August 1, 2018

More Than 20,000 Baptized in the DRC After Member Involvement Drive

Prince Bahati, East-Central Africa Division, and Adventist Review

The ripple of the world church’s Total Member Involvement (TMI) program has reached the North East Congo Union Mission (NECUM), in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), with unprecedented impetus. More than 20,000 people were baptized after recent evangelistic meetings in the area.

TMI is an initiative of Seventh-day Adventist Church leaders that seeks to involve every member in sharing Jesus with friends and neighbors.

Northeast Congo is one of the largest territories of the East-Central Africa Division (ECD) church region, according to NECUM president Rudatinya Mwangachuchu. Traveling in the area is challenging because of long distances and lack of proper roads, he said. “We travel by air more often than by land to reach our churches.”

A lot of planning took place before the start of the TMI meetings, including the training of local church members, a review of the various sites, and invitations to visiting speakers. NECUM evangelism coordinator Malembe Tatasi shared that meetings took place in 899 sites, and that church members acted to make an impact on their communities. “They shared foods, clothes, and shelter,” he said. “We are grateful to our members for their commitment.”

Tatasi also celebrated the involvement of children. Thanks to the work of the children, he said, “in Rubaya, more than 100 were baptized just on the first Sabbath, as well as [good effort from] the pastors’ kids, who had their site in Mugunga.”

Members of the Adventist church in Butembo, in the North Kivu Field, distributed 2,300 iron sheets to provide roofs for 144 homes. Tatasi added that the Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA) also distributed shoes to many people who cannot afford them.

In the Central Kivu Field, in the city of Goma, medical camps were another effective way of reaching out to the people. Church leaders reported that many residents received free medicines and eyeglasses. NECUM Health Ministries director Kabiona Kashigane Guillaume shared that many people stopped smoking and drinking alcohol. “It was a result of ‘BreatheFree,’ an evidence-based smoking cessation program which accompanies smokers and drug addicts on their journey to better health,” he said.

ECD Health Ministries director Fesaha Tsegaye explained that the BreatheFree program started in 1959 and has been undergoing updates. “Today, it is known as BreatheFree 2.0,” he said, “and it is a joint project between the International Commission for the Prevention of Alcohol and Drug Dependency and the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists, with the support of Loma Linda University School of Public Health.”

Radio station Sauti ya matumaini (Voice of Hope) was another site that was instrumental in promoting the meetings and inviting visitors to attend.

NECUM is made up of six local fields covering seven provinces. The regional church headquarters is in Goma, in North Kivu province.

Local leaders had a special word of gratitude to visiting speakers, explaining that some of them crossed borders to support the mission in the region. “Some of them stepped on the DRC for the first time in their lives and braved the fear of distances and insecurity,” a spokesperson said.