.
The Department of Evangelization, Church Life and Mission has understood this necessity, and it is in the framework of reawakening the faith and the spirituality within the 10-CDCC that the Rev. Clement Mputu Yonganga, head of the Department of Evangelization, Church Life and Mission, organized an evening of prayer with the intercessors of Mbandaka in the parish of Mbandaka III on 25-26 May. More than 300 people took part in that special evening of praise, adoration, and intercession. Convinced that a just prayer has great effective, the intercessors prayed intensely for God to look with favor on our country, our Church, and our American and German partners. Other particular problems relative to daily life were raised and were the object of special prayers. We point out that those evenings of prayer are in the framework of the organization of groups of intercessors of the parishes and the church posts. Already the posts of Mbandaka and Kinshasa are organized in networks, and regularly hold their prayer meetings, evenings of prayers, and prayer chains. The posts of Bolenge and Boende will be organized in networks very soon. The DEVEM has declared the trimester, June to August, as “months of intense prayer” across all the Community.
E. Boango Nkolito
MAJORETTES IN THE DOMINICAL WORSHIP SERVICES OF THE 10-CDCC IN MBANDAKA
The Bible teaches us that the Lord of Armies, the God of glory sits in a milieu of praises. King David applied this at the time of transporting the Ark of the Covenant. The CDCC, wanting this truth to be lived, continually brings innovations. After the activities of the EBB (church women) from the 60’s until now, a new gift has been added, majorettes. These are young girls, from 8 to 12 years old, who, contrary to the origin of the word which means it is young girls dressed in fancy military uniforms performing games with the help of a drum-major during a parade, our young girls don’t parade, but dance during the celebration of worship to glorify God. Their dances accompany the popular songs of praise and adoration. The choreographic richness of their dances displays an intense joy and the belief that at the last day, when the trumpets sound, the Lord will return to take back his own.
Today five parishes of the CDCC Mbandaka are embellished by Majorettes; the parishes of Mbandaka III, Nouvelle Cité, Bongondjo, Ikongowasa, and Air Congo. This new experience, as are all others, is appreciated by the pastors in various ways. Some think the presence of majorettes makes the worship service more lively, even though they have difficulty backing up their choice with Bible verses. Others, less enthusiastic about the presence of majorettes, think it would be wise to first research the clear and convincing bases. In any case, it remains evident that the children must find the Church attractive, and another way of doing this is to create attractive conditions which justify their presence and making them feel important during a worship service.
E. Boango Nkolito
WIND HAS STRUCK THE CDCC
Violent winds blew in Mbandaka, first from the west on Friday, May 11, 2007, about 1 p.m., then in the opposite direction on Saturday, May 12, about 10 a.m. It is estimated that the force of this devastating storm, which crossed the city, sparing the north and south parts, was 75 mph. Some houses were carried away in this corridor of violence. Some buildings were damaged, especially schools.
It is the case of the Teachers’ Training College (ISP) of Mbandaka which lost the roofs off two buildings housing the commercial section. The Disciples Community suffered the most damage, especially its schools: the girls’ school, Lycée Nsang’ea Ndotsi, had three buildings damaged; the side bloc, used by students of 1st and 2nd secondary, lost the roof of five rooms; the covered walkway that leads from the laboratory to the central building was blown away; and the roof of the storeroom of the dormitory was swept away and struck the corner of the central building causing damage.
Finally, the Boyaka Institute, built in the Losanganya neighborhood, was damaged. Part of the roof that covers three classrooms was blown away, and the roof of the kitchen of the welcome center of Losanganya was blown off. The damage caused by that tornado will cost thousands of American dollars for the CDCC to repair the schools and the welcome center. It is said that misfortune never comes alone. This storm came at the time the students were in a critical period of final year-end exams and accelerated courses, and during preparation for the General Assembly.
