Central to our mission and organizational culture is the importance of partnership. The significance of partners who support us through prayer, resources, and presence cannot be overstated. For many of our friends and partners, it has been understandably difficult to practice presence over the past five years. The Ebola outbreak, COVID pandemic, and periods of insecurity have made travel difficult. However, over the past six months the situation has improved and we have been able to celebrate visits by friends and global partners.
Earlier this month, Congo Initiative partners, Kim Dunderdale and Hannah King, traveled to Congo to visit friends at CI-UCBC. Kim and Hannah attend Blacknall Presbyterian Church, a longtime partner located in North Carolina.
Kim reflected, “I visited Beni 10 years ago in 2013. It was great to be back to see folks I haven’t seen in 10 years. But it was also a joy to reconnect with those we hosted here in the US. I was struck by how much every ministry in the organization has grown yet they remain Christ centered and grounded in the vision of ‘[Being] transformed to transform.’”
In addition to visiting the UCBC campus, Kim and Hannah also had the opportunity to see the work of community engagement initiatives, including Bethesda Counseling Center and the Holistic Family Development Center. Kim and UCBC Rector, Honoré Bunduki, had the honor of being present for the end-of-year celebration ceremony for the first cohort of Espace de Capacité, a branch of Bethesda that ministers to children with disabilities and their families.
When asked what it was like to be there and witness the impact of their church partnership, Kim said, “You are not just welcomed, you are celebrated. I was reminded by one of the staff at UCBC that ‘presence is everything.’ The partnership we have with CI-UCBC becomes more real whenever we connect in person with folks there. It is always so inspirational to see the work that is accomplished with minimal resources. I am always filled with gratitude and joy when I see and hear what God is doing through this ministry. Lives and systems…are being transformed through their faithful commitment.”
God is doing something new in Congo. In the face of conflict and hardship, people and communities are not hopeless. They remain resilient and committed to creating change. As Kim explained, “After touring a hospital in Oicha, the medical director left us with these words. ‘When you go back, tell people, there is life here.’ There is life in Congo. God is at work and CI-UCBC is at the heart of it.”