Everything we do is done in collaboration with our Congolese leadership. This means that we never “import” answers to Congo’s challenges from the outside. Instead, the solutions to Congo’s challenges come from within–from local communities and leaders who know the longings of their people and who lead us in finding the resources to fulfill those longings. Although we are Congolese-led, we collaborate with friends and colleagues from the international community in the spirit of “tuko pamoja” — “we are together.”
Congo Initiative - Université Chrétienne Bilingue du Congo
Congo Initiative – Université Chrétienne is a registered non-profit and private education institution located in Beni, Democratic Republic of Congo.
CI-UCBC Leadership & Staff
David Kasali, PhD
David Kasali, PhD
Both David and his wife, Kaswera, were born and raised in Christian families in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). Together, they have three boys, Baraka, Chris and Steve. David’s father received the Lord when the first missionary from the USA arrived in the East of Congo in the early 1900s. He learned to read and write, accepted the Lord, and served as pastor for over 60 years until he was promoted to glory in 1996.
David earned a Master’s degree in geography and education in Congo in 1980, then served as assistant manager in a private company for two years before the Lord called him to full time Christian ministry. In 1982, David left his job and served for two years as a teacher and chaplain in a high school. David and his family joined Nairobi Evangelical Graduate School of Theology (NEGST) in 1984, where he graduated in 1987 with a Master in Divinity. After NEGST, David served as Coordinator of the department on Ethics, Society and Development of the Association of Evangelicals in Africa (AEA). During that time, he traveled extensively in the continent of Africa holding seminars with African pastors and theological educators to deal with issues that churches and societies face in Africa. In September 1989, David and his family joined Trinity International University (TIU) in Chicago, Illinois, where he graduated with a PhD in New Testament.
Kassie trained as a nurse in Congo. While in Nairobi, Kenya, she got her diploma in Christian Ministries and Bachelor’s degree in Bible and Theology and received her Master of Religious Studies at Trinity in 1993.
Upon their return to Africa, David served for two years as a faculty member and eight years as President of Nairobi Evangelical Graduate School of Theology (NEGST), equipping pastors and Bible teachers for churches in Africa. During that time, Kassie served as a faculty member teaching in the Christian Ministries program. She enrolled in the PhD in Educational Studies at Trinity International University in 1998 and graduated in 2006.
While serving at NEGST, the Kasalis were torn by the war situation in their country, DRC, and felt called by the Lord to help rebuild lives, families and communities through holistic ministries with churches from various denominations. Together, they created Congo Initiative, which has both a Congolese and US board. Soon after leavingNEGST, the Kasalis moved to the States for three years of preparation and relationship-building in an effort to lay a solid foundation for the establishment of Congo Initiative as a non-profit organization.
The Kasalis used these years in the States to build partnerships with churches, institutions, and individuals who would come together to support the growing vision and goals of Congo Initiative. While in the States, the Kasalis were based in Brookfield, Wisconsin, where David served as part-time pastor at Elmbrook Church, one of Congo Initiative’s most significant church partners. David and Kassie also took short-term mission trips with US Christians to various ministries in Congo. Additionally, David served as an adjunct faculty member at Phoenix Seminary, in Phoenix, Arizona.
After three years of service and preparation in the States, the Kasalis relocated permanently to DRC in 2007 to formally inaugurate Congo Initiative’s Université Chrétienne Bilingue du Congo (UCBC – The Bilingual Christian University of Congo), which now has over 650 alumni! In 2019, Dr. David Kasali transitioned from his role as Rector to give his full attention and energy as President of CI. The Kasalis now make their home in Beni, North Kivu Province, DRC.
Kaswera Kasali, PhD
Kaswera Kasali, PhD
Kaswera (or Kassie, as she’s known) trained as a nurse in Congo. While in Nairobi, Kenya, she got her diploma in Christian Ministries and Bachelor’s degree in Bible and Theology and received her Master of Religious Studies at Trinity in 1993. Upon her and David’s return to East Africa, Kassie served as a faculty member teaching in the Christian Ministries program at NEGST. She enrolled in the PhD in Educational Studies program at Trinity International University in 1998 and graduated in 2006.
Kassie leads the Holistic Family Development programs in Beni which includes La Charité Primary School and Vocational Training and Counseling for Women.
