New vehicles ease bishops’ travel in Congo

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Key Points: 

  • Bishops of the Congo Central Conference recently received sport utility vehicles, thanks to financial support from the United Methodist Board of Global Ministries.
  • The vehicles will make it easier for the bishops to travel around their regions, many of which have dirt roads that are impassable during the rainy season.
  • Laity and clergy declared the new vehicles a blessing and a sign of God’s love for their community.

The recent purchase of sport utility vehicles is good news for bishops and United Methodists of the Congo Central Conference. The SUVs will facilitate mobility and allow bishops to carry out their pastoral responsibilities more effectively, even in the most difficult conditions.

Financial support from the United Methodist Board of Global Ministries enabled the vehicles to be purchased and transported to their destinations.

The Congo Central Conference includes four United Methodist episcopal areas covering six countries in central Africa:

  • Eastern Congo Episcopal Area — Bishop Gabriel Yemba Unda. This area includes the East and North of the Democratic Republic of Congo and Central African Republic, where a missionary initiative has been developed.
  • North Katanga Tanganyika-Tanzania Episcopal Area — Bishop Mande Muyombo.
  • Southern Congo Episcopal Area — Bishop Owan Kasap. This area extends into Zambia.
  • Central Congo Episcopal Area — Bishop Daniel Lunge. This area extends to Congo-Brazzaville and the Republic of Gabon.

“The availability of all-terrain vehicles will enable our bishops to respond more effectively to the spiritual needs of our communities, particularly during periods when road conditions are most difficult,” said Pierre Omadjela, Congo Central Conference communicator.

Each bishop in the Congo Central Conference, which includes four United Methodist episcopal areas covering six countries in central Africa, received an SUV with financial support from the United Methodist Board of Global Ministries. Here, one of the Land Cruisers sits in front of Victor Wetchi United Methodist Church in the Kibombo District in Congo. Photo by Chadrack Londe, UM News. 

Each bishop in the Congo Central Conference, which includes four United Methodist episcopal areas covering six countries in central Africa, received an SUV with financial support from the United Methodist Board of Global Ministries. Here, one of the Land Cruisers sits in front of Victor Wetchi United Methodist Church in the Kibombo District in Congo. Photo by Chadrack Londe, UM News.

Philippe Okonda, lay leader of the Eastern Congo Annual Conference, also spoke to the challenge posed by poor roads.

“Degraded and impassable roads can be a significant obstacle to mobility, and this can limit the access of our bishops to the various communities and parishes they are called to serve,” he said.

Unda expressed joy and satisfaction at receiving a vehicle. His first Toyota Prado vehicle was purchased by Global Ministries in 2012. The bishop recently received a 4×4 vehicle, a gift from the president of the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

The new vehicle, Unda said, “will do the church’s work. I started by riding it over 300 kilometers (186 miles) from Kindu to Kibombo for the Eastern Congo Annual Conference meeting. Today, we’ve got to keep breaking itin.”

In the North Katanga Tanganyika-Tanzania Episcopal Area, the purchase was well received.

The Rev. Betty Musau Kazadi, communications director, called the brand-new Land Cruiser, purchased locally in Lubumbashi, “a major asset” for episcopal transport.

“In addition,” she said, “as the episcopal leader belongs to the rural ministry, the vehicle was useful during the annual conference of North Katanga held in Kabondo.”

The Rev. Irung Emmanuel, special coordinator of projects for the North Katanga Area, said that on a bumpy, dusty road, the new car adapts very well to the rural conditions.

“This asset is a means of transport that helps the episcopal mission and enables the ministry to grow for the kingdom of God,” he said.

In the Eastern Congo Conference, reactions from lay faithful and pastors were positive.

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“It’s a great joy for us, parishioners of the Kibombo churches, to see our bishop receive an all-terrain vehicle,” said layman Norbert Kunga. “The roads in our region are very bad, especially during the rainy season. This vehicle will enable our bishop to get to the villages more easily, which will facilitate his mission.”

The Rev. Kalema Tambwe, Kindu Sud District superintendent, called the vehicle “a blessing (that) will enable our bishop to continue serving his people, even under the most difficult conditions.”

Pastor Célestin Lohalo Malamba, Bethlehem Francophone Local Church, called the vehicles “a sign of God’s love for our community,” adding, “We thank God for this grace.”

Okonda was thrilled to see his bishop receive a vehicle to facilitate his mobility.

“It’s a real relief,” he said. “Our bishop is a very active man, who travels a lot in his region. It’s not always easy for him to get to places of worship. I’m relieved to know that he will be able to travel more easily and safely to fulfill his pastoral responsibilities.”

Frido N. Kinkolenge, Africa Area Liaison for United Methodist Global Ministries, said the vehicles will help support mission work and build relationships.

“While there are many ways to foster relationships, face-to-face interactions are a critical means, especially in the DRC, where electronic and other remote means of communication and connection are limited. Purchasing vehicles will allow the leaders of the episcopal area to practice a ministry of presence in mission, especially with the poor, those in rural areas, and people who are otherwise marginalized in society,” he said.

“The presence of church leadership with those on the margins shows that God and the church value these children of God.”

Londe is a communicator and publisher in Congo. The Rev. Betty Kazadi Musau, director of communications for the episcopal region of North Katanga, contributed to this article.

Contact: Julie Dwyer, UM News editor, [email protected] or 615-742-5469. To read more news from The United Methodist Church, subscribe to our free daily or weekly bulletins.



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