THE MUNITIONS DEPOT OF CAMP NGASHI IN MBANDAKA IN FLAMES
On Sunday, June 17, 2007, the population of Mbandaka was awakened at 3:30 local time by the sounds of heavy arms fire. Entire families deserted their houses, not knowing where to go in the total darkness of moonless tropical nights. It was only toward 5 a.m. that an announcement over the radio stated the munitions depot of Camp Ngashi, the largest camp in Mbandaka and located right in the urban center, had caught fire, causing the explosion of munitions which went in every direction throughout the neighborhood, putting lives at risk.
That morning, the Mbandaka Red Cross had succeeded in evacuating 45 wounded, 9 seriously and 1 dead. Public buildings, especially the Provincial Administrative Building, the Provincial Assembly Building, the Provincial Court Building, the Church of Mbandaka III, were damaged. Camp Ngashi itself no longer exists. Fortunately, the sick who were hospitalized in the same building as the arms depot, were evacuated in time after the first alert. Many private houses in the neighborhood were also affected. The origin of this deadly incident still remains unclear, but one thing is certain: thousands, if not millions, of dollars have gone up in flames. What a waste! Money that could have
been used for the construction of schools, hospitals, and even centers for the recuperation of street children whose number continue to grow. Keenly, peace without arms.
MEMBERS OF AIDS COMMITTEE INSTALLED AT INGENDE
The Reverend Alain Imbolo Lokalamba went to Ingende to install the local committees for the fight against AIDS. Ingende is a center located at a crossroads. It is at the junction of the Momboyo and Busira Rivers and also on the national route leading to Boende, Ikela, then Kisangani, so it is understood why the level of prevalence of HIV/AIDS is very high at Ingende. Numbers are not available because the population does not voluntarily go to be screened, but the medical personnel are clear: AIDS is very much present.
In his program, the Rev. Alain Imbolo has begun by training 33 people to the required standard before creating two committees, one presided over by Mr. Bienvenu Ndeela, which will supervise the work across all the post, and the other for the parish of Ingende Center. The Committee of the Post will have the responsibility to install the other parish committees. The next stage of this campaign of sensitization and installation of committees in the parishes will be the Post of Boyeka in the Territory of Bikoro. On July 16, at Mbandaka, the Rev. Imbolo will meet with representatives of all the posts in a seminar for trainers in the fight against AIDS. This seminar will take place around the General Assembly of the ECC/10-CDCC.
The CDCC has finally integrated the fight against HIV/AIDS among its priorities in order to bring its contribution toward the eradication of that plague.
CALAMITIES ARE TEMPTATIONS
We continue to deplore the damage caused by a series of violent winds which blew away part of the school infrastructures of the 10-CDCC. The additional destruction from the fire in the military camp of Mbandaka, continues to raise a lot of questions. Have people displeased God? But the Bible shows that such events will certainly happen; however, it won’t yet be the end of time. We must remain faithful to God for He will not permit His children to be tempted beyond their faith. However, we don’t know the day, nor the hour that He has fixed for the end of each of us. This victim of the explosions at camp Ngashi of Mbandaka died while she was directing a prayer watch. Was she ready? We hope so. But will we have the same luck? Let’s pray constantly for He guarantees us that He will be with us until the end of time even if other “Tsunamis” occur.
AFTER THE RAIN COMES GOOD WEATHER
The series of calamities noted here foreshadow a radiant future for our people. They give more lessons about the use of our environment by those who govern and those governed. If experience is the sum of setbacks, then it is a time for reflecting and taking precautions about urban constructions, the use of our forests, storage practices, the use of industrial waste, etc. The 10-CDCC, being a living community, must be more involved in the struggle for balance of the ecosystem, denounce practices which are of such a nature as to endanger the life of is members and the population in general.
