Sunday, September 13, 2015

Team en route for Twa lay pastor training

from Miriam Noyes

It has been an extremely busy summer.  Whew!  There was the last push to finalize the lay pastor training program and get it to the printer.  Then there was a month of intensive research and writing (in French, not my best language) the brief history of the CBCO Baptist women's organization here, prepared for their 50th anniversary celebrations.  What a story!  Then there was the 50th anniversary itself: a week chocked full of activities attended by women from all over the convention, hosted here at the Kinshasa headquarters. 
Miriam with the lay-pastor trianing booklets that Jacques and
Rose will use in the Inongo training.

At the same time we were working with a foot-dragging printer to get the lay pastor training booklets in Lingala ready for distribution.  A two-week job turned into a 7-week contest of wills.  He has promised the final booklets today, but he still has to correct the defective books.

Finally, the Baptist convention held its elective general assembly to choose new leaders at the end of August.  Again we were inundated with out-of-towners.  The three-day general assembly aired the deep concerns of delegates for the future of the Convention and ended with a clear-cut commitment to restoring the focus on God’s call to effective witness and mission – sorely neglected over the past five years.  The dust has settled and the new team is now at work.

Amidst all the flurry, we have moved forward on the long awaited training for Twa Pygmy Christian leaders: pastors and evangelists.  Pastor Jacques Mayala and his wife, Rose (our literacy coordinator), leave for Inongo on Wednesday September 16.  They will lead the 5-week training.  This is a key step in planting authentically Twa, authentically Christian churches. I have been working on this for over a year.  You have given for it.  You and we have been praying for it.  Now the plane tickets have been bought and it is happening. 

The training covers five modules, broken down into 204 lessons, each with questions for assimilation by the participants:
  • each person looking at their own allegiance to Christ and its implications for their life and work as a leader, then
  • an orientation to the Bible, especially some of the key stories,
  • training for discipling new Christians and inquirers,
  • a look at what the Bible says about common problems of life,
  • how to plan worship and other services, including how to preach,
  • all about the church: what it is, the church in Congo, and ministries of the church.
It is a challenging schedule for just one month with people not used to absorbing knowledge this way.  We covet your prayers even more during this month, for teachers, participants and everyone involved.

The town of Inongo has recently become the capital of a new province carved off of the northern part of Bandundu Province, so there are lots of new administrative personnel without housing, hotels are full, and the resources are stretched to their limit.  Although Jacques and Rose will start out in a hotel in town because of a lack of housing among our Twa friends, we will finance the building of a modest guesthouse in the Twa settlement from forest materials, where the Mayalas will stay as soon as it is ready to move into.  We will beg room in a local church for the training sessions.

Our theme in mission this year is Stretching Forward toward the Goal of Advancing God’s Kingdom.  The Twa outreach is a stretch for the Baptist Convention.  Many of you have chosen to join with believers here in stretching toward this goal.  The World Mission Offering is another vital part of the puzzle that makes this possible.  Please give generously.

Join us in STRETCHING FORWARD toward
the goal of advancing God’s kingdom on earth!


Sunday, January 25, 2015

Translating lay pastor training course with Pastor Makwala

by Miriam Noyes

Some of you know that in June I unexpectedly started rather intense work on the Lingala revision of CBCO's lay pastor training program.  Lay pastors are an important part of the organization of rural churches in Congo, given that most pastors are circuit-riders responsible for congregations in multiple villages.  Elements of the program are also very useful for pastors and deacons in urban churches. 

The Lingala version had been on my agenda ever since Brother Thomas and I finished the program revision in Kituba in early 2012.  I had expected to find someone to just do it on their own.  That proved harder than expected.  In June I met up with Pastor Makwala, an old retired pastor and Bible translator.  He explained his situation: in poor health, no pension, grandchildren dependent on him.  He asked for help. 

In past years I had often visited Pastor Makwala's church.  He had planted many churches and he had faithfully pastored difficult congregations.  He had worked with my parents on the first versions of the lay pastors' training program.  Immediately I thought he might enjoy translating the new Lingala version.  And it would give him a reasonable income supplement for a while.  I gave Pastor Makwala the materials to work on and showed him what needed to be done.  Then Ed and I left for 6 weeks in the U.S. for International Ministries' Bicentennial celebrations. 

When I returned, I saw that he had lost sight of the translation task; he had merely proofread what he had in hand.  His still has a keen proofreader's eye.  His skill at oral translation is undiminished.  Still, it was evident that he needed someone to keep him on task to accomplish the translation.  It was also plain that walking from his house to mine for work sessions would be too much for his weak heart. 

