Sustainable support for Congo pastors

The three Mennonite denominations in the Congo and Africa Inter-Mennonite Mission are embarking on a project to assist and accompany congregations to reinforce local and sustainable support for pastors.

In the three AIMM partner Mennonite denominations of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, small congregations often find it difficult to meet their obligation to support their pastors with adequate shelter, food, and other necessities. As a result, the church is weakened.

Pastor Guy Ifata (pictured) has taken on the challenge of pastoral leadership for the past thirteen years. Married with four children, he leads the Bethel Kwilu local church, a congregation of 90 members, in the city of Kikwit. Bethel Kwilu is in the midst of constructing walls for their church. Pastor Ifata and his wife, Lydie Sumbeno, are helping with the construction project, not only providing some financial support but also labour.

Pastor Ifata’s salary is not fixed. He receives a lump sum at the end of each month, which on average amounts to 25,000 Congolese francs, or $10. This amount is insufficient to meet the family's basic needs, such as food, healthcare, education, and clothing. Therefore, Guy and Lydie undertake additional income-generating activities.

Selling fuel on the side allows Guy to supplement the income he receives from the church. He buys a barrel (200 liters) of fuel and sells it by the liter. In addition to being active in the church, Lydie buys bales of second-hand clothes and sells the individual pieces of clothing at the market. These two economic activities help the family to survive and meet some of their needs, and even support the church’s construction project, but it is not enough.

AIMM’s pastors’ project will provide training to help Guy and Lydie maximize earnings and add capital that will increase their volume of sales, augmenting their income to meet their family’s needs. After choosing pastors and their congregations and setting up action plans, the accompaniment project is providing training in entrepreneurial and management fundamentals to the participants. Pastor Guy Ifata is one of the 50 pastors embarking on this initiative.

The project will provide start-up funds for pastors who have successfully undergone the training and who present viable and sustainable action plans for their bi-vocational initiatives. Income-generating activities will include small grain mills to grind cassava and corn, retail village pharmacies, retail village general stores, raising swine, and other activities. Each beneficiary pastor and congregation pair will reimburse the start-up funds, sharing reimbursement payments evenly (50%-50%). Reimbursed funds will be invested in additional income-generating activities. Each loan is $500.

This project is similar to one already being run successfully in Burkina Faso. Church leaders within AIMM share ideas and resources to build each other up. Mennonite Church Canada International Witness is grateful for donors who supported the project in Burkina Faso and invite participation in this project as well.

Please consider giving a gift that will help congregations and pastors continue their ministries while receiving the support they need.

Donate online below or by e-transfer to Designate in the memo to Congo.