Mado Fumunguna teaching
No Small Harvest Field
By Jeanette Windle with Mado Fumunguya
Mado Fumunguna from Kinshasa, capital of the Democratic Republic of Congo, has never been one to sit idle. A pastor’s wife with five adult children and four grandchildren, she has a graduate degree in English, taught French at the American School of Kinshasa (TASOK), and serves as secretary for the Église du Christ au Congo (ECC), or Church of Christ in Congo, a federation of ninety-five Protestant denominations in the DRC. But when Pat Govender, Africa director for In Step with the Master Teacher (ISMT), BCM’s children’s ministry training program, arrived in the DRC in April 2017 to hold training with ECC leadership, Mado took time from her busy schedule to be Pat’s translator from English to French, the DRC’s official language. Little did she know what all that would entail.
BCM’s association with the ECC dates to 2014 when BCM president Martin Windle met with ECC leadership in Kinshasa to sign a partnership for training children’s ministry leaders throughout the ECC’s twenty-five million membership (see “Please Come Back Again and We Are Waiting,” BCM World, 2014). Pat’s arrival in 2017 was the first major training planned in three regions of the DRC (see Keeping a Promise, BCM World, 2017). Mado spent eight days translating for Pat among different denominations in Kinshasa. Then came a setback. Pat’s partners scheduled to teach and translate in Goma over a thousand miles from Kinshasa had not arrived. Mado agreed to accompany Pat as translator.
“What Pat didn’t know was that she was raising a disciple through her translator,” Mado expresses. “While I was translating, I started feeling the call to become an ISMT trainer and equip the church for children’s ministry the way I saw her work. When Pat asked me to teach a portion of the training, that was a precious opportunity. Back in Kinshasa, I started doing ISMT training in local churches with Pat as my mentor.”
Shortly after her return, one church leader invited Mado to his village about five hundred kilometers from Kinshasa. Accepting the invitation, Mado held an ISMT training for sixty-four Sunday School teachers in that area, including church leaders. This was only the beginning of many such trainings. Along with her secretarial work, Mado has served as a resource person for teens and children in the ECC. She works directly for the first Vice President of the ECC, Bishop Nyamuke, who oversees the departments of evangelism, missions, and church life, which includes children’s ministry and Sunday school. Once Mado introduce ISMT to her boss, he immediately saw the value of this resource and appointed Mado to introduce ISMT to ECC leaders.
In 2019, BCM DRC director Dr. Djawotho Kisa appointed Mado as Lead Trainer for the DRC. Today she oversees ISMT training for 23 of the 26 provinces in which the ECC has churches. With ninety-five denominations encompassing twenty-five million members, multiplication of is vital. God has been raising up teammates for Mado. Kathy Shafto, a Baptist missionary, has provided transport and help with training in multiple ISMT events hundreds of kilometers from Kinshasa. Dalida, a Kinshasa-based children’s ministry leader, helps with organization and logistics.
To date, Mado has trained hundreds of church leaders, Sunday School teachers, parents, orphanages workers, as well as university chaplainship programs, which function as evangelism and local churches on college campuses. Another ISMT Lead Trainer Stephanie Sudman (see Taking the Lead, BCM World 2019), a missionary with Africa Inland Mission, oversees training for three eastern provinces, especially with CECA-20, the AIM-founded national church denomination that encompasses over two thousand churches, centralized in eastern DRC. CECA-20 ministry leaders Rilega Pierre and James D’Jadri are Lead Trainers who also spearhead training in eastern DRC.
In 2021, CECA-20 leadership formed a commission to train church leaders in children, youth, and chaplain ministries within the denomination’s twelve districts, including the use of ISMT. In October 2021, Stephanie and her team completed a tour of the first six districts on the eastern side of DRC with a total of one hundred and eighty participants. This was a miracle as two of the districts were in red (no-go) zones dominated by rebel guerrilla groups.
“The Lord gave us the peace we needed long enough to hold the seminars,” Stephanie expressed in her follow-up report. “Only today, the military has closed the highway and has started clear the area of rebels.”
Current plans are to complete training in the last six CECA-20 districts by mid-2022. This includes an in-depth Train The Trainer (TTT) event to prepare chosen ministry leaders from each district so that they can take over and continue ISMT training within their district. Mado explains why children’s ministry training is so vital for churches in the DRC since within Congolese culture, children are often considered to have little value.
“In a Congolese family, parents may eat meat but feed their children greens or a bit of fish. They may sleep in nice beds in a bedroom, but children sleep on a mat in the living room. Fathers rarely speak to children except to give commands or discipline them. Even in churches, children are neglected. In March 2021, Dalida and I trained about fifty Sunday School teachers at a big, nice church with many offices. I asked if they had provided rooms for Sunday School children. Unfortunately, there weren’t any. That was when the leaders recognized children weren’t valued in their church despite having a Sunday School program. Other trainees have shared that they hold Sunday school under the trees because church leaders value adult services while neglecting those for children.”
Mado is seeing that attitude change through ISMT’s emphasis on evangelizing and discipling children, who are the future of the church. One trainee who is a pastor had been told that children shouldn’t be allowed to respond to an altar call as they weren’t capable of such a response. Through the ISMT training, he came to realize that even young children could respond to God and made a decision to follow Jesus.
Another Sunday School teacher shared how she’d never bothered to plan her lessons since Sunday school was about keeping the children entertained during the adult service. On Sunday morning, she’d start thinking about what game or song to play with children. After participating in ISMT training, she wrote, “I am repenting because I have learned that I need to prepare my lessons, get prepared for my students, and pray for them. That is how I will definitely value children from now.”
For all that has been accomplished, much remains. Mado asks for prayer as there are no funds to cover training, travel, or fulltime trainers. All trainings to date have been through the generous volunteered time, effort, and donations of transport and materials from members the ISMT team. Mado concludes: “BCM has a lot to do in DRC. Ninety-five Protestant denominations with very wide-open doors for children to work through ISMT is an incredible opportunity that should be capitalized upon!”
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