So most afternoons since the middle of August I have been working with Pastor Edmund Makwala at his house.  It is just a few minutes away by taxi-bus.  Together we discuss the text for each lesson, revise and translate into Lingala.  The best part of project is wrestling together with the material in each lesson.  This week we were contemplating how Christian families and others deal with the birth and raising of congenitally handicapped children. What does the Bible have to say?  What does life hold for these children?  What are the responsibilities of parents and the church? 

Pastor Makwala's comments on the Kituba version have improved and enriched the Lingala version.  In 2010-2012 Brother Thomas and I found it difficult to find rural pastors with the critical thinking skills necessary to give the text a serious review.  Pastor Makwala has the time and the experience to correct that weakness. 

The program is divided into 5 training modules of more or less 40 lessons.  We are ¾ of the way through the third module: Doctrine and Practice.   The work is stimulating.  In fact it has been reviving the good pastor.  Ill health has kept him from getting to church and participating, let alone contributing.  Before June, he was spending a good part of his days in bed, deteriorating.  Now he has a reason to get out of bed, a chance to contribute again in a meaningful way, and the work is exercising his mind and using his pastoral experience.  His wife, Mama Jeannette is grateful.

They do need the money.  They are raising 5 orphaned grandchildren and paying for their education.  The architect-contractor son who normally supports them has gone through a rough spot recently.  In this picture Mama Jeannette is preparing a piece of the batik cloth she dyes and sells to support them.  She also does some urban farming.  I bring them contributions from my garden sometimes.  Some of your donations to “work of Ed and Miriam Noyes” have been funding this translation effort.  Perhaps by the time we have finished the translation, maybe the end of March, their son will be able to take up the level of support for them again that he used to give.

The association has been a positive experience for me too.  I didn't know Mama Jeannette well before, but she was one of the founding members of the Baptist Women's organization in the 1960s, first president of the urban women later, then a founder of the pastors' wives association.  This year we will be celebrating the 50th anniversary of the CBCO women's organization.  Recording her memories has been an unexpected blessing.

Many people in the Baptist Convention continue to press us to finish the Lingala lay pastor training modules.  You may remember that the Twa pygmy evangelist who leads a church in Inongo (planted through our literacy work) has only one week of formal training with Campus Crusade. He needs and is looking forward to learning from this Lingala lay pastor training program, as is the leader of the other pygmy congregation in Inongo.   At the Baptist convention meetings in November I was inundated with requests from pastors on the south Bateke plateau and those in the Bayaka people's area. Pastor Makwala keeps remarking on how much the leaders he knows in the Kinshasa churches need it. 

The urgency of these demands push us ahead.  The task was unexpected.  The work is time-consuming, at times frustrating. But it is a rich experience.  And we know that the finished training program will help many lay pastors slogging on with minimal guidance to be more effective leaders and disciplers of people trying to follow Christ faithfully.

Pastor Makwala and I thank you, for the chance to contribute in this way to the health of the Church here in Congo.

Update on Mama Luti Makunu

updated by Miriam, January 25, 2015

Maybe you remember this picture.  I told Mama Luti's story in January 2011.  Mama Luti Makunu Mayumbu was one of our very first literacy graduates in the Vanga area.  She had started school, but was pulled out in early primary school to care for her sick mom, who subsequently died.  Then she continued to care for her younger brothers and sisters, and keep house for her dad.  When she grew up she married and continued the same life.  But she always regretted leaving school so early and never learning to read.  Over the years she developed a hunger for God's word in the Bible.

When the woman's president started reading classes in her village she jumped at the chance to learn to read the Bible.  She was the only student who persevered to learn to read well and graduate.  In 2010 I attended a Bible-study Ligue gathering where I met Mama Luti, who had become the Bible study leader for her village.

I haven't been in the Lusekele/Vanga area except for a visit since the summer of 2012, but last month I was talking with the young man who has been leading Sunday school teacher trainings and programs in the area.  He said, “You remember Mama Luti?  Well, she's started Sunday school classes for the kids of her village of Kikosi.  Not only that, but she has become the lay leader and leader of the discipleship class for the congregation at Kikosi.  Yes, she is still the Ligue Bible study leader for her village too.  We're telling her that she's stretching herself too thin, that she needs to choose just one or two things to do.”