Honoré Bunduki, PhD
Honoré Bunduki, PhD
Since the very beginning of UCBC, Dr. Bunduki has served passionately as Academic Dean and more recently, Vice-Rector of UCBC. He earned his Ph.D. in Education from the University of South Africa (UNISA). Affirmed by colleagues, board leadership, and the wider community, Dr. Bunduki was appointed as the second rector of UCBC in December 2018. He demonstrates the expertise, skills, and leadership required to lead UCBC into this new season. While Dr. Kasali cast the vision for this unique university in eastern Congo, Dr. Bunduki played a crucial role in implementing its programs and structure. We are confident that UCBC will grow, prosper, and deepen its roots under Dr. Bunduki’s leadership, maintaining the vision embodied in the university’s motto: “Being transformed to transform.”
Théophile Muyisa Katuka
Théophile Muyisa Katuka
Théophile joined Congo Initiative (CI) in 2013. Théophile first served at UCBC as the Economics Faculty Secretary. Later on, in 2014, he served as the Economics Faculty Coordinator. Théophile participated in Congo Initiative’s Advanced Studies Program, receiving a Master’s degree in Finance from Daystar University in Nairobi, Keya. He returned to Beni in August 2019 to serve as the Chief Financial Officer for CI. He assists the VP of Financial Management to ensure that CI has robust and excellent financial management systems and compliance with relevant laws and regulations of the DRC government. Théophile also teaches a few courses in the Economic’s Faculty at UCBC.
Barnabé Kazambua Bin Bendela
Barnabé Kazambua Bin Bendela
Jolie Sifa Kpaka
Jolie Sifa Kpaka
Daniel Masumbuko heard about CI-UCBC from its founder Dr. Kasali after they fled from Ituri because of ethnic war in 2001, and immediately saw the value of the vision and the impact it would have in transforming the nation. Since then and guided by faith, he has worked with CI-UCBC. He also serves as elder in the Brethren Church in Beni and served as Finance Director for many years at the Evangelical Medical Clinic of Nyankunde.
At CI-UCBC, Daniel serves as the Finance Director and Chaplain, and the Director of the Center for Church Renewal and Global Mission. In this last program, he and his colleagues run reconciliation and trauma healing seminars in post conflict zones such as Ituri and Uganda. They are covering the Oriental Province and the Kivus in the DRC and also serve in Uganda and Rwanda with their sister organizations. Many lives and relationships have been restored as result of their work. At UCBC, he serves as a member of the Management Committee and contributes to the daily management of the institution. He holds an MA in Finance and International Trade from Herriot Watt University in the United Kingdom, and currently studies in the DMin program at Africa International University in Nairobi, Kenya.
Daniel is married to Claudine Masika Ndjadi since October 2, 1983. They have six children, two boys and four girls. Their oldest two daughters are married and have children of their own.
*In 2012, Daniel was honored as one of the Tanenbaum Peacemakers in Action finalists for 2012. The Tanenbaum Peacemakers in Action award recognizes the work of faith-based, local leaders who give of themselves to pursue peace and facilitate reconciliation in their communities.
Innocent Bora Uzima
Innocent Bora Uzima
Paul Robinson, PhD
Paul Robinson, PhD
Paul Robinson was born in the Belgian Congo as a son of missionaries, whose life has been profoundly shaped by a life-long personal and professional engagement with Africa. As a boy, he became a refugee, fleeing from advancing Congolese rebel militias. Years later, while completing high school in Kenya, he buried his father in Congo’s soil. With an insatiable need to understand the continent that bequeathed to his deepest pain and greatest joy, he earned both a MA and PhD from Northwestern University as a Fulbright Scholar in African History. He and his wife Margie then returned to Africa with St. Lawrence University, where they raised three children, and where for three decades he developed and led what became a premier international academic program for St. Lawrence University. During that time, he also developed and led varied university initiatives in Africa and designed, consulted, and evaluated development programs that addressed critical issues relating to poverty and human need – including a major response to the HIV-AIDS crisis. In 1999, he joined the faculty of Wheaton College as Professor and Director of the college’s Human Needs and Global Resources (HNGR) Program, where he served until 2013. He has and/or continues to serve on the boards of missions, advocacy organizations, and international organizations, participates in international development initiatives, and lectures and consults globally. His passion, heart, and professional life have centered on a broad range of development concerns, but particularly on the formation of young people for ethical and moral leadership in a rapidly changing global context. Deeply resonating with the authentic Congolese vision of Congo Initiative (CI) for responding to Congo’s desperate need, he accepted Dr. David Kasali’s invitation to become a founding member of CI, and has joyfully and enthusiastically served CI since its inception in 2003 in multiple capacities as consultant, scholar, teacher, board member, board chair, CEO/President, and most recently, Senior Advisor. In 2013, he took an early retirement from Wheaton College as Professor Emeritus, in order to give his full energies to the transformative vision of CI.
