Training and outreach efforts link believers in North America and Africa
Nzash Lumeya, a Congolese Mennonite Brethren currently living in Fresno, Calif., recently traveled to the city of Lubumbashi, a city of three million located in the southern tip o the Democratic Republic of Congo and bordering Zambia.
While in Lubumbashi, Lumey was interviewed by secular journalists.
“Why have you come?” they asked. “Are you seeking wealth – gold, diamonds and copper?”
The question was a reasonable one since Lubumbashi is known as the “Copper Belt City” and is swarming with Asian, European and American traders in the market for copper, diamonds and cobalt. Lumeya’s answer, however, was not what the journalists expected.
“What I am bringing is greater than the wealth of such commodities,” said Lumeya. “What I am bringing is long-lasting wealth for eternity.”
The journalists burst out laughing. They chuckled to learn that Lumeya had come all the way from California to talk about Jesus. But he did—on TV, on radio, with politicians, in the classroom and in churches.
Lumeya, a missionary, educator, evangelist and church planter, was invited to teach at Faculte de Missiologie de Katanga (Katanga Missiology School) by Didier Mukotshi, the school’s academic dean and Lumeya’s former student. The school is just one year old and has 18 students, most in their 30s. Jean-Pierre Mwamba is president.
Until just recently, the two school administrators were missionaries in neighboring Zambia. A Mennonite Central Committee volunteer based in Lusaka, Zambia, in the 90’s led Mukotshi to the Lord. After his conversion, he decided to return to Kinshasa, DR Congo, and prepare for a life of ministry.
Mukotshi’s life took another turn when a MCC Zambia volunteer contacted Terry and Cathy Sawatzky, MCC representatives in DR Congo, for help. Terry, who is now on the pastoral staff at Elmwood MB Church in Winnipeg, Man., knew about the Missiological University Center in Kinshasa founded by Lumeya. Soon Mukotshi, who had earned a masters degree in missions, arrived in Zambia with his family to grow Christ’s church in that country.
Financial hardship recently forced Mukotshi back across the border into his native DR Congo. “Their intent to follow Jesus in his missionary vision remains strong,” reports Lumeya.
Mukotshi and Mwamba are learning that as missionaries they don’t need to leave their home country. People from abroad, businesspersons and merchants are coming to DR Congo.
Lumeya’s assignment was to help them and other pastors better understand cross-cultural evangelism so that they might train others. Since Lumeya’s visit in December 2008, Mukotshi and Mwamba have started a TV broadcast and thanks to the leadership training they initiated five new church plants are in process. Because the surrounding land is fertile, the mayor, who is a Christian, hopes to broaden the economic base of the region and is appealing for help from God’s people and not the central government.
Mwamba is teaming up with Ali Emmanuel, another graduate of the Missiological University Center currently living in Winnipeg on staff with Family Life Network, a Mennonite Brethren media agency. The two men are working on Christian Arabic programs to air in Katanga that will reach Arabic speakers in Katanga and beyond.
Emmanuel is reaching into Africa with the help of television programs in Arabic and the Internet. He has a blog and communicates with as many as 900-1500 people daily, many of them Muslims. Emmanuel was in Fresno recently for a consultation on cross-cultural mission at the Fresno School of Mission, founded by Lumeya. Once a year, Emmanuel participates in a convention for Christians from a Muslim background held in Anaheim. These training sessions are designed to prepare trainers in ministries among people of other faiths.—from a report by Elmer Martens