Learning in partnerships goes both ways

Mission & Ministry: CORD program will connect USMB churches

Claude Tambatamba (left) and Henri Ngolo (right) translate for Don Morris at the Congolese gathering following USMB Gathering 2022. Tambatamba, Morris and Ngolo are members of the Congolese Task Force. Photo: Janae Rempel

It’s been a busy year for the Congolese Task Force, a sub-group of the USMB National Strategy Team (NST). This task force was formed a few years ago when several Congolese pastors and leaders approached USMB district leaders for connection and resourcing. Several of these Congolese churches, mainly in the Central District (CDC) and Eastern District (EDC), have become USMB member churches. There is also a new member church in the Southern District. There is realistic potential for several more churches to join within the next year or two.

Several things have led up to this burgeoning new immigrant ministry. Many Congolese, including many Christians looking for a “family” to belong to, have made their way to the U.S. in just the past five years. Also, our missionary efforts in DR Congo, initiated about 100 years ago, have resulted in a huge national Congo MB Conference, the second largest MB conference in the world.

Many of the Congolese pastors and leaders in MB churches who are now in the U.S. began looking for MB connections here. And finally, Henri Ngolo, a Congolese leader living in the U.S., who has a passion for ministering to these immigrant leaders, has been instrumental in connecting many of them with USMB.

Rick Eshbaugh, previous CDC minister, and Terry Hunt, current EDC minister, have spent much time with Congolese leaders, providing tangible assistance to them and their congregations by delivering food and necessities during the height of COVID-19, helping to locate meeting places for worship and giving advice about navigating life in America. Deep relationships have been established through these interactions.

This ministry is now maturing. The Congolese Task Force is proposing a program called CORD as a collective response to this very special reality that God has brought to our USMB family. It’s intended to initially give significant attention to a few churches, with the hope that the plan can soon be expanded to more churches.

The program’s premise is that USMB will partner together with like-minded immigrant churches and leaders to provide:

• biblical training and educational resources focused around the USMB Confession of Faith,

• assistance with establishing a stable place of worship,

• development of pastors and key leaders capable of shepherding a healthy church, and

• connecting each church to available resources and other like-minded congregations.

USMB national director Don Morris says he feels called by God to be “an unrelenting advocate for developing lasting relationships among our churches—for partnering together to maximize ministry potential.”

Morris would like to see long-term USMB churches cultivate such a relationship with new Congolese member churches.

“It would be a long-lived give/give partnership with both churches giving of themselves to the other over a period of many years,” Morris says. “Our current MB churches would greatly benefit from learning from these Congolese churches about vibrant worship. Immigrant churches can learn more about how to do effective ministry here in America. Perhaps it means sending teams back and forth to resource each other. The rewards for each church in this kind of symbiotic connection could be enormous.”

Morris is convinced that USMB churches have the resources to make such partnerships happen.

“When we get excited about something, like this kind of international bond, the resources needed for such an endeavor will materialize,” he says. “We have the resources here in the U.S. to engage on either a national level with immigrant churches or on an international level in places we may have never heard about before.”

Morris invites individuals and churches to pray about these sorts of relationships. “Pray that God might reveal the church he intends for your church to engage with over time. Relationships: they matter—they matter a lot!”


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