Saturday, Feb 26, 2011 was a special day in the life of the Community of Disciples of Christ in the Democratic Republic of Congo. The Department of Women and Family, along with the Mbandaka District Minister, organized a special service to coincide with the Week of Compassion celebration in the USA and Canada. The service was held in the presence of the Rev. Eliki Bonanga, President of the denomination, and others leaders of the church. The Reverend Mputu Yonganga, Vice President of the Denomination nourished the attendees with a passionate sermon on the theme,” Hearts filled with compassion bring the joy of God to others and to self” based on Matthew 5:7. Women choral groups from the various congregations ministered to those present with their music.
This is the second year that the Department of Women and Family has organized a Service of Compassion. The Reverend Christiane Ikete, head of the department, says “given the importance that this church attaches to sharing with others their suffering, it was absolutely necessary to mobilize our churches. “ She goes on to say, “this year’s service took on a very special meaning for us. The horrific events that occurred in Mbandaka last Easter brought the reality of suffering closer to home. When government troops clashed with opposition troops and interrupted our Easter service, we felt the pain that others were going through elsewhere in the country. This was a major devastating event for us, but it was miniscule compared to what other Congolese go through every day in the east of the country. It helped us to understand what people go through in other parts of the world when they have lost everything due to disasters. We will continue to hold these services on a yearly basis and next year we will expand to other regions throughout the church community. Our pastors and our people in Mbandaka understand how important it is to share suffering and they will help the women to mobilize the others. “
During the service, prayers of intercession were offered for the unity of the church, the confession of sins, global emergencies and catastrophes, partners of the Disciples of Christ community, peace in the country, the upcoming election in the Congo.
When the official count was made, there were 134 individuals, 17 hymn books, 22 Bibles, 13 congregations of which 11 from the city of Mbandaka and 2 from across the Congo River. Even more impressive was the offering of $300 USD collected to be divided between Week of Compassion and One Great Hour of Sharing. “Although it is modest”, said Ikete, “this offering of $300 is being sent to our partners in the USA who are responsible for emergencies and disasters so that it may be distributed to those who are in need and this will be done every year”.