Rose Kirere has a particular passion for health studies and community development work. After completing her training at the Nyankunde Nursing School, she went to the Nyankunde Nursing College, where she got my BA in Community Health and then went to France where she got a ‘Licence’ Degree in Local Development and a Master’s Degree in Cooperation Project. Her background has widely prepared her to appreciate how development and community transformation works. It was a joy for her when she first came in touch with UCBC leadership back in 2008, and they offered the opportunity to teach a class in Biblical Principles of Development.
Today, she is among the General Assembly members of the organization. She believes in the tremendous work of training prospective leaders who are ethically and intellectually prepared to change their challenges into opportunities. Rose is married to Professor Kirere and they are blessed with seven children, two boys and five girls. Of those children, four are adopted.
Kisumba Kamungele is the Export Director at Ets. TSONGO KASEREKA, a Butembo-based family business that has been in operation for the last four decades. He holds a Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering from Purdue University (Indiana, 1996) and a Master of Science in Mechanical Engineering from Université Laval (Québec, 2001). After his studies abroad, he returned home to work in the family business and for the past ten years has traded green coffee and cocoa beans, linking the Congolese small-scale farmers to the international market. In addition, he is involved in a variety of national and regional coffee initiatives aiming to revamp the Congolese coffee sector and African coffee industry. He is the president of the DRC Cocoa & Coffee Exporters’ Association (ASSECCAF), the DRC Country Chapter Vice-Chairman of the African Fine Coffee Association (AFCA), and the Executive Director of Café Africa DRC, a non-profit organization. He also earned a Masters degree in Coffee Economics & Science from the University of Trieste (Italy, 2016).
Kisumba shares hopes in contributing to the reconstruction of DRC by contributing his skills and international experience to CI-UCBC. Today he is a member of the CI-UCBC General Assembly and a visiting lecturer in the Engineering Department of the Applied Sciences Faculty. He is married to Julie Kavira since March 2002 and has a daughter named Suzanne Kanyere.
In 2016, Matt moved to Beni to supervise the structural retrofit and remediation work of the UCBC Community Center. Over the course of his 5 years working with Congo Initiative he became captivated by its vision of training Congolese future leaders for the transformation of Congo. He is honored to be able to play a role as a member of the General Assembly to ensure that this vision continues to grow.
Matt received a Bachelor Degree in Environmental Design from Uganda Martyrs University in 2015 and is currently pursuing his Master of Architecture Degree from the Illinois Institute of Technology in Chicago, where he lives with his wife Jessica.
Steve Tracy, PhD
Steve Tracy, PhD
Congo Initiative USA
The mission of CI-USA is to promote Christian higher education, leadership development, and community transformation in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) through personnel and financial support to CI-UCBC. CI-USA is registered as a 501(c)3, tax-exempt organization.
Justin Hubbard first became involved with Congo Initiative in 2007, when he was invited to help implement CI’s flagship institution, UCBC. A one year commitment turned into two, and then three. Each year he grew more passionate about Congo Initiative as he witnessed its impact. In 2010, he returned to the U.S. to pursue a Master’s Degree in Divinity at Duke University and engaged in theological reflection on topics such as ethics, race, identity formation, social and international policy.
He remained committed to the important role that education and non-profit organizations play in empowering individuals and supporting community development. After working with World View at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (a public service program that offers professional development in global education for K-12 and community college educators) Justin was invited to join Congo Initiative USA in 2016 to help improve its communications and development.
