John and Gwenda Fletcher ended mission service in June, 2018.
About John and Gwenda Fletcher’s ministry
In January 2009 John and Gwenda Fletcher were appointed to serve with the Presbyterian Community of Congo (CPC) in the Kasai region of the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
John works with the Christian Medical Institute of the Kasai (IMCK), helping the staff build and maintain a unified network of all the CPC’s mission hospitals. Although John’s primary surgical responsibilities are at the Good Shepherd Hospital, his broader charge is to work with the CPC medical director in support of the CPC medical program. He teaches medical residents, medical students and nursing students at the IMCK and other mission hospitals.
The CPC came out of the efforts of the “American Presbyterian Congo Mission,” which existed from 1891 to 1970 and has been a fully autonomous church since 1961. The CPC serves a large part of the population in West and East Kasai through its ministries of evangelism, health, education and development.
Gwenda fills a position that World Mission has long been recruiting for: education consultant. She works with the CPC, helping the church with teacher training, administration and community involvement.
Download: a bulletin insert that lift up the work of John and Gwenda Fletcher in the Congo
The Democratic Republic of Congo, a country roughly one quarter the size of the United States, has been ravaged by conflict. The havoc wreaked by the rebellion that ousted the dictator Mobutu Sese Seko in 1997 and the following war to topple President Joseph Kabila have been aggravated by internal and regional inter-ethnic sentiments. After two civil wars the country is left with a devastated infrastructure and economy. People throughout the country struggle daily for survival. Despite these circumstances, the church in the DRC continues to faithfully bear witness to Christ’s good news through their multifold ministries.
About John and Gwenda Fletcher
The Fletchers’ current appointment is by no means their first acquaintance with the Congo. They were first appointed mission personnel by the PC(USA) in 1989, and they served in the Congo until January 2001. Both John and Gwenda grew up as children of Presbyterian mission workers in India.
Gwenda recalls that when she first moved to the Congo in 1989, “we were startled to find that the general perception of missionaries was that they had come to the Congo to live in big houses, have a car, make a lot of money and live an easy life. I viewed the situation from the exact opposite perspective and considered that we had left behind a great deal in order to live in a small house at a modest salary under extremely difficult conditions. I was affronted that our motives were misunderstood and hurt that we were seen as greedy opportunists. I spent a fair amount of time ruminating about how to disabuse people of their misconceptions. It soon became clear that there was no way to accomplish this, and I finally did what I should have done in the first place—sought God’s guidance. The words ‘Grant that I may not so much seek to be understood as to understand’ from Francis of Assisi’s prayer became like a mantra to me. I began to internalize what I had previously only known at an intellectual level—that while our home was small, our salary modest and the living conditions difficult compared with what we’d had in the States, the gap between our ‘U.S. life’ and our ‘Congo life’ was far smaller than the gap between our ‘Congo life’ and our Congolese neighbors’ lives. This realization led to a new sensitivity about how my material life impacts and informs my witness and was a vivid reminder to me that in all relationships but especially in cross-cultural ones, assuming that others see things the way I do is certain to lead to misunderstandings.”
Gwenda holds a B.S. in education from Lewis and Clark College in Portland, Oregon, and an M.S. in special education from Portland State University. John holds a B.S. in cell and molecular biology and an M.D. from the University of Washington in Seattle, Washington.
Both John and Gwenda are ordained to the office of elder and are active members of the First Presbyterian Church, Yuma, Arizona. Until leaving for mission service in 2009, Gwenda served as clerk of session.
The Fletchers are the parents of two adult children, John and Rachel, and the grandparents of six, John, Emily, Robbie, Savannah, Summer and Samuel.
Gwenda – May 1
John – December 14