Life and Ministry Update

A letter from Bob and Kristi Rice in the U.S., on Interpretation Assignment from the Democratic Republic of the Congo

April 2016

Write to Bob Rice
Write to Kristi Rice

Individuals:  Give online to E200429 for Bob and Kristi Rice’s sending and support

Congregations: Give to D507528 for Bob and Kristi Rice’s sending and support

Churches are asked to send donations through your congregation’s normal receiving site (this is usually your presbytery).

Warm greetings from Bloomington, Illinois! It has been a blessing to be back in the States and to enjoy time with family and friends, and to even witness and experience the changing of the seasons (Bob was taught how to use a snow blower!). This year we are in the United States for Interpretation Assignment and several months of personal leave. During this time we hope to have a short respite but also make meaningful connections with supporting churches and individuals, helping to interpret the work of the church in Congo so that American Christians feel connected to our sisters and brothers in that part of the world.

While in the United States we will continue to communicate periodically with colleagues in Congo about updates of

A member of the savings group sells dried fish in the market (Kananga)

A member of the savings group sells dried fish in the market (Kananga)

ministry projects. This time away gives our colleagues a chance to step up and make these ministries move forward without us. Our goal is to empower our Congolese colleagues rather than to initiate or lead ministries ourselves—this time away is a good opportunity on all sides to assess priorities and review how we can empower them as they seek to build God’s Kingdom in Congo.

We recently reflected on some highlights from the last year. We want to share with you a few of the ways that we have seen God at work through the church in Congo. We hope this will encourage you as you partner with us.

Savings Groups—In late May 2015 Kristi and colleague Mamu Victorine Manga attended a training event for “Rural Savings and Loans Groups” conducted in Togo—see link for details of this training in Togo. The vision is to empower women to form savings groups, including members from the church and also the community, so that they would have a vehicle for saving money and getting loans in a supportive social group. This year Mamu Victorine and Kristi and a couple of other colleagues have been able to start three savings groups in the presbytery of Kankala on the outskirts of the city centre of Kananga. They were also able to visit savings groups in Kabeya Kamuanga and Mbuji-Mayi to learn about what is being done and could be done in other regions. We are very excited about these initiatives; this blog post gives some detail about some of the initial meetings in Kankala last August. We are grateful that Presbyterian World Mission provided a Continuing Education grant and that Presbyterian Women (PW) also provided a grant, both of which helped make this training and ministry possible.

Women study the Bible in church (Kananga)

Women study the Bible in church (Kananga)

Reconciliation Ministry—In July two Congolese colleagues and Bob participated in the International School of Reconciliation (ISOR) in Kigali, Rwanda, sponsored by Mercy Ministries. In collaboration with our partner, the Congolese Presbyterian Community (CPC), Presbyterian World Mission saw the need for this training and was responsive, providing timely funding to make this training and ministry possible. The training in Rwanda was an amazing experience and has led to some awesome fruit in Congo. So far we have been able to facilitate two healing and reconciliation workshops in Congo and the response has been overwhelmingly positive. If you would like to learn more about our experience in Rwanda, please read our August newsletter from last year. To learn about a workshop we conducted last August in Kabeya Kamuanga, you can read a short entry on our blog. Please pray with us that God continues to use these workshops for healing and reconciliation in Congo.

Pastor Emmanuel of a rural parish rejoices in his new Bible! (Kananga)

Pastor Emmanuel of a rural parish rejoices in his new Bible! (Kananga)

Bible Subsidy Program—In 2015, through our Department of Evangelism, 790 Bibles have been sold at a subsidized price, along with 890 songbooks. Our ability to sell these materials at a reduced rate empowers Congolese church leaders to do the work they have been called to do; moreover, it keeps us in touch with these leaders as they are constantly reaching out to us regarding this need and other concerns. A July blog post gives a few testimonies of this initiative regarding Bibles and songbooks. Many churches and individuals in the U.S. make this program possible!

Pastoral Visitation—In December we were able to visit the port city of Ilebo, the old mission station of Bulape, and the territory center of Mueka. This particular trip was perhaps the most significant and meaningful ministry trip we have made in six years—see “The Incarnation” blog post. Also noteworthy, we were able to make several significant visits to rural parishes and presbyteries within 60 km of the Kananga city center where we live. General giving to the ECO for Evangelism makes such visits possible.

The Ditekemena program for street children—This ministry was officially launched in April 2014 and continues to go strong. We have been able to house, care for, and educate 24 children over the last two years and are now transitioning to reconcile them with their families and/or find families who will receive and care for these children. On a special note, in February 2015 we were able through various partnerships (most notably the Medical Benevolence Foundation) to arrange for a Kenyan orthopedic surgeon and a physical therapist from Nairobi to come and operate on and provide physical therapy for four of the Ditekemena children who have physical handicaps. How wonderful it was to watch Africans minister to Africans regarding health needs! This blog post was written shortly after three of the children were operated on. Many U.S. churches, families and individuals have been very generous to the Ditekemena program for street children regarding monthly program expenses. Thank you!

Women study the Bible in church (Kananga)

Women study the Bible in church (Kananga)

Christian Education (CE) materials—Thanks to the generous gift of a former missionary to Congo, our CE Department has been able to create a booklet in the Tshiluba language of colored, laminated teaching lessons about the life of Jesus for children’s Sunday School; this is a pilot program and we have been able to circulate these teaching materials into the hands of CE leaders in eight presbyteries; the feedback we have received thus far is very positive. We hope to produce more materials of this nature to strengthen and encourage CE programs in churches. This year our Department has also updated a booklet on liturgy, helping pastors and lay leaders as they lead in worship; this booklet has been a “hot seller” since its recent republication. We have also updated a booklet that tells stories of biblical women, intended for use in Bible studies or small groups.

Church leaders take their pain to the Cross of Christ (Central Kasai Province)

Church leaders take their pain to the Cross of Christ (Central Kasai Province)

Pastoral Institutes—Due to support from Presbyterian World Mission, our Evangelism Department has been able to provide additional annual support for the operational expenses of the three Pastoral Institutes. Moreover, in partnership with the Booth Leadership Initiative (BLI), connected with The Outreach Foundation, in 2015 our Department has been able to build new classrooms and a vocational training institute for the Pastoral Institute of Mutoto. Also, our Department has been able to forge a new partnership with Langham Partners UK (John Stott Ministries), providing theology textbooks to the all three Pastoral Institutes of the Congolese Presbyterian Community (CPC).

Church Building Project—In August we consecrated a new church building that our Department raised funds to rebuild after a horrific windstorm destroyed the church building in August 2010; here is a link that describes that special service. On a separate note, also as a result of our partnership with the Booth Leadership Initiative, our Department is currently helping churches build roofs and tackle other infrastructural issues. To date we have assisted seven churches with these needs and have money earmarked to help another 24 congregations with their roofing needs in 2015/2016. The goal of this program is to provide “seed money” to encourage churches in the building process.

Please pray for us as we continue to serve in these ways. Thank you as always for your financial support and prayers. Please know that our service in Congo could not be possible without your partnership. God willing, we will see you this year!

Grace and Peace,

Bob and Kristi


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