After serving a year and half as interim Executive Director, Justin was appointed as permanent ED in January 2022. Justin is dedicated to ensuring the sustainability and scalability of Congo Initiative, believing that it serves as a beacon of hope and a leader in developing changemakers to ignite systemic change in Congo.
Justin has over 12 years of experience working with public service and non-profit organizations, seven of which are with Congo Initiative. He holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Individualized Studies from the University of Minnesota and a Master’s in Divinity and a certificate in International Development Policy from Duke University. He currently lives in Baltimore with his wife Thaniyyah and their son Gibran.
Laura has worked in the nonprofit realm since graduating from Gordon College in 2007. She is particularly passionate about student development as well as grant research and writing. Her previous roles included serving as an Assistant Resident Director at Gordon College and a Volunteer and Service-Learning Coordinator at a community hospital. Laura first learned about Congo Initiative from board member, John David Bower and became more and more captivated with CI and its mission to educate and empower the next generation of Christ-centered transformational leaders for the flourishing of the DRC. She is grateful for the opportunity to serve as a Grants Assistant for CI and to learn from her sisters and brothers across the globe.
Laura lives north of Boston with her husband and their two little boys. She also enjoys serving on the leadership team of her local MOPS International group. She holds a bachelor’s degree in Sociology and Youth Ministries and is currently working towards a Masters in Nonprofit Management at Northeastern University.
Bill Shewan serves Congo Initiative as our Senior Ambassador. In this position, Bill plays two vital roles for the organization. First, he is an advisor to the CI board and executive leadership. Second, Bill cultivates relationships with donors and seeks to develop networks of support for the organization.In his ministry with CI, Bill is able to draw upon his extensive experience as a nonprofit executive. Bill worked for Youth for Christ for 44 years. Early in his career he served as Associate National Training Director for YFC/USA for three years, then nine years as YFC Executive Director in Marion, IN, and two years as Associate Director for Ft. Wayne, IN YFC. Bill then served for 18 years as a coach and mentor to various YFC Boards and Executive Directors in his capacity as National Field Director for the Great Lakes Region of YFC/USA (40 local offices in 5 states). For 10 of those years he organized and hosted national training for incoming Executive Directors from around the country. In 2011, Bill launched YFC’s Legacy and Gift Planning Ministry in local YFC chapters across the nation. Most recently, Bill served as national ambassador for YFC/USA, building relationships with ministry partners, mostly in the Midwest.
Bill holds a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration (Valparaiso University) and a Master of Arts in Religious Education (Trinity Evangelical Divinity School). He is an ordained minister and lives in Indianapolis, IN. Bill and his wife, Michelle, have two adult children, including Jessica, who is serving as Administrator and International Staff Coordinator for CI’s Center for Development and Partnership in Beni, DRC.
Emily Rhodes joined the CI-USA team as Administrative Coordinator in November 2021. She has worked for more than 15 years in nonprofit organizations, both in the U.S. and South Africa, covering a range of functions from office management to client service to program development.
She is excited to be part of the Congo Initiative team because of how the work and mission of CI resonate with her values. She appreciates how the voices of the people most impacted are centered as the organization is led by Congolese people for Congolese people. While CI is based on a foundation of education, it goes beyond that to promote transformational and systemic change through holistic leadership development. She also values its Christ-centered approach as the true source of flourishing for all people.
Emily holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology from Tufts University and is currently pursuing a Master’s in Justice and Advocacy from Fuller Theological Seminary. Originally from the Chicago area, she has lived in New Orleans for 13 years and is a member of St. Roch Community Church.
CI-USA Board of Directors
A corporate America citizen turned advocate for the New Way of Working, Julie began working as an independent, fractional Chief Market Officer in 2018 after 15 years of in-house marketing experience at B2B technology leaders like Red Hat and Oracle as well as startups backed by reputable VC firms like Benchmark Capital and Menlo Ventures. Julie’s work is predicated on a belief that every organization has an interesting story to tell, but many lack a compelling way to describe what they do and why it matters — in a commercial context and in language anyone can understand.
She strives to bring an entrepreneurial mindset and honest authenticity to everything she does: Esse quam videri. She runs on coffee and wine and is unapologetically snobbish about both. She is Partner to Ben, Mom to John, and splits her time between two beautiful places: Durham, North Carolina and Columbia Falls, Montana.
