In what is becoming a monumental ministry for the USMB family, Integrated Immigrant Ministries continues to grow. A total of at least 12 Congolese congregations from Indiana, Iowa, Ohio, Missouri, South Dakota and Tennessee have become USMB member churches or are well on the path to becoming members. Other Congolese churches are also tracking with USMB and have shown membership interest.
Part of the attraction from both the USMB and Congolese perspectives is that the USMB Confession of Faith and Anabaptist/evangelical roots and the Congolese churches’ beliefs and theological background are harmonious. Many of the Congolese immigrants encountered intense conflict, war and bloodshed in their native country of DR Congo. They have purposefully fled that turmoil, looking for peace and a place to belong.
The Central District MB Conference (CDC) and Eastern District MB Conference (EDC) and their respective district ministers Rick Eshbaugh and Terry Hunt initially directed this ministry to Congolese churches. (Eshbaugh is no longer serving the CDC.) This immigrant connection now includes a national USMB element with the formation of the Integrated Immigrant Council (IIC).
The IIC, chaired by Hunt, consists of representatives from those two districts, USMB and Multiply. The IIC is a sub-council of the larger USMB National Strategy Team (NST) and reflects the NST’s strategy to incorporate and serve the many immigrant churches that have come to our USMB family for relationship.
To help resource this burgeoning ministry, USMB has hired Henri Ngolo as part-time integrated immigrant coordinator, beginning in November 2022. In this role, Ngolo will connect with USMB Congolese pastors and leaders and those interested in pursuing USMB affiliation and collaborate with districts and district ministers for integration opportunities. Ngolo and his wife, Bienvenue, have three children and attend Christian Center the Hand of God in Hamilton, Ohio. Ngolo is also a part of the Integrated Immigrant Council.
Ngolo is excited about this new position, although he has previously been serving in this way for the past several years in a voluntary capacity. Ngolo says, “God is doing something new. It is why today he is opening doors for immigrant churches to enter into our Mennonite Brethren family. God is asking us to embrace them, work alongside them, encourage them, mentor them, educate them and settle them so they can assimilate into the culture and do his mission work” (Missio Dei—Acts 1:8).
In addition to hiring Ngolo, the IIC has created the CORD program, based on Ecclesiastes 4:12. CORD provides for partnering with immigrant churches to create a movement of self-sustaining churches and leaders—providing resources for church facilities, pastor training and pastor stipends to help alleviate a portion of the pastor’s multi-vocational workload.
“The Integrated Immigrant Council is excited about the opportunity to come alongside existing and emerging immigrant churches that aspire to join our MB family,” Hunt writes. “Therefore, we have developed a program that will allow MB churches to partner with like-minded immigrant churches and leaders to connect through building relationships.”
The IIC is pleased to announce that the first recipient of the CORD program is Hermann Mputu, pastor of Christian Center the Hand of God in Hamilton, Ohio. The church is growing to the point that they are out of room in the sanctuary and need to remodel to provide for more growth.