(Indianapolis, Ind. – DNS – July 29, 2009) – Indiana Disciples continued to nurture a growing relationship with their brethren in Africa by hosting Disciples leaders from the Democratic Republic of the Congo over the past month. Since arriving in Indianapolis on July 2, Ilumbe Ndjongo and his wife, Mama Rosette, have been the special guests of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in Indiana.
More than 100 Hoosier Disciples greeted the couple at Indianapolis airport when they arrived. Ilumbe Ndjongo is principal supervising pastor of the Mbandaka District of the 10th Community – Disciples of Christ in the Congo. He expressed thankfulness and great joy at reaching Indianapolis, a community he has known all his life as the home of the missionaries who went to his country more than 100 years ago.
“I thank my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ for the opportunity to be here,” said Ilumbe Ndjongo at a luncheon on July 14 sponsored by Global Ministries. “It has been a dream of ours for a long time to go to Indiana. We’ve heard a lot from our fathers and grandfathers about the Christian Church in the United States of America.”
The Mbandaka District and the Christian Church in Indiana entered into a mission partnership when a group from the Indiana Region traveled there in May 2008. Mama Rosette is head of that association in the Congo. DRC is one-fourth the size of the U.S. and is located in the middle of the African continent. It has 10 provinces and 66 million people making it the fourth largest country in Africa. It is also blessed with precious minerals, including diamonds and coltan, a rare substance used in cell phones and other electronics.
“Many of your fathers and grandfathers went to the Congo and died there,” Illumbe Ndjongo, who speaks French, told the. “They gave the sacrifice of their lives for us and to further the gospel of Jesus Christ. Thank you.”
Indiana Disciples shared stories about flooding that had occurred in Indiana with the Congolese Disciples when they went there. This past spring, a tornado ravaged the Mbandaka District damaging some houses, schools and churches. “One of our responsibilities was to pray for the damage to the houses, schools and churches in Indiana,” said Ndjongo. “Likewise, when we were hit by tornadoes, our brothers and sisters in Indiana did not miss out on an opportunity to pray for us.”
Of the about 10,000 Disciples in the Mbandaka District, more than half are young people. “The young pastors are gradually taking over for the older ones. These younger pastors have a lot of enthusiasm,” Ndjongo said.
Illumbe Ndjongo and his wife have visited many Indiana churches this month, preaching and sharing stories of their ministry. The couple is also visiting this week’s General Assembly in Indianapolis, along with their hosts, Rick and Diane Spleth. Rick is the regional minister of Indiana. His wife Diane is pastor of Frankin Central Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in Indianapolis.
Hoosier Disciples also welcomed Eliki Bonanga, general secretary and legal representative of the Disciples Community in the Congo, and his wife, Mama Anna, to Indianapolis and the General Assembly on July 26. In his country, Eliki Bonanga serves in a role very similar to that of General Minister and President Sharon Watkins.
By: James Patterson