“This is how heaven will look,” Henri Ngolo said as he looked over the 70-some people gathered Saturday afternoon, July 30, for the Congolese Gathering, the final event of USMB Gathering 2022.
Ngolo may have been referring to the colorful clothing worn by many attendees, including choir members in red shirts and blouses. He may have been thinking of the mix of ethnicities and countries represented in the meeting room or the multiple languages spoken by presenters and translators.
Ngolo and Claude Tambatamba challenged those present to see themselves as missionaries.
Ngolo, of Royal Family International Church, Fairfield, Ohio, said that 100 years ago a man came to DR Congo as a missionary and “now, 100 years later, the African missionaries are here. Every 100 years God will do something new,” Ngolo said.
“That’s why we are here and united to do God’s will and to fulfill God’s way,” he said. “Are we ready? I’m talking to us, African missionaries. Are we ready? To be God’s missionaries? Give God the applause!”
Earlier in the afternoon Tambatamba, of New Jerusalem Temple, Sioux Falls, South Dakota, issued the same challenge.
“My brothers and sisters, we are not here as refugees; we are here to fulfill God’s mission” said Tambatamba, switching effortlessly between English and Swahili. “I am ready, God. Use me as you want!”
His listeners responded with applause and shouts.
“Hello?” he continued. “It doesn’t matter where you come from. You are children of God! You are set free!”
A rotation of translators speaking in English, French and Swahili allowed everyone to understand the various speakers. Recognized special guests were Gerald Hildebrand, North American regional representative for Mennonite World Conference, and Michelle Armster, with Mennonite Central Committee, who shared a song.
Each Congolese church represented was introduced: Christ Salvation Church, Kansas City; Mlima Wa Sinai Church, Kansas City; Royal Family International Church, Fairfield, Ohio; New Jerusalem Temple, Sioux Falls, South Dakota; Naioth Church, Columbus, Ohio; Disciples International Christian Church, Portland, Maine; Christian Center the Hand of God, Hamilton, Ohio; Restoration Church of Christ, Cincinnati, Ohio; and His Grace Christian Life Church, Nashville, Tenn.
Participants also heard from members of the Congolese Task Force: Don Morris, USMB national director; district ministers Rick Eshbaugh and Terry Hunt; Doug Hiebert, Multiply; Garry Prieb; and Ngolo and Tambatamba.
Equipping Congolese congregations to become health churches that reach others with God’s message of salvation is the goal of the new CORD program, introduced by Eshbaugh and described by Hunt.
“Since 2018, my heart has been broken for how we can best help you do the ministry God has for you,” Eshbaugh said. “We want to do ministry by multiplication. One person can’t minister to all, so if we have multiple churches and multiple leaders working together, the ministry will continue to grow at a better and fast rate.”
Hunt said, “There is a great tidal wave that is growing of people coming into America who need Jesus Christ as their Lord and personal Savior and many coming that are willing to introduce others to Christ. We’ve been given an opportunity to embrace people who have come to America to evangelize Americans.”
Hunt outlined the CORD program that includes biblical educational training through The Urban Ministry Institute (TUMI) and funds to assist with the cost of renting or owning a building. Applause broke out when Hunt said that churches that are part of CORD will also receive a stipend for their pastor so that pastors do not have to work extra jobs.
Music was a highlight of the afternoon. A choir from Malima Wa Sinai Church in Kansas City, Kan., and a trio from Ohio that included dancing were highlights of the gathering.
Connie Faber joined the magazine staff in 1994 and assumed the duties of editor in 2004. She has won awards from the Evangelical Press Association for her writing and editing. Faber is the co-author of Family Matters: Discovering the Mennonite Brethren. She and her husband, David, have two daughters, one son, one daughter-in-law, one son-in-law and two grandchildren. They are members of Ebenfeld MB Church in Hillsboro, Kansas.