VISIT OF DR. ILANGA
Dr. Andre Ilanga Lokula, ad interim medical coordinator and the heads of the other departments, returned from their visit to the hospitals. This first visit permitted Dr. Lokula to personally experience our health facilities and the devotion of the personnel, in spite of the lack of material and medicines which add to the deterioration of the buildings built a long time ago by our missionaries. His conclusions are no different from the report made by Dr. Johnson at the time of his last visit to the DRC. If improvements are noted it is thanks to the energy of the doctors who attract other organizations to intervene. The details of his report are discussed in connection with the meetings of July 2007.
The taking of responsibility for the Community by the base, a strategy of the team of Rev. Eliki Bonanga, is no longer empty words. Actions continue to multiply. In fact, after the big operation, local effort (whose results will be presented at the next General Assembly), organized in their own way to support the Church. Already in Kinshasa the pastors receive their monthly fixed salary permitting them to be organized with family budgets, without which it is not possible to live in a cosmopolitan city of more than seven million, like Kinshasa. Mbandaka has just followed in the footsteps of Kinshasa, not in the matter of pay of the pastors who receive a salary proportional to the monthly offerings, but in equipping the office of the Pasteur Surveillant Principal, Rev. Ilumbe Ndjongo, with a room and computer setup consisting of a Pentium IV CPI desktop, a 17 inch screen monitor, and a HP F 317 printer. This modern equipment, which permits Pastor Ilumbe to not only send his own correspondence, but to save and manage the data of the post for easy administration of the Urban Support Committee, was presented on Sunday, May 27, 2007, in a grand worship service at the Mbandaka III church by the president, Jean Robert Nkolito Eboya. After having organized a support committee in the parish, the Nehemiah Support Group, President Eboya passed the reins of the committee to his brother, Portos Mwamolanda, to take care of all the parishes of the city of Mbandaka. We note that this action is not the first of the Urban Support Committee which has intervened in all the parishes to support activities, but it is the first of its kind, both by its pertinence (modern equipment for an urban post), and for its cost of more than $1,000. The editors of the BID encourage the Urban Support Committee of Mbandaka and its president, and wishes them good luck in this kind of action. It is an example to follow.
The church post of Bosobele has a “sister” relationship with its development. It is in part a reality that can be seen at first glance by the dynamism of the faithful of this post in particular, but also of the population of Bomongo in general. While the executive of the Community set out, since the end of July 2003, to sensitize the base about taking responsibility for the 10-CDCC by the faithful, Bosobele is way ahead in this regard. In fact, in spite of what appearances sometimes suggest, at Bosobele everyone is active and everything functions. In spite of the grave consequences of the armed conflicts known in this part, from north to south, from east to west, our parishes are built solidly by the faithful. What they most often lack are metal roofing sheets, cement, and lumber, but they always manage to succeed thanks to the spirit of solidarity of their brothers who go to Kinshasa and Mbandaka. For activities of this post we must mention the construction of 95 percent of the schools that are there, housing for the teachers, chapels, the Bosobele clinic, health centers, pastors’ houses, and restarting the raising of livestock after the systematic pillage practiced by the military during the rebellions.
With regard to training, Bosobele, across its parishes and entities, has already sent pastors and lay people for higher studies. Pastor Dasanguao is getting his degree at the Congo Protestant University, Nurse Bokuango has returned to Bosobele after his studies of ophthalmology, and young people are currently at the Higher Institute of Medical Technology. Some associations gather to fight against the phenomenon of abandoned children. In brief, this is a post with a dynamic population to organize for the betterment of the 10-CDCC.