Timo joined the CI USA board in 2019 but his connection to Congo began in 2008 when he lived in Goma in eastern Congo for 9 months. He wore a lot of hats but primarily worked with HEAL Africa and Global Strategies for HIV prevention to enable the local production of a Ready to Use Therapeutic Food (RUTF) for severely malnourished children treated at the hospital. Timo currently lives in central Connecticut with his wife and 2 daughters. He has a Mechanical Engineering degree from Columbia University and an MBA from NYU Stern School of Business. For most of the past 20 years, he has worked in the commercial property insurance industry and has experience training and coaching leaders, creating operational efficiencies, developing new capabilities and services, and being mindful of how budgets, strategies, and purpose come together to fulfill an organizations mission. Timo is honored and excited to be part of the CI USA board.
Caroline’s love of Congo began during her undergraduate years when she took a course on Modern Sub-Saharan Africa taught by a retired diplomat. After that course she spent a summer as an English teacher in DRC. Her B.A. in French and Political Science from Texas Tech University and her M.A. in International Affairs from the Bush School of Government and Public Service at Texas A&M University encouraged her to pursue a career in international development. During her time at Texas A&M, she worked with the Center on Conflict and Development, an international development research lab, where she discovered her passion for international agricultural development and deepened her passion for seeing peace and development in DRC. After finishing her graduate studies, she served as a Murdock Fellow at World Vision, where she advised marketing teams on food security content and worked with corporate donors. Caroline also worked for the Post-Harvest Loss Innovation Lab at Kansas State University, where she supported the research of technologies and approaches that reduce post-harvest loss in developing countries. Her experience includes program management, grant writing, and donor relations with public, private, and individual donors. She is particularly interested in the intersection of higher education and international development and enjoys facilitating partnerships between university systems and NGOs. Caroline enjoys using her skills and experience as a board member for CI-USA.
Chelsie currently works at Google as a recruiter for engineering talent. Prior to working in recruiting, she spent 20 years in the faith-based international development sector. From 2007-2011 she lived and worked in DRC as the Service-Learning Coordinator at UCBC. She feels indebted to Congo Initiative’s leaders and students from whom she has learned much about faith, resilience, and life. Chelsie considers it one of the great joys of her life to serve on the US Board of Directors for Congo Initiative. She lives in Seattle with her husband and three spoiled dogs.
David Eagle, PhD
David Eagle, PhD
David Eagle is a faculty member at Duke University in the Global Health Institute and the Department of Sociology. He also serves as research Director for the Clergy Health Initiative at Duke Divinity School. His passion for shaping and forming healthy and effective leaders for the church builds from his six years serving as a pastor in Victoria, Canada.
He first visited the Eastern DRC in 2016 and wholeheartedly supports Congo Initiative’s vision to develop Congolese leadership. As a board member, he wants to enhance collaborative partnerships between Africans and North Americans. The challenges facing our world require us to live into the reality that we are in this together.
David finished his Ph.D. in sociology at Duke in 2015 and holds a Master of Divinity from Fresno Pacific Seminary and a Bachelor of Mechanical Engineering from the University of Alberta. He has a love for woodworking, cooking and baking. He lives in Durham, NC with his wife, Alison, a climate scientist, their three kids, two cats and six chickens.
Susan Heller Evenson
Susan Heller Evenson
Susan Heller Evenson was first introduced to DR Congo through the world of specialty coffee. As a green coffee trader at Seattle-based Atlas Coffee Importers, she frequently travels to the African Great Lakes region to strengthen relationships with Atlas’ coffee-producing partners. She’s actively involved in strengthening the coffee value chain in DRC and has also developed curriculum as a Content Creator with the Specialty Coffee Association.
After receiving her BA in Comparative Religion and Comparative History of Ideas from the University of Washington in 2005, Susan spent time in Switzerland studying Comparative Literature at the University of Geneva. She’s happy to continue her penchant for comparing things by regularly cupping/tasting coffee.
Susan first learned about the Congo Initiative in 2018 and has been an enthusiastic supporter of their transformative work in North Kivu. She is honored to join Congo Initiative’s board.
When not at Atlas, Susan can generally be found reading, rock climbing, crafting, running (in the rain, after her two kids, or occasionally both), or trying to get above the rain clouds and into the mountains.
