Powering Up Ministry in the Democratic Republic of the Congo

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Powering Up Ministry in the Democratic Republic of the Congo

VALLEY FORGE, PA (ABNS 3/18/13)—When the Rev. Jim Steiner from the Summit Church in Boise, Idaho, met with International Ministries (IM) missionaries Mike and Jill Lowery about supporting them in their work, Steiner asked them, “What do you need to move ministry forward where you are?” In response, they told him about their need for electric power in Kikongo.

A 24-hour electric power supply is not always the first thing that comes to mind when considering tools necessary for ministry, but for Mike Lowery, who serves at the Kikongo Pastors Institute, and IM missionaries Glen and Rita Chapman, who serve at the Evangelical Hospital of Kikongo, the lack of power means they live in complete isolation when they are in Kikongo. They were once connected to the world via Ham radio, but that technology is now defunct in the wake of the Internet and satellite connections.

The end of the Ham radio connection cut them off from the world outside of Kikongo. It resulted in an isolating and dangerous situation.

Even accessing basic pastoral or medical research is difficult. Students, doctors, and nurses have to travel 100 miles via foot, bicycle, or dugout canoe to get to the closest town with an Internet connection.

The 24-hour power supply would allow them to connect satellite equipment already purchased through a One Great Hour of Sharing grant and give them an Internet connection and a link with the world outside of Kikongo. Through this connection they could conduct Skype calls, send and receive email, and access important research.

Steiner brought Lowery’s request to his church and the Northwest region, and the $15,000 needed to complete this project was raised through Summit Church’s Advent Conspiracy offering, gifts from the Northwest region, and an additional grant from the church’s board to close the gap in funding.

Later this year a team with individuals from Summit and the Northwest region will travel to Kikongo to complete the installation.

Summit Church has long been in the business of helping missionaries and ministries in this way. In the past they have sent a team to rebuild a Mission Aviation Fellowship (MAF) airbase that was burned out by rebels in DR Congo; they have raised money to purchase farmland in Rwanda; and they have a history of recruiting professionals such as medical doctors, teachers, IT specialists, and others to meet the ministry needs of their partners. Steiner says that they ask those they want to partner with “what they need to see happen and how can we resource that need with dollars or people.”

From there, the church and its members work creatively to meet those needs. Steiner recalls one woman who started having bake sales well ahead of the offering for Kikongo to help raise the needed funds.

“One of our habits for discipleship, is ‘learning to give ourselves away,’” explains Steiner. “I told them [the Lowerys] that we are always looking for projects that allow us to add what we have to what they have to make a greater whole,” he says.

 American Baptist International Ministries was organized in 1814 as the first Baptist international mission agency in America. It began its pioneer mission work in Burma and today works in Asia, Africa, Europe, the Middle East and the Americas serving more than 1,800 long-term and short-term missionaries. Its central mission is to help people come to faith in Jesus, grow in their relationship with God, and change their worlds through the power of the Spirit. It works with respected partners in over 70 countries in ministries that meet human need.

American Baptist Churches USA is one of the most diverse Christian denominations today, with over 5,200 local congregations comprised of 1.3 million members, across the United States and Puerto Rico, all engaged in God’s mission around the world.