Saturday, June 16, 2012

MPH, the Methodist Presbyterian Hostel



It is a well-known hub to many travellers in and through Kinshasa, the Democratic Republic of Congo, and francophone Africa. It sits in the Ngaliema Commune of Kinshasa, perhaps encompassing 4-5 acres of quiet and peace, an oasis in a turbulent sea of urban freneticism which would make the average New Yorker’s head spin.

MPH feels like a veritable crossroads of the world.  Here you can find missionaries in-transit seeking respite, short-termers visiting from afar, African church leaders coming together, American families adopting Congolese children, and the children of former missionaries coming back to visit places dear to their heart.  Over breakfast, lunch or dinner, you are bound to spend more time than planned in spontaneous, stimulating conversation. You are bound to learn something from someone.  MPH is wonderfully managed and cared for by an American couple, Cindy and Clay Dunn.

lovely, outdoor grounds

Kristi and I recently made a trip to Nairobi, Kenya.  Travelling through Kinshasa we stayed at MPH as we have in the past.  We enjoyed the peaceful grounds, caught up on some emails, and enjoyed meeting and visiting with various people.  We saw Paul Law and met his wife Marti.  They serve with the Methodist Church of Congo and live in Lodja, a port city in the upper reaches of East Kasai.  Paul’s father was a pilot who was tragically killed during the Simba Revolution of the 1960’s.  Paul has lived in Congo for most of his life and fluently speaks French, Tshiluba and Tshitatela.  Paul likes to tease your mind with some question which only he seems to have the answer to.  Taylor Burton-Edwards, the Liturgical Officer for the United Methodist Church (UMC), has come to meet with Congolese church leaders.  Over breakfast one morning he and I have a prolonged conversation which includes:  the history of Methodism in the United States and Britain, how creeds and confessions inform worship and liturgy, the helpful writing ministry of Methodist bishop Will Willimon, and what it means to be a “global church.” 

Over dinner the following evening we have dinner with Jim Byh.  Jim and his family served as Assemblies of God missionaries in West Africa and Eritrea for 18 years.  Now they live in Lincoln, Nebraska, and Jim serves as the francophone Africa representative for One Hope, a ministry which seeks to bring the good news of the Gospel of Jesus Christ to children.  Jim introduces us to some of their teaching materials which might be useful for our ministry in central Congo.  Lastly there is Tim and Kathy Rice.  They are active members of a PCA church in St. Louis which has a profound ministry to inner-city children and single Moms.  Their pastor is Congolese, and Tim and Kathy are considering long-term mission service in Congo.

Kristi and I board our plane Friday morning feeling refreshed and reinvigorated.  We are thankful for MPH.  While our goal is to live as close to the Congolese people as possible, MPH is a nice break and a good place to meet fellow “sojourners” on similar journeys. 

For your perusal, below are a few more pictures of MPH:

Dining Hall area, from second level

Spacious grounds for walking, prayer and meditation




Bob with MPH staff member Mulumba Louie Quatorze, who is from Kananga
(where we live) and wants to learn English


Debbie Ducommun said...

In 1972 my family was in the Peace Corp in Zaire, and MPH was at that time a boarding hostel for children attending The American School of Kinshasa, which was across the street. I lived there part of 1972 and 1973.
Debbie Mertens Ducommun

stephanie said...

How far is this location from a grocery store?

Kristi said...

I would estimate that MPH is about 1 or 1.5 km from a grocery store (down a steep hill, which makes for a good hike up). Their website, which has contact info and more details, is