Mary Henton had the privilege of being a CI board member from 2008 – 2011, during which time she spent several months in Beni. It was during that time that she experienced the power of a compelling vision despite overwhelming odds. She joined the staff of Congo Initiative as a Strategy and Development Facilitator in 2011. From 2015 – 2018 she served as Director of Faculty Development and Bilingual Affairs at UCBC.
Mary brings 30 years of education and leadership experience to her current position as a leadership coach and learning and development consultant. She holds a BA in education from Gordon College and an MEd in learning and development from Harvard University.
Mary is blessed with three adult children, their partners, and a granddaughter.
Ann Mastergeorge, PhD
Ann Mastergeorge, PhD
Dr. Mastergeorge is a developmental psychologist and holds an endowed professorship at Texas Tech University in the department of Human Development and Family Studies. She directs the Institute for Developmental Science and is the senior director for engaged scholarship initiatives in the Office of the Dean in the College of Human Sciences. Her research focuses on engaged scholarship in the following areas: (1) typical development in social attention and joint attention; (2) prevention and early intervention for young children with autism (including early indicators of autism and autism risk); (3) parent-mediated interventions and parent-child interaction; (4) understanding ‘at-risk’ development and resilience indicators and mediators of development related to poverty; and (5) the impact of toxic stress and adverse life experiences on brain development. She has published numerous papers in these areas and has had several grants that study the impact of health disparities and poverty on early development. She is currently working on a co-edited book entitled The Impact of Poverty on Early Development: Implications for Practice and Policy.
Francine Nabintu is a Bilingual (Fluent: English and French) Gender Technical Advisor with significant academic and work experience focusing on Program Management and Global Health. Originally from Congo, Francine started her career in peacebuilding (with a focus on gender) in the Great Lakes region in East Africa, and since coming to the US she has continued her focus on violence prevention and support to youth peacebuilders. Francine has joined the Gbowee Peace Foundation-USA as the Program Manager. The Foundation supports grassroots organizations that increase girls’ access to education in West Africa. Mrs. Nabintu holds a Bachelors in Communications/Journalism from UCBC and a Masters in International Development Practice from Emory University.
Christen Price is a human rights lawyer who engages in legal advocacy to end impunity for all forms of sexual exploitation. In that capacity, she works to influence courts and legislatures toward protecting human dignity and equality for survivors, through legislative advocacy and litigation, particularly with respect to sex trafficking, prostitution, child sexual abuse, and pornography. Christen received her JD from Georgetown University Law Center, and a BA in philosophy from Cedarville University. Christen first encountered UCBC in 2010, when she visited Beni as part of a legal internship based in Northern Uganda. She reconnected with Congo Initiative after hearing Paul Robinson, who taught and mentored some of her fellow parishioners, give an update at her church in 2017. Christen is honored and excited to join Congo Initiative’s board.
Congo Initiative UK
Board of Directors
Bill McAllister, PhD
Bill McAllister, PhD
Bill McAllister was born in Congo as the son of missionary parents and lived there off and on until graduating from Rift Valley Academy in 1970. His family witnessed much violence in Congo at independence and also during the rebellion of 1964. Returning to Belfast, Northern Ireland, in 1970 they found themselves at the height of the IRA bombing campaign where they witnessed more violence. It was at this moment he realized that the human condition of sin was universal. We all need forgiveness from God. On this conviction, he dedicated his life to missionary work. He completed his undergraduate studies at the Queens University of Belfast and a Ph.D. at the University of Aberdeen, Scotland.
Returning to Congo, he lectured and became the Director of the Bunia Theological Seminary and then left to become Africa Director for Compassion Canada. Returning to the UK, he worked as CEO for Christoffel Blindenmission UK. He is now the acting CEO of Congo Initiative UK.
His wife Norma, is a retirement care-home manager and they have 4 children; 3 live with their partners in Cambridge, England, while 1 lives with her partner in Dubai. They have 3 grandchildren and counting…
Judith joined Congo Initiative – UK in November 2019 as Fundraising and Communications Coordinator.
She has an extensive background in project management, events management and administration both internationally and in the UK. Judith holds a bachelor’s degree in Spanish and French from Queen’s University of Belfast and a postgraduate Diploma in European Business Administration.
