[This blog post continues my reflections on the August fraternal visit to our Global Mission Partner, this time focusing on the Community of Disciples of Christ in Congo (CDCC), in The Democratic Republic of Congo.]
The Community of Disciples of Christ in the Congo has a long and rich history, which began in 1899 under the auspices of the Foreign Christian Missionary Society at Bolenge. Ellsworth Faris along with Royal and Eva Dye who were inspired by the death of Faris’ early partner Henry Biddle, established the missionary work, It is important to note that early on, Congolese played a significant role in spreading the Gospel and providing leadership to the emerging church. “…there (were) three African Christians at Bolenge: Ikoko, his wife Blokama, (and) Josefa, a crippled fisherman of the Lokele tribe…”
True to the Disciples commitment to Christian unity, the Community of Disciples of Christ in Congo is the Tenth Community of the Church of Christ in Congo (CCC), a union of 66 Protestant denominations in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. In the midst of political turmoil and war, the CCC provides leadership in national reconciliation and peace. The core values are reconciliation, justice, peace, struggle against corruption, and respect for human life. It encourages the mentality of power as a service to others and not a privilege reserved for self-interest.
The Community of Disciples of Christ is highly respected by the government for the tremendous work accomplished in education and medical care. There were representatives from the Governor’s office as well as other governmental officials present at the dedication of the new Maternity Wing at the hospital in Bolenge this past August. The U.S. Disciples delegation of which I was a part had the privilege of being invited to a meeting with the Governor of the Equator Province, Jean-Claude Baende.
Rev. Bonanga, President of the Community of Disciples of Christ in the Congo, Rev. Sandra Gourdet, Area Executive for Africa, Division of Overseas Ministries / Common Global Ministries, gave expressions of gratitude. The Governor thanked the Church for the assistance that enabled the work to be completed for the new Maternity Wing at the Bolenge Hospital. After the meeting, Rev. Bonanga and Rev. Gourdet were interviewed by a reporter from the local television station as we stood in the background. Later we got the exciting news that the Governor had invited us to the Governor’s Mansion for dinner.
That evening, we all dressed in our Community of Disciples of Christ in Congo shirts for dinner with the Governor. When we arrived at the mansion, we were warmly received by the staff and provided with refreshing libation as we awaited the Governor’s arrival. While we were waiting, the newscast came on the television, and lo and behold, the interview with Rev. Bonanga and Rev. Gourdet and their entourage (us) was presented. We all have the distinction of having appeared on television in Mbandaka.
Eugene W. James, Jr
September 26, 2012