Praise God for Mama Luti and the transformation he has done in her life!  God took a simple poor widow, mom and farmer, gave her her heart's desire, and made her the main teller of his Good News in her village.  Praise God for her willing heart to share the Good News that she has found with her fellow villagers, and to respond to  every need.  Pray that God will call others to join her in this service to children, to the church and to those who also want to discover God's Word from her village. 

Sunday, September 28, 2014

The difference that engaged Christian believers can make

Alphonse Bashiya (left), PRODEK's Community Health Endowment coordinator, in a 2013 discussion with a CHE group in Bena Tshiadi, Western Kasai

You are salt for the whole human race.” Jesus sets a challenging standard for his disciples. Salt preserves and gives savor to food. It is essential, indispensable. Do we live up to that description? We claim to have the Spirit of Jesus living in us and leading us into all truth, righteousness and goodness. Still most of us barely distinguish ourselves from the broad spectrum of humanity that doesn’t even flirt with these claims. However, from time to time we see behavior that gives a glimpse of God’s goodness. This past week Christian partners stood apart, showing what the world might be like if we allowed God to remold us more completely.

Three weeks ago Miriam and I appealed for prayer. The Community Health Endowment (CHE) program has encouraged more than 400 community groups in Western Kasai province to plant a community field in support of the health center that gives primary health care to their village. Income from the field pays the subscription fee for a health plan that reduces out of pocket fees at the health center, making health care more accessible at times when family cash is scarce. This year the project is distributing seed of high-yielding varieties to participating groups with the idea of boosting productivity while improving access to affordable health care. 
The glitch is that the rains have started and people want to (and should) plant right now. But the project bureaucracy remains oblivious to such nasty details as optimum planting dates and human needs, despite repeated reminders of the absolute necessity of distributing seed on time. The group distributing seed (PRODEK) still has no contract, nor any funding to ensure that seed gets into the hands of community groups. The project bureaucracy shows no signs of urgency. Even the prospect of failure (significantly reduced yields, loss of community group respect, and ineffective demonstration of the new varieties' potential) seems to have no motivating effect on the local project  managers.

In the midst of this bureaucratic indifference (some might say all-too-human indifference) PRODEK, a health and development initiative of the Presbyterian Church of Kasai, has made a Christian statement. This week I heard part of the story. PRODEK agreed to advance its own (very limited) funds to get seed out to CHE groups. In a courageous statement, its agents agreed to work without a contract. They paid with their own money to arrange transport of seed. They worked from dawn to dusk for two weeks, putting community groups’ needs above their own. When others faced with difficult circumstances and possible failure were preparing excuses for why the operation couldn’t be done, the PRODEK team was figuring out a way forward. They still do not have a contract, but literally hundreds of CHE community groups may still salvage something from this year because of their sacrifice. They have nurtured hope instead of allowing hope to die.

Aid projects are big business in Congo. But spending money on activities is often very different from making a very real difference in people’s lives. Progressing from the first to the second usually takes a special extraordinary dedication. We can be the salt for the whole human race. But I think it takes the living Spirit of God dwelling in us, prompting us to love our neighbors as we do ourselves, leading us to dedicate ourselves to showing Christ. Thank you, Lord, for Alphonse’s willing sacrificial spirit sowing hope as PRODEK distributes seed.

Monday, June 16, 2014

Kikongo pastoral students glimpse God's provision for Congo

Fidji Kifufu has brought new life to the agricultural
program of the Kikongo Pastor's School.
Almost every rural pastor in Congo has a second or third job to make ends meet. (Rural parishes are not known for providing a living wage for their pastor.) Pastor Manunga at Lusekele is a tailor. Family fields, gardens, livestock and fish ponds put food on the table and pay for health care and school fees. Life is a scramble for pastors just like it is for people in the parishes they shepherd.

That is one reason that the Kikongo Pastor’s School (IPK) made agriculture a key part of its program. Leaders wanted to make sure that candidate pastors and their families could make a decent living off the land. But their vision extended further. They knew that better varieties and improved agricultural techniques could improve rural people’s production. (It is not unusual to be able to double production with varieties and techniques available today.) They also knew that people had few opportunities to hear about and try out agricultural innovations. They reasoned that if young pastors could see the potential of agricultural innovations while preparing for rural pastorates, when they started their ministries they would be equipped to share God’s provision for more productive farming, more secure food supply and better livelihoods.

