With a sanctuary built for 60 people and an average weekly attendance of 90, Christian Center the Hand of God in Hamilton, Ohio, is bursting at the seams.
Pastor Hermann Mputu says this USMB congregation, comprised primarily of French-speaking immigrants from the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), has standing room only. The congregation’s 60 children—from babies to teenagers—squeeze into one small room for Sunday school.
“We try to do what we can, but the first need is to expand our church building,” Mputu says.
As the first congregation in USMB’s CORD program, CCHG will receive funding to expand its space to accommodate growth and to equip Mputu. CORD is a ministry of the Integrated Immigrant Council that partners with immigrant churches to create self-sustaining churches and leaders equipped to teach and assist new and developing congregations.
While Mputu has a legal background, he has served nearly 17 years in ministry. He and his wife, Mamie, started CCHG with a prayer group in their living room in 2014. As the gathering grew, the group moved to other spaces, and the church officially organized in 2015. Three years in, the congregation collected money to purchase its current building.
Sunday services are in French and translated to English, while children are taught in English. Church ministries include a Wednesday night Bible study, Friday prayer meeting and Saturday leadership training.
Church membership nearly doubles the weekly attendance, but conflicting work schedules mean not everyone comes on a given Sunday. On special occasions, there is not room for everyone.
Mputu is bivocational, working up to 50 hours a week at a factory to support his ministry and family of six.
“It’s a growing church, but right now, the church doesn’t pay me,” Mputu says. “I’m working somewhere else, but it’s my calling to be a pastor.”
Operating on five or six hours of sleep, Mputu wakes at 4 a.m. and returns home by 4 p.m. to pick up his children from school, make sure their homework is done and eat supper. He spends most evenings at church in personal prayer for the congregation, Bible study or corporate prayer.
Mputu is also at church most weekends, including Saturday for leadership training and choir practice and Sunday for the three-hour morning service. Sunday evening, he attends a two-hour The Urban Ministry Institute (TUMI) class. TUMI is a ministry of World Impact that provides Christian leadership education.
CORD funds will ease Mputu’s workload and fund his continued training.
“We are very excited (about) what God is doing here in Cincinnati, but one thing is time,” Mputu says. “We can do more than what we’re doing now, but I don’t have enough time to focus on the ministry because I have a family to take care of.”
Through CORD, USMB will partner with up to three Congolese churches, providing $55,500 over three years. To qualify, a church must have joined a USMB district and credentialed its pastor. CORD is funded primarily by congregations and individual partners. MB Foundation is committed to matching the next $27,750 donated for the CORD program.
Janae Rempel Shafer is the Christian Leader associate editor. She joined the CL staff in September 2017 with six years of experience as a professional journalist. Shafer is an award-winning writer, having received three 2016 Kansas Press Association Awards of Excellence and an Evangelical Press Association Higher Goals award in 2022. Shafer graduated from Tabor College in 2010 with a bachelor of arts in Communications/Journalism and Biblical/Religious Studies. She and her husband, Austin, attend Ridgepoint Church in Wichita, Kansas.