On April 27, 2016, Congo Initiative, UCBC, and the local church, La Communauté Baptiste au Centre de l’Afrique (CEBCA), lost a pillar in the community, Mbusa Kamabu Thaluliba Manassé.
Manassé’s legacy was not simply made through his role at UCBC, but as a pastor to many and a father to all. Until his last days, his students, colleagues, and friends called him “Papa Manassé.” He served the community in a way that went beyond expectations, touching the lives of those around him with grace, wisdom, and love. He embodied the kind of leadership the people of Congo desire for its transformation.
Manassé’s passion for God, people, and education showed itself throughout his life’s work serving as an educator, pastor, mentor, and administrator. He served as the General Secretary for Administration at UCBC from 2011 to 2014 and as Head of the Theology Faculty in 2013. He was a long-time leader in CEBCA. Committed to theological studies, Manassé was in the process of completing a Doctorate in Theology from Africa International University. He is survived by his wife Kavira and five children: Jeremiah, Amos, Annie, Gedeon, and Jonathan.
Over a thousand people participated in the mourning and burial rituals in Beni and Butembo, giving witness to the countless lives Manassé impacted across the region.
Message from the family of Manassé
“Thank you for the love that you have been showing to Manassé since this sickness period began until now. People from communities around the world have shown us love in giving out their resources, their time to share with him hope, their wisdom and much more. We thank all the people because since he was sick, they were giving the best of them to see him get better. From the beginning of the sickness, people helped us with prayer, funds…all kinds of help! We want people to know that they didn’t waste their resources. We loved him but God loved him more than us. Our prayer is that we will be able to continue with the ministry that he was running. We are praying that God helps us keep with the mission that we started together. Let all of us keep this way of doing things. Let’s be good for all the people and be kind to share all we have for their good.”
Congo Initiative – UCBC community held a special Chapel service in honor of Manassé
On Wednesday, May 11, 2016, the Congo Initiative community gathered during chapel at UCBC in honor of Manassé. Memories and tributes were given by his colleagues, students, and family, in honor of Manassé’s life and impact on the community.
Mary Henton, Director of Faculty Development and Bilingual Affairs, was given an opportunity to share a few words – words that captures the way Manassé embodied GRACE.
Grace. It is the word that rings loudly when I think of Papa Manassé. Grace—a gift freely given without expectation, without merit. I’d like to share a few examples of what grace looks like and what grace does as Papa Manassé lived it out among us.
Grace listens. Grace does not rush in to advise, correct, judge. Grace seeks first to understand.
There were many occasions when Manassé, in his role here as administrator, had to mediate disagreements, misunderstandings, and conflicts between people. I recall discussing a couple of situations with Manassé, as they touched my life and work here. Manassé’s stance was, “I will go and listen.” He recognized that each person, each party had its perspective on the situation. Each one had needs and expectations, fears and feelings. He knew that the answer to the issue lay somewhere in that mix, and that his responsibility was to listen, and to help each person listen to each other. Grace listens and seeks to understand.
Grace also offers “sacred space” for that listening. When we have sacred space to simply tell our story, we discover the resolution to that story. We find that we already know the answer to our problem. Manassé practiced “sacred listening.” He gave time and space to people and to their stories. He listened without judgment. He maintained confidences.
Read Mary’s complete reflection, An Invitation to Grace.
Tribute from Paul Robinson, Senior Advisor, CI-USA and Vice President, CI-UCBC General Assembly
“Tukopamoja — we are together! Manassé and I grew up on opposite sides of the mission stations where our parents lived and worked; Manassé on the Congolese and I on the missionary side. In our respective locations, we each grew up aware of the visible and invisible chasm that separated us — seemingly unbridgeable divides of race, culture, gender, and economic status. I found a brother in Manassé who was committed to understanding and bridging that deep rift. Manasse’s life was tangible evidence of his longing for a time when we would truly live out Jesus’ core desire for his disciples – that we would be pamoja / united and together. Together with his wife, Kavira, and his children, Manassé lived this fully through his smile, twinkling eyes, embrace, and welcome. Ever hospitable, caring, concerned, and compassionate, Manassé, fully embodied his deep understanding and practice of the good news of reconciliation. Tukopamoja — we are together!”
Tribute from Jonathan Shaw, Integrated Research Institute
“I was 8 when I first met Manassé at Scott Theological College in rural Kenya. Scott students came from across east Africa–a diverse group of passionate, committed young church leaders. My childhood memories are full of encounters with deeply warm and loving people who cared for me like family. Within that wonderful group, however, one family always stood out–and not just because they were the only people I knew from the distant, exotic-sounding country of Zaire.
The specifics of my earliest memories of Manassé are hazy, but overflow with a sense of his unique presence. There was something ineffably intense and delightful in the way would speak with me, his eyes sparkling, this wide wry smile on his face as he teased me about my soccer skills and taught me a word or two of French. Although I couldn’t articulate it then, he carried an aura of the presence of the Spirit about him–a kind of love and wisdom that attracted many hundreds of people to him throughout his life, I no different.
I never forgot Manassé, and was delighted to reconnect with him and his family as he pursued further studies at NEGST. During one summer break from my boarding school Manassé and I bumped into each other and he invited me, last minute, to eat with his family that night in his cramped student apartment. I was stunned by the feast Kavira conjured with no notice, and the company of these precocious, delightful kids around the table. What men and women of God they have become! Again, even in these quotidian moments of food and fleeting fellowship there was something indelible about how Manassé lived in the Lord and invited you into the warmth and beauty of that world.
The blessings of being able to serve on mission with Manassé and his family as an adult, even briefly, are so rich and so many–the powerful lessons he taught me in word and deed will never be forgotten. His candor, passion, and kindness were unique gifts to me and my family that cannot be replaced. I feel the deep ache of losing him as a colleague, mentor, and friend even thousands of miles away. I also feel so grateful to God that my sons had the unique opportunity to experience the intense love and warm engagement of Manassé and his incredible family.
As a servant of God, a father, and member of the local church in Congo I aspire to leave even a fraction of the legacy Manassé leaves behind in countless lives. Praise God for his life and service, and the inspiration he was and will always be to so many.”