This post of the 10-CDCC was created in 1947 at Ifumo Isaka, 15 kilometers from the present mission, Ifumo Bafake. We point out that it was Reverend Hobgood (Is’ea Mbunga) who moved the headquarters of the post to Ifumo Befake. It is a post born from the post of Lotumbe according to information in our possession. There was a school and other buildings which were the pride of the country. The economic and political debacle of our country didn’t spare this post after the departure of missionaries. It was necessary to wait for the courageous decision of the present staff directing the Community to see things change with the naming of a new Pasteur Surveillant in 2006, Reverend Dieudonne Ekoto, surnamed Reverend Engandolo Whitmer in view of the dynamism of that person and his impulse for development in memory of the missionary who built Ifumo. Among the activities of the new Pasteur Surveillant, we must mention the rehabilitation of the residence of the PSP and the administrative office, clearing and fixing up part of the path connecting the post with Monkoto, collective fields of 32 hectars in different places. This last local project of fields was appreciated by WWF, an American NGO, who supported it with the most necessary items such as machetes, hoes, seed, wheelbarrows, etc. He has already purchased three cows to start a herd for the post and he will extend this to the interior parishes. He has also built two thatched-roof chapels. The big difficulty for this post presently remains the means of transport by river for exporting products, a means of communication (radio for example), and metal roofing for the chapels, schools, and health centers already built. In brief, the post has just taken off and needs some support.
POSTE OF KIRI
Located more than 300 kilometers from Mbandaka, Kiri is one of the church posts of the 10-CDCC founded by former missionaries. It is in the province of Bandundu. The report that came to our editors tells of intense administrative and pastoral activities on the part of the PSP, Reverend Ndjombo. The difficulties of communication with the headquarters led the leaders of the church to make use of a secondhand radio. We have just learned that the PSP has built and remodeled some chapels. In the framework of the reform and especially concerning local effort, the post has community fields in the parishes. However, some difficulties still exist, such as transportation and poverty of the members, which have repercussions on the post finances. There is also a lack of work tools for development; machetes, hoes, agricultural equipment. The post needs a sawmill to make use of available wood to solve the problem of benches in the schools and chapels, as well as doors and windows. The lack of Bibles and songbooks is deplorable in this corner of the community, and we hope a solution can be found so the most destitute will at least have the Holy Scriptures to ease their daily suffering.
POST OF WINI
The church post of Wini is an offshoot of the post of Boende, Wema, and Bokungu and is 630 kilometers from Mbandaka on the Tshuapa. Reverend Victor Lokongo is the interim PSP. Belandje has been ill since before the 2005 Assembly. According to the information we have received, the Community President has just obtained the legal documents for the new concession of the post, the first having been invaded by villagers. In this concession, and with local means, four houses have been built for the PSP, the School Director, the Prefect of Studies, and the pastor of the parish. The Bofanya Institute, with its 12 classes for the sections of pedagogy and biochemistry is not yet accredited. The post also experiences difficulties for supplying most of its health centers with medications. Finally, Wini is landlocked without means of communication, and there is the problem of transportation which could help the directors to make regular visits to the base.
Post of Bosobele
The Evangelical Hospital of Bosobele is currently functioning without medicine after the desertion by Dr. Julien Mizele, who is probably now in South Africa. A young ophthalmologist, Mr. Bokwango Etonga, has become the interim director of the hospital. After his appointment he called a series of meetings to organize the hospital services and began reactivating this hospital institution, which is of great importance for the populations of the Ngiri and the Ubangi in the Territory of Bomongo.
POST OF BONGINDJI
Four years after its creation, the post of Bongindji, created in 2003 after the dividing up of the post of Lotumbe, allowed the population to feel the presence of the CDCC. The PSP, Reverend Boloko Lofembe, is doing his best to resolve several problems which confront this post, such as the displacement of the site toward Waka, and the insufficiency of trained staff. In the framework of local effort, we must mention the construction of houses for the PSP, the churches at Eungu, Lokondole, Ifoku, Bokolongo. Also the activities of raising livestock are going ahead with pigs, chickens, and community fields. In the absence of public power, the post is making an effort in the development by building the bridge linking the Momboyo River and the locality of Bongindji. Transportation and communication, followed by poverty of the members, are difficulties encountered. The absence of agricultural tools and lack of staff constitute a handicap.
