Mennonite Brethren congregations in Missouri in Kansas are among those in several states that are helping Christians fleeing persecution in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
“These leaders self-identify as ambassadors of Christ, missionaries to the West, rather than refugees,” Randy Friesen, president of Multiply, told Mennonite World Review.. “Their spiritual boldness and faith in the gospel to transform lives are also gifts they are bringing with them to the established Western church.”
The current generation of Congolese immigrants has endured political, economic and social suffering. The Great African War of the past 20 years, which involved nine countries and 25 armed groups, has cost more lives than any war since World War II. For about 15 years, Christians from the Democratic Republic of Congo, including those with roots in the Mennonite Brethren church, have been immigrating to the United States, forming congregations and reaching out to their neighbors and fellow immigrants.
The U.S. Mennonite Brethren National Strategy Team recently brought together leaders of 20 of these immigrant churches and 13 church leaders to talk about possibilities for connection and membership.
Don Morris, the Mennonite Brethren’s’ national director, said the summit was a time to “hear the passions and yearnings of the Congolese for connection and belonging as well as their stories of current mission, church multiplication and strong desire to bring Christ to those who are lost.”
Many of the Congolese who spoke at the summit shared stories of their grandparents receiving the gospel from and being discipled by this first generation of mission workers.
“The hope of the summit was that we would sit face-to-face and learn about each other,” said Rick Eshbaugh, conference minister of the denomination’s Central District Conference Eshbaugh said. “We were able to build relationships and open our minds to the realities God has presented to us. This is the continuation of a story still being lived out.”
In November the National Strategy Team will discuss how to partner with these congregations and their leaders.
For the third year in a row, 2019 is set to see the most refugees admitted to the United States having come from that nation under a new refugee asylum program put in place by the Trump administration.