One hundred years ago Mennonite Brethren missionaries brought the gospel to the African country now known as Democratic Republic of Congo. Henri Ngolo’s grandparents are among the Congolese that heard the good news and established their country’s Mennonite Brethren conference. As a third-generation Mennonite Brethren, Ngolo continues the mission today overseeing five church plants that are ministering to immigrants in Ohio.
How did your work with immigrants and refugees begin?
In 1995 after the genocide in Rwanda, I was a young Mennonite Brethren and was accepted to help set up camps with MCC for the Rwandan refugees. While working there, I planted the first Mennonite Brethren church in Eastern Congo.
What brought you to the United States?
A Canadian pastor working with our Rwandan refugee program said we needed to help our young men grow. They invited me to come to the U.S. and attend Bluffton College.
What is your goal with immigrants?
Most immigrants are not prepared for the difficulties they face. We have to help them find the resources they need to become self-sufficient—a place to live, transportation, school for their children, preparation for interviews and employment. But most important, we provide these supports through Mennonite Brethren churches so they have a faith-based environment to help stabilize and support them.
You also have a ministry to children in Congo.
Everyone in Congo lives with hardship. The east is on fire with war. More than 12 million people have died and over 18 million abandoned children are left to live in the streets. We have 350 acres where we are building Kids Village. We build small homes and find Christian brothers and sisters to live in those homes and become foster parents for orphaned or abandoned children. These children learn to become productive and will be future leaders of the Congo from our Mennonite Brethren.
What can we learn from the immigrants you work with?
American Mennonite Brethren coming alongside our immigrant church planters is a give and take relationship. The immigrants have the obedience and resiliency to serve and plant churches through great hardship. As our U.S. churches help the immigrant churches to settle, they will find the fire that will come from the immigrant churches. Brothers and sisters, we are here to extend the kingdom of our Father together.
Where do you find inspiration in Scripture?
Genesis 12:1-3 has been my Scripture of all time. Abraham had to leave his country by faith. Everybody has a calling and a mission. As I make myself available to him, I really find joy in serving the Lord, planting churches and helping people in need.
Kathy Heinrichs Wiest is a freelance writer who loves the smell of whole wheat bread in the oven, the feel of an orange being plucked from the tree and the view from her front porch in Kingsburg, California. On Sunday mornings you’ll find her in the fourth pew from the front on the left at Kingsburg MB Church, moved by the hymns and praise songs and inspired by the stories of God at work locally and around the world. She and her husband, Steve, own Dovetail Remodeling. They have two grown daughters, one son-in-law and a precious granddaughter.