Rita Chapman and Fidji Kifufu inspecting student fields with me in May.  Manioc is robust, with health green leaves and no sign of mosaic virus.  This variety is called Obama, one of the highest yielding varieties to be identified to date.
Despite its importance, the agricultural program had been neglected for years. Students began to wonder why they should even have to cultivate fields at all. In 2013 that changed. IPK engaged an energetic and organized young agronomist, Fidji Kifufu, to work with students. During a short visit last spring, we worked together on a calendar of activities with an emphasis on high-yielding varieties of peanuts, manioc and corn, simple ideas for improving soil fertility, and a strategy for dry-season gardens (a supplementary food source during the “hungry season.”)

At the end of May I spent a week with Fidji and the IPK students. What has happened in the last year has been remarkable. I hope that the change in these families’ prospects (both during their study years at Kikongo and in their future parishes) is equally remarkable. The shift in direction was not easy.

Students started off grumbling a lot. Cultivating fields is hard work. Juggling classwork and fieldwork, especially during planting and early weeding, requires intelligence and persistence. Under Fidji’s guidance, the students planted two new varieties of peanuts and manioc. The rains didn’t cooperate – three weeks of drought just at flowering time). The peanut harvest was disappointing … until students compared their yields with the even more disappointing yields of neighbors cultivating the current traditional varieties.

The manioc fields I saw this week are the best fields in years. Manioc plants are tall and vigorous. Disease-resistant varieties dominate the student fields for the first time ever, I think. This may be the first year that student families can supply most of what they eat from their own fields rather than having to buy food on the local market or maybe even go hungry.

Second-year pastoral student getting started on a dry season garden.  This garden will keep a family in nutritious greens for four months, crucial extra food particularly important for growing children.
Fidji encouraged students to plant riverside gardens during the dry season last year. In past years, students maintained their gardens only through the last marking period of the school year. But in 2013 many families continued to plant and harvest vegetables through the long vacation. According to Rita Chapman mothers were astonished at how well they ate during the dry-season break because of those gardens.

Fidji standing in waist-deep soil-enriching cover crops at the site of the pastoral school's dry-season gardens
Students have been experimenting with cover crops this year too. Vining plants in the bean family help restore nitrogen and organic matter to the soil. After eight months the gardens are ready to give another crop of nutritious vegetables. I found the students clearing and shaping the new planting beds. Rita says that many students remarked on how easy it is to clear and prepare the site covered in a cover crop (as opposed to natural woody bush fallow.) Renewed fertility and less effort to prepare the next year’s garden – cover crops are beginning to make practical sense to students.

Students still grumble about the work in their own agricultural fields. But after a year the grumbles are somewhat muted by surprisingly healthy crops and improved production. Two weeks ago Rita wrote again after an evaluation of student fields.

“What really wowed us all was the impressive number of manioc tubers under each sample we looked at from each field. With only gentle digging, we counted 17 tubers on one plant - and there were probably more underneath that we didn't see. An Nsansi plant [improved manioc variety] had 15. The students are thrilled. . . . The third year students are saying that when they leave next week, they are going to tell everyone along the way that there is no more hunger at IPK."

Every once in a while we get a chance to be part of people catching glimpses of provisions that God has made for people here in Congo. Seventeen tubers on one plant is not a fluke; it is the regular production of superior varieties planted at the right time and cared for throughout their production cycle. God created those plants and created inquisitive scientific minds that “discovered” them and the techniques that make them highly productive. Who better to tell people in impoverished communities about them than a new pastor who has literally tasted the fruits of God’s handiwork?

Thursday, April 3, 2014

The Twa of Inongo : Trying to establish their place in a modernizing Congo

For some followers of our journals this may be a little too dry.  But we think it helps to understand more about the circumstances that shape the lives and outlooks of the people with whom we work.  This short piece complements Miriam’s recent blog about the literacy team’s recent trip to Inongo.
-- Ed and Miriam

Pygmies in Congo are people living between two worlds.  They live in clusters but are scattered in nearly every province of the country.  For generations the government has wanted to see them settled in towns, abandoning itinerant life in the forest.  Some Pygmy groups have settled voluntarily, hoping for a more stable and prosperous life.  While some succeed, most find only poverty, malnutrition and marginalization outside the forest.