Judith has a deep passion to see social transformation and enabling people and organisations to better achieve this. Based in Spain for over 10 years, and with extensive travel, Judith managed the International Office of the NGO World Horizons, where she supported the organisation both in international coordination and communications, as well as regular field visits supporting leadership across multiple countries.
Prior to joining Congo Initiative UK, Judith worked in London, UK, for 10 years in the charity sector in project development and management, senior administration and event management roles. This work focused on improving outcomes for young people experiencing disadvantage locally and nationally through education and mentoring. Judith has recently returned to live in Northern Ireland and is excited to be using her skills and experience to help develop CI-UK as it supports the work in Congo.
Olufemi Akinlabi, MD
Olufemi Akinlabi, MD
Dr. Olufemi Akinlabi was raised in Lagos, Nigeria. His dad was Muslim while his mother was Christian. Though he attended mission primary and secondary schools, he was raised Muslim. He grew up seeing his mother attend church (African Church Mission). He qualified as a medical doctor in Nigeria in 1990. After periods of compulsory post-qualification postings and years of working in Nigeria, he left for Lesotho in 1999. While there, he was employed in a Christian Mission hospital, Maluti Adventist Hospital in Mapoteng. It was in Mapoteng that he met Jesus Christ and gave his life to the Living God.
He came to Ireland in 2003 to join his family and also continue work in his field of study. His family lives in Cavan and are members of the local church, Cavan Baptist Church. He has served in the Church as a Deacon and as Church Secretary, and was recently elected into Eldership. Olufemi is married to Olufunke since 1993 and their marriage has been blessed with two girls who are in college in Dublin and a boy in secondary school.
Eric Clarke is currently the Christian Blind Mission Country Manager for Northern Ireland. His first professional qualification was in Environmental Health, becoming a Member of the Institute of Environmental Health and Member of the Royal Society of Health.
Following God’s call to use his musical gift, he joined the staff of the Movement for World Evangelisation as soloist. Following ten years in this work, he studied Financial Services and worked in the profession for 15 years, developing his own financial consultancy practice.
He joined the Council of Belfast Bible College, which he chaired for three years. He also joined the Board of Christian Ministries, an umbrella organisation overseeing the ministry of three former colleagues–John Blanchard, Peter Anderson, and Derek Cleave. He has been the Chair for twenty years. From 2001-2012, he was on the Board of Prison Fellowship (NI) and acted as Hon. Treasurer.
In 2008, he became a Trustee of the Christian Fellowship Trust, a small but significant organisation in helping as ‘start-up’ supporters of new initiatives for the Kingdom of God. Following retirement from Financial Services, he joined Christian Blind Mission in 2008 and will be retiring in March 2016. God has doubly blessed him with a second wife, Helen. My first wife, Sally, passed away 27 yrs ago. They celebrated 25 years of marriage in May 2015. She has been a wonderful support and encouragement to all his ministry.
Heather’s interest in serving in Africa began when she was very young, as her parents held a monthly missionary prayer meeting in their home. Bob and Alma McAllister and their family stayed with us after their traumatic time in Congo, and the prayer group prayed faithfully for their work there.
After studying French and German at Trinity College Dublin, Heather trained as a teacher at the University of Wales and taught modern languages at secondary level for some years. Biblical Studies at the Irish Baptist College as well as further study in linguistics, literacy and Bible translation led to her and her husband Philip joining Wycliffe Bible Translators in 1980.
For the first twenty years, they were involved in the translation of Scripture into Kouya, a previously unwritten language of Ivory Coast. The Kouya team produced an alphabet, a dictionary, reading books and literacy materials, and eventually a New Testament was published in 2002.
When not working abroad, Heather was a regular lecturer in Phonetics for Wycliffe trainees and also for several years at Ulster University. After completing a Master’s in ESOL at Queen’s University, Belfast, she taught English to Speakers of Other Languages part-time for ten years.
Since 2010 the Saunders have also been members of the Seed Company, an affiliate of Wycliffe. They are translation consultants with experience in Ivory Coast, Madagascar and, since 2015, in Western Zambia. They hope, God willing, to see two more Zambian New Testaments completed within the next few years. They have three married daughters and five grandchildren.