BOLENGE HOSPITAL ONE YEAR AFTER THE FIRE
It was the night of January 13, 2006, toward 11:15 when a fire of unknown origin occurred at the Bolenge Hospital, consuming the entire property. This unfortunate event, which shook up the whole community, put numerous workers and their families, as well as the population of Mbandaka and Bolenge, in difficulty. One year later we can at least rejoice in the involvement of our exterior and interior partners who have been willing to install, temporarily, the services of that hospital in the former installations after some remodeling work. But the large part of the population ardently wish that a worthy hospital be rebuilt for the present conditions are far below the normal minimum standards. Wednesday, June 13, the workers of that institution observed a minute of silence in front of the debris of what had been a year earlier their place of work. Hope brings life and each person there wishes for its reconstruction in a format that is satisfying to both users and donors.
HOW TO ASSURE THE TRANSPORT OF DELEGATES
The General Assembly, which will take place in principle from the 23rd to the 27th of July at the Mbandaka Girls’ School, should bring together more than 150 delegates coming from all the posts. This will require four m3 of gasoline and 160 liters of oil. So the Administrative Committee tackled the problem by asking boys and girls of the 10-CDCC to contribute for the success of this program. For this appeal, and although finances are lacking, certain willingness has already been expressed. We hope that the PSPs will have something to contribute towards food in order to feed a minimum 150 people for 14 days. We don’t lose hope because the enthusiasm leaves us hoping. Besides the delegates from the interior, 11 people have to come from Kinshsa by air. The 10-CDCC should, in coming days, modify its regulations to diminish the number of delegates to the Assembly, not only to limit the expense, but also to have quality of delegates in order to have good constructive debate.
THE LIFE OF OUR RETIRED PASTORS
They are numerous, scattered across our posts, often living in intolerable conditions. They are the same people who have served the Lord, living in large part without sure resources. The unfortunate situation in which they are living today is a logical consequence of the absence of a good policy in the past about this situation. Added to this is the present financial difficulty of our Community. That’s why retired pastors from overseas have thought about the life of their colleagues and the widows of pastors and take up an offering once a year to help them. The most prudent among them prepared during the time they were working. This is the case of Reverend Jean Inkale Y’Onyaa whose wife, Mrs. Jeanne Bolumbu, sells soft drinks and cold water to ease, however little, the suffering. Reverend Inkale has a herd of cattle and large fields and a palm plantation in the Mbandaka back country. Must we say that from now on it is a solution for the many who stagnate in total misery? Must we conclude for such a case that selling soft drinks satisfies their basic needs?
ECHOES OF IKENGO
Ikengo is the agro-pastoral center of the 10-CDCC where the engineer, Celestin Engelemba, works to the great satisfaction of everyone. At the time of the last visit of Bishop Songo, first vice-president of the Church of Christ in Congo, Ikengo has become a place attracting international organizations like OXFAM, UNICEF, WHO, FAO and PAM, political and administrative personalities, and families going there regularly. Where there is only a road, development follows. It is in this framework that we must place the upkeep of the road linking Secli and Ikengo from now on under the responsibility of the Center of Ikengo. It is supported by FAO and PAM, in collaboration with the Congolese government. We are assured from now on that with this recognition, engineer Celestin has new breath to better provide, not only for the local population and the 10-CDCC, but for the general interest. The road requires permanent maintenance. So we ask government partners to keep this in mind. To accompany the efforts of development of our Center of Ikengo, OXFAM has just built a permanent school building.
REMEMBER WHY YOU SHOULD PRAY
It’s all you have to do. It is so little. Prayer is one of the best gifts (not to say the best) that you receive. It costs nothing, but has many rewards. Be assured and pray today and believe that God will fulfill it. May the peace of God and the refreshing of the Holy Spirit be in your thoughts, take control of your dreams tonight, and may all your fears be overcome in the name of Jesus. May God Himself be evident today in a manner you have never before experienced. May your joyous desires be accomplished, your dreams realized, and your prayers fulfilled. We pray that your faith will take on a new dimension; that your territory be enlarged, and that you take another big step forward in the ministry to which Christ has called us. We pray for peace, health, happiness, and the true everlasting Love of God, the Holy Trinity for life.