The Twa living around Inongo encounter multiple barriers to progress in life outside the forest.  Many of the majority Bantu have deep prejudices against them that lead to abuse and exploitation.  Legally they are full citizens of the Congo.  However, even for Bantu citizens enjoyment of legal protections and rights is not automatic; for the Twa, prejudice often eliminates any rights they have.  They are often forced to work without pay or for half of what a Bantu would get.  The law does not recognize traditional Twa forest-use rights and Twa bands hold land only at the sufferance of a Bantu land chief.
Bantu prejudice excludes or severely limits Twa access to education and health care available to the majority population.  Teachers and fellow students disapprove of Twa students sharing classrooms with Bantu students.  Extreme poverty makes it hard for Twa parents to pay school fees.  Health service workers are often unsympathetic and unwelcoming.  Public health outreach (vaccinations, well-baby clinics, deworming and nutrition campaigns) often pass them by, forcing the Twa to rely exclusively on traditional medicine.  Poor education and poor health have predictable effects on their ability to earn a living, and ability to influence the social and political structures that define their opportunities.

Of course Pygmy tradition and the dysfunctional adaptation to settled life impose their own limitations.  Seasonal hunting and gathering remove children from school, interrupting learning progress.  Lack of proper attention to hygiene, poor nutritional practices, early marriage and motherhood : all contribute significantly to poor health.  The stresses of life on the margins of Bantu society also lead many Twa to seek relief in alcohol or cannabis.

In making the transition to settled existence, many Twa have not yet fully adopted permanent agriculture: when they have fields, they're often very small.  Becoming a farmer requires hard-to-obtain land, unfamiliar seasonal planning, food stores in reserve, and assurance that the harvest will belong to the family rather than the landowner.  It is a long and daunting list.  Cutting fields for others, and working as hired labor for Bantu farmers is often a more familiar (if much less lucrative) decision for people with the day-to-day mindset of hunter-gatherers.
Facing barriers every day of one’s life can crush the spirit, suck away hope.  The Twa don’t need any do-gooder’s pity.  But they do need constant reminders that they are cherished by God and bear His image.  They need inspiration, knowledge of how others facing similar challenges in a changing world have transformed their circumstances.  They need imagination and creativity that help them to understand and protect the distinctives that make up their essential identity . . . and help them to adapt to the modernizing world.  We ask the Lord to be their guide, their refuge, their strength.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

A return visit to the Twa community in Inongo

 Rose and Raymond on the tarmac on the way to Inongo

blog entry from Miriam Noyes
In February, Rose Mayala, Raymond Mafuta and I packed up for a 10-day trip to Inongo, a medium-sized town on the northeastern shore of Lake Mai-Ndombe. The lake is 500kms northeast of Kinshasa. People in western Congo know it for dried fish. The regional fishing industry exports tons of dried fish every month. Inongo is also the home of many groups of the Twa, originally hunter gatherers who call themselves the Original People, or "O.P." (though even that is a name borrowed from outsiders and it has a distinctly bureaucratic ring to it.) [Note 1]   They have largely abandoned hunting and gathering in the equatorial forest for settled agriculture and town life like that of the dominant Bantu [Note 2]  people in the region.

Our literacy group has been working with the Twa in Inongo since 2007, when UNESCO paid for our first outreach. This was my first trip to see the work myself. I wanted to see what progress they have made in literacy, but we had a wide-ranging agenda: agricultural help, discussion with Twa leaders about community life and aspirations, the growth in Christ of Twa believers.

Ten Twa communities ran literacy classes and French classes for all their people, under our leadership. But many had run out of steam since the literacy team’s last visit. Two factors seem to have contributed to this decline. First, irregular supervision makes it hard to help groups in Inongo maintain focus and enthusiasm. We can't afford frequent trips and had lost phone contact. Second, as literacy groups advance, they need to begin using reading and writing skills in some practical way to satisfy their needs and interests. The Inongo person who was to help did nothing. Many of the groups lost interest, floundered and gave up.

This visit was the literacy team’s first foray into addressing the practical needs of the community. The Inongo Twa groups had asked for machetes and hoes, and “help” to plant fields and vegetable gardens. But it is knowledge used strategically, that really helps, not one-time gifts of a few tools. We brought with us seed cuttings of the best-producing manioc variety from Lusekele, garden seeds, chaya seed cuttings and Moringa seed. We spent much our time with them planning manioc multiplication and distribution to all their communities, sharing knowledge about the new plants, and teaching how to plant more effectively. We talked about the changes this could bring to Twa communities. For example, chaya3 and moringa4 trees provide lots of high-value protein in a very limited space – a boon to under-nourished people with little land. Manioc and its nutritious leaves, can be harvested year around, unlike crops they depend on now.

Paul Bokola Nkanda, one the Twa literacy teachers, divvying up the garden seeds

One of the Twa literacy teachers had continued his studies and become an experienced agricultural technician. He helped with the teaching and agreed to follow-up the manioc and garden multiplication plots after we left. He was hungry for literature on the new plants. This created the opening for functional literacy which we are always looking for.

