Thursday, October 17, 2013

Congo Mission Network (CMN)

This year’s Congo Mission Network (CMN) gathering was held in San Antonio (TX), from October 3 – 5th.  CMN is an annual meeting which brings together “Congophils,” those passionate and concerned about ‘all things Congo’.  Kristi and I attended CMN in Cincinnati in 2009 before going to Congo, and attended again this year.  In 2009 we met CMN members for the first time.  This year it felt like a special reunion when we arrived and saw so many familiar faces in the lobby of the Hyatt Place hotel.  Since 2009 we have interacted with many CMN folks via email and during their trips to Kananga and Kinshasa.  Truly, it has been a blessing to get to know CMN members who feel so passionate about this land of Congo which we are growing to love.    

The CMN delegates come from across the country, hailing from churches connected to church partners and ministries in Congo.  Some CMN delegates are former missionaries to Congo, and some are the children of former missionaries.  Other delegates are PC(USA) Mission Co-Workers serving in Congo and PC(USA) World Mission staff coming from Louisville.  Other CMN delegates are Congolese persons who have migrated to the US and are active serving their homeland.  
signage, outside Northwood church (CMN)Welcome sign, Northwood Presbyterian Church, San Antonio (TX)

Bob with two CMN delegates
Bob pictured with two Congolese delegates  
now living in the United States  
What is the goal of CMN and the goal of delegates who attend?  To make a difference in Congo and to connect with each other as communities of mission practice, sharing wisdom, knowledge, and best practices for mission involvement.  This year’s gathering was convened by Mike Clement, a member of Myers Park Presbyterian Church in Charlotte (NC).  It was hosted by Charles and Melissa Johnson and their church, Northwood Presbyterian of San Antonio.  Around seventy delegates met for two full days.  The featured speaker was Pastor Mboyamba, the Director of Evangelism of the Congolese Presbyterian Church (CPC) and the Legal Representative of the CPC for the West Kasai Province, Kinshasa and Lubumbashi.  For one hour Pastor Mboyamba gave a power-point presentation, sharing an overview of Congo and the work of the CPC.  Many delegates expressed appreciation for this overview; some were amazed at the breadth of ministry conducted by one of our Congolese partner churches, the CPC. 

Pastor Mboyamba, context (CMN)Pastor Mboyamba gives an overview to CMN participants 

Different delegates spoke regarding projects they have been involved with.  Charles Johnson shared about the process of creating a movement of compassion, responding to the need for mattresses in CPC hospitals.  Jan Sullivan described the “Technology of Participation” (TOPS) - helping our partners assess their strengths and plan strategically.  As she described the success of inaugurating an all girls school in Kananga, Fay Gratsy impressed upon us the need to keep returning to Congo and keep relationships alive.  Sharing about the value of partnership, Jeff Boyd asked the important question, “Can we hurt the dignity of others by primarily focusing on solving their problems?”  Ruth Brown shared from Mark chapter two, how we are like the four friends bringing the paralytic to Jesus as we come alongside our Congolese sisters and brothers.These are a sampling of voices heard this year at CMN.

Ruth Brown (CMN)Fellow PC(USA) Mission Co-Worker Ruth Brown
shares during one of our meals

While CMN represents a wide array of interests and passions, we are learning to listen to each other and help each other become more faithful and effective.  Too often we work in a vacuum, focusing only upon our area of interest to the exclusion of other ministry concerns.  Mike Clement exploded this fallacy, submitting that “Your ‘baby’ [pet project or passion] can be more powerful if you are more familiar with the whole.”  Regarding the ‘whole’, Pastor Mboyamba states that everything we do has the foundation in our faith in the risen Lord, and that evangelism and sharing the love of Christ should bind all aspects of our work together.  

Mboyamba, evangelism (CMN)Pastor Mboyamba speaks passionately about evangelism in Congo
(Kristi translates)
CMN is a great place to learn more about Congo, and to witness passionate people share passionately about their Congo experiences.  For those who pray for and support our ministry in Congo, we invite you to consider being part of the Congo Mission Network in the coming years. 

1 comment:

Robyn Davis Sekula said...

Another great post - thanks for sharing this, and the photos. This will post on the World Mission Facebook page this afternoon.