By Pete Ekstrand
GEMENA, DR CONGO (August 11, 2015) — New continuing education opportunities for ministers offered by the Congo Covenant Church (CEUM) have a high probability of leading to revival, church leaders said.
The intensive three-day seminars, which have been funded through Friends of World Mission, are taking place in six communities: Gemena, Karawa, Gbadolite, Wapinda, Bumba, and Kinshasa. Three seminars have been held since July 19, and the remaining three will be held later this year or early 2016.
The CEUM has 1,774 pastors serving 250,000 members in northwestern Congo. Pastors are poorly paid or only paid in kind by their congregations.
Despite the seemingly large number of pastors, the breadth of area served means isolation is a major obstacle for pastors who seek mutual support and education. Resources are scarce and transportation is basically non-existent.
“Having a decentralized means of continuing education allows for many more of our pastors to participate and we’ve wanted that for a long time,” said CEUM Vice President Jacque Vungbos.
So far, 730 pastors have attended the seminars. One of the ministers, Matthieu Mbula commented, “the pastors in the seminars were so attentive. If they missed scripture reference they wanted us to go back and repeat it. They did not want to miss a thing.”
Members of the CEUM and David Stockamp a project missionary to Congo, spent two weeks together in April designing the material. He has been thrilled at the response.
“I was so grateful for the sacrifice these pastors made to be there,” said Stockamp, “Many came on bikes, while others walked or hitched a ride. Some came part way by canoe!”
Returning to teach the classes had a special meaning for Stockamp because he suffered a heart attack in Congo in 2014. “As I watched the communion lines form my heart brimmed with joy,” he said. “I thanked God for the opportunity to come back now for the third time since last year’s heart attack.”
World Mission still is raising funds for the $40,000 project, which will cover the two-year Continued Pastoral Education Initiative (CPEI) and provide further training.