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A letter from Ruth Brown in Congo

April 25, 2011

Muoyo wenu (Life) to all on my 11th day in the D.R. Congo!

Photo of children sitting on molded plastic chairs.

28 children were served lunch on the day we visited the Lemba Presbyterian Church. The meal was a porridge made from corn, soybeans and the precious protein of moringa leaf powder.

During the time I was staying at the Methodist-Presbyterian Hostel (an inn for international, interdenominational missionaries, private and public development workers, and parents in the child adoption process), waiting for a “visa in lieu of passport” for travel to Kananga during the two months needed to process a permanent visa, I was able to visit programs of the Kinshasa Presbyterian Church during Holy Week. My first visit to learn about the Presbyterian Women’s program of the Presbyterian Community (Church) of Kinshasa was on Good Friday, and I found the church we visited to be a powerful example of God’s decree to “be kind to widows and orphans.”

Photo of eight women standing in front of a wall poster with Presbytery of Eastern Virginia on it.

Second from left: Mama Annie Tumba, director of Presbyterian Women for the Presbyterian Commuity of Kinanga; Fourth from left: Mama Eulalie Kintenga, who coordinates the PCK’s micro-finance program, followed by Ruth Brown, mission co-worker for community development for sustainable agriculture in the Presbyterian Community of Kasai. To Ruth’s left are Mama Yohali, chair of Presbyterian Women of Lemba Presbyterian Church, Inge Sthreshley, mission co-worker based in Kinshasa, and Cindy Dunn, volunteer administrator of the Methodist-Presbyterian Hostel in Kinshasa.

 

The members of the Presbyterian Women of Lemba Presbyterian Church of Centre Synod, who themselves are struggling to feed their families in the sweltering inner city, where soil is poor and scarce and where public water and electricity is scarce, have supported an orphanage near the church for 21 years. Every September these Presbyterian women provide all the children entering school with all their school supplies and funds for books. Every Wednesday, throughout the school year, these church women bring grain from their homes to provide lunch for the children in the orphanage who are not attending school.

The women of Lemba Presbyterian Church also provide outreach, assistance with food and garden plants and prayer support to 60 widows in their neighborhood!

To support the orphanage, the children’s feeding program, and to support the widows, the church women run a Moringa tree program, encouraging families (women) to plant these trees. Lemba Presbyterian women sell small jars of Moringa leaf power for $5 and $10 each. Also, the women make and sell handcrafts (hats and purses crocheted out of strips from plastic bags).

Photo of a man talking with two women; children are in the background.

CPK’s agriculture worker, Papa Mbuyi Joseph (pictured here with Inge Sthreshley, PC(USA) mission co-worker based in Kinshasa) encourages villagers in more than 10 quartiers in Kinshasa to grow gardens and, in particular, Moringa trees (tree just behind Papa Mbuyi with the small leaves). One serving (1/2 cup cooked leaves) has 2 times the protein as a cup of milk!

Imagine my surprise during this first visit to a local church in Kinshasa to find the name of the Presbytery of Eastern Virginia (PEVA, the presbytery in which I’ve been a member from 1985 until 2011!) painted on the walls of the Lemba Presbyterian Church compound! PEVA had funded the construction of bathrooms used by church members, orphans and community members visiting the clinic.

How inspiring are these women of Lemba Presbyterian Church in Kinshasa, who are working daily to live out God’s commandment to be kind to widows and orphans!

“Be kind to strangers, widows, and fatherless children.” (Genesis 22:21-22)

“Defend the poor and fatherless: do justice to the afflicted and needy.” (Psalm 82:3-4)

“Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress …” (James 1:27)

Ruth

The 2011 Mission Yearbook for Prayer & Study, p. 61

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