I have made you and I will carry you; I will sustain you and I will rescue you. Isaiah 46:4
Greetings from Donna and Jonathan Baker, your former Global Ministries missionaries serving in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Even though we have officially retired from Global Ministries, we continue to stay very involved in the projects of the Congo Partnership and want to keep you up-to-date on the amazing things that God continues to do in Congo. This newsletter focuses on the Partnership goal of self-sustainability in our projects and highlights the newly launched Life Skills Program at the Mpasa Medical & Nutrition Center.
In the Partnership Covenant Agreement with the US Partners and the Central Congo Episcopal area, it states: The goal of the mission is a self-sustaining United Methodist Church with holistic ministries empowering people in their context, community and country. To truly strengthen and empower people for the future, every project should have the goal of becoming self-sustaining so the Congolese people will have these projects for generations to come. There is no doubt that our Congolese brothers and sisters in Christ have the skills, motivation and desire to care for their people. Often the only thing needed are resources which you have helped provide. In addition to providing financial resources over the years, the Partnership has also been intentional in coaching, mentoring and training so that those involved with the projects could expand their skills and move the projects toward self-sustainability. Throughout, the Congolese people have also taught us so much with their creativity, faithfulness, patience and perseverance in the face of incredible challenges.
The goal is challenging in settings where poverty prevails and there is little opportunity for economic growth for the people but we celebrate the places where we see this happening. One of those is the new program just launched at the Mpasa Medical and Nutrition Center where the Partnership has provided a sewing program for the community for many years. In 2017, the Congolese leadership realized that including other trainings could empower the community to expand their market and on June 10, 2018, an inauguration of the expanded program, now titled “New Life Skills” took place. The area District Superintendent and other leaders in the Kinshasa West District literally “cut the ribbon” to launch the program. The program now includes sewing, sandal making and will phase in tie dying and soap making in the next few months reaching many more families in the community. The goal: to help persons learn a trade so they can earn incomes that will enable them to provide food for their families and finances resources to pay for medical services and other necessities. Since Mpasa is in such an impoverished area, it is not feasible that people would be able to pay for all their medical care or that families could pay for their children to participate in the nutrition program. However, if they can become more economically stable, many could feed their children in their homes making room for other needy children in our nutrition program or pay for medical services making it possible for Mpasa to care for others in the community.
This could not happen without all of you. The Partnership is so grateful for the gracious gifts from so many to aid this program: generous donors from Florida provided the funding to educate a young woman named Alphonsine to maintain and repair the dormant sewing machines. Wow! The machines function now like they’re brand new! Praise the Lord!
First UM Church Hurst in Texas and Avenue UM & Centreville UM in Delaware & Maryland have also shipped large boxes of sewing notions and tools, such as scissors and pins and needles, that have enabled the participants to function appropriately. Imagine the excitement of the participants when they receive a US donor’s leftover rick-rack that embellish a simple dress touches our hearts. We find it so amazing to realize that ‘stuff’ we have stored away in our houses like unused ribbons and threads can change lives in Congo!
In order for the Life Skills Program to reach the status of self-sustainability, the participants in the program will market locally products they make such as clothing and elaborately decorated flip-flops. A percentage of the income received will replenish the program’s expenses and provide participates personal income as well.
Special thanks to Innocent Afful, a Global Ministries Missionary, who established similar programs throughout Kinshasa at the orphanages he oversees. He has spent many hours at Mpasa working with Dr. Adolphe Yamba Yamba, the Medical Director, and Anthony Papano Stephie, Dr. Adolphe’s Administrative Assistant. The entire team has worked hard to bring this program to fruition. They involved the community in the decision-making conducting several meetings with hundreds of interested people in the community over the past several months. What a joy to see the excitement of these residents who know their culture and the marketable products!
Thank you, God, for this amazing new beginning and for the Congolese leaders who continue to work so hard to help make this vision become a reality. And thank YOU, for your ongoing prayers and support. Your generosity and prayers are changing lives every day.
As they chant in Congo: God is good!
All the time.
All the time
God is good
That is God’s nature. Wow!