The Editors of BID
Prof Masiala at Mbandaka
The Protestant University of the Equator was honored during the month of May 2007 by the visit of Professor Masala of the Protestant University of Congo. This eminent personality of the Congolese scientific world came to do some teaching at the UPE Bolenge and he took advantage of his visit to organize conferences, debates, and meetings both with the Mbandaka scientific world and the local press. We note that every year the Protestant University of the Equator, directed by the Revrtrnf Dr. Benjamin Mpombo Lokofe, receives Congolese and German visitors, among others the retired pastor Ulrich Strunck, who comes regularly to share his experience with the future pastors. Also visiting was Professor Nkwim, who held a fruitful working session with more than 50 pastors from Bolenge and Mbandaka.
When a Visa Prevents Brothers from Getting Together
The delegation of youth from Dianga and Ingende who should have taken part in a youth camp and church day in Cologne, upon invitation of their partners in Dusseldorf, Mettmann, were unable to travel because of the lack of visas. The Embassy of the Federal German Republic refused visas to the young Congolese. That decision was made following the running away last year of a large group of young Congolese Catholics who had gone to Cologne at the time of the first visit of Pope Benedict XVI. Efforts, including an intervention by the German partners, accomplished nothing and only the Pastor Efomi Lolingo, who was to accompany the youth, was able to travel for ten days to Germany.
We learned on Monday, May 21, 2007, of the death of Mrs. Rebecca Mbunga, widow of Reverend Pierre Bokomboji, pioneer of the urban post of Mbandaka. This illustrious Disciple figure left us at the age of 97 years of pious life spent in obedience to the Lord Jesus Christ. Having been a widow since 1962, Mrs. Rebecca remained a widow for 45 years, refusing to get married, although she could have in an earlier time. Remaining single, she devoted herself to the service of the church even in her old age. She kept her faith in Jesus Christ up to her last breath, living only by and for the Church. Before entering into eternal rest she called her pastor, Reverend Joseph Kabemba, to her bedside and it was while he was praying that she went to rejoin her husband. May her soul rest in peace.
Kindergarten Teaching, a Network to Develop
Human life is a process composed figuratively of five stages: infancy, youth, adulthood, maturity, and old age. The passage from one stage to another is an event for each person, although that doesn’t happen in a systematic manner. Of all these stages the most critical is that of infancy because it is exclusively a state of growth, learning, and socialization. It is subdivided into several stages on which scientists focus their attention to assure the future equilibrium of the adult and the old person. Generally speaking, educators agree to begin formal schooling of children at the age of six years. However, from birth to six years the child passes through several very sensitive stages which, if they are not scrupulously followed, can upset the beginning of school learning, slow it down, or completely block it. It is known today that from birth to three years the infant knows the phenomenon that is called dyad; that is, the confusion of the infant between himself and his mother. She is the first thing with which he identifies. So when the mother leaves him, the infant feels cut off and begins to cry. It is important that the infant have an object of reference at that age. If he does not, he will not know how to develop his own identity. This is, in fact, the distinction that he makes progressively between himself and his mother, which helps him discover himself beginning at the age of three years.
At that age it is time to separate him from his mother and start him confronting the basic school. The child who leaves home directly for primary school is faced with two problems at once: school learning and separation. That’s why educators have conceived the idea of kindergarten, a sort of transition between home and school, at the time the infant reaches the age of personal identification, in order to avoid the brusque separation from his mother and minimize the shock of separation. In a kindergarten, the child finds a teacher who momentarily replaces his mother. Later, at the time of systematic teaching of primary school, he is presented with an attractive teaching content consisting of games and songs which are associated with the distinction of pictures and colors. In fact, the child is going to learn while playing, and he acquires the capacity to fix signs at the same time as manipulate classic objects.
The missionaries of the CDCC established kindergartens alongside primary schools, notably in the main posts and; accord