Now that I know what they need, we can send them useful agricultural information to be read and disseminated through literacy classes. We, of course, encouraged them to restart their literacy classes. In terms of goals, we asked the teachers to send us lists of their most advanced students, and prepare them for graduation. Rose thinks she can get back there this summer to hold the graduations. This should encourage them immensely.

We also had two immediate recommendations for further programming for literacy classes. First, use public health education materials for reading and class discussion. The materials are very good. They are adapted to several levels – from simple to more advanced, often in the regional language or in French. Many times they are barely used by health workers. Health and nutrition education will help their communities in big way.

Second, in the advanced French literacy class, use the devotional lectionary from the Bible Reading League (Scripture Union). Our French program doesn't have a Bible component built in; this would add it. The Bible reading, reflection, and application exercises will help students grow spiritually. They will also help their reading fluency, French understanding, and build comprehension and analytic skills for texts of all kinds. The lectionary will also help their church leadership.

Rose gave the church a Lingala hymnal, and teachers are looking forward to copying off its hymns to teach in their Lingala classes and for worship. The students should love that. Then, when we finish producing the functional literacy program we're making for our teachers this spring, we will send them copies, to help them get and use even more relevant material for their students' lives.

Rose noticed that everyone's health had declined. They told us there had been a lot of deaths recently. She also noticed that latrines, adopted after our advocacy, were disappearing, and that there were children with bellies full of intestinal parasites. Leaders were pessimistic that the health system would send them a de-worming team without Bantu advocacy. Fortunately Rose's son, a doctor due to visit Inongo this month, can investigate, instigate a de-worming campaign in their communities (which reminds them to build and use latrines more), and get the health literature we want for them.

Our Twa friends have also had a setback in formal schooling. A local politician promised them free schooling if he got elected. So when he got elected, they stopped paying school fees. Their students were kicked out of school, their primary school classes shut down. Obviously he was not able to make good on his promise. So we've encouraged them to pay again and get their primary school classes going again.

We discovered a curious fact: most Inongo Twa high school students are in the teacher-training or French literature tracks, despite the facts that no one will hire them to teach and far more practical options (business skills, biology & chemistry, wood-working and agriculture) exist. Why? Teacher training and French lit are the cheapest options available to poor people. We suggested that more practical programs would help their communities more. Will they change? We don't know. A positive development was seeing married young mothers continuing their schooling.

 Martin Ngonde, a young pastor in the Disciples of Christ community, is new to Inongo.  He has close ties to the Twa community and agreed to mentor leaders of the Twa Baptist congregation.

To Rose's sorrow, the cooperation of Bantus and Twa achieved during their 2012 visit has not continued. In fact, Bantu who were previously friendly have soured. We don't know what has happened. However, by God's grace, Martin Ngonde (pictured above) arrived as a new Disciples of Christ pastor to Inongo. He says he has had Twa friends since childhood. His church is quite close to the main Twa community. He has agreed to help them, and oversee the development of the church they have started, despite it being in a different denomination. It is he that had the field ready to plant, where our manioc cuttings have been planted for multiplication, for distribution next planting season.

 Jean Longomo, the Twa evangelist who leads the Baptist congregation in Inongo

Visiting gave us ideas for how we could help their new church grow as a community of Twa believers, even at a distance: with prayer, letters, like Paul, and some specific materials. It has a leader, Jean Longomo, leader of the Twa church of Inongo, a man who went through a week of Campus Crusade training, Bibles, and now a Lingala hymnal. That's a beginning. And they know what other CBCO churches do. Now it's a question of helping them to learn how to commit themselves to Christ, leaving all other allegiances behind, and follow him as only Twa can do, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit.


1    The original inhabitants of the Congo basin were identified by the early European explorers as "Pygmies" because many groups of forest people first encountered were short-statured. The Original People don't accept this label themselves, but it has come to be a useful term when talking in general about the original forest peoples of central Africa. The designation "Twa" is a Bantu word meaning "hunter-gatherer". In the Inongo area this is the term the Bantu use to designate the original inhabitants of the forest. (Other main Pygmy groups are identified as Mbuti, Cwa and Aka.) 

2    The Bantu are the people you think of as ordinary Central Africans. Their ancestors immigrated into West and Central Africa, pushing the original inhabitants, the Pygmies, into the forests and taking over land rights. There are many tribes. Over the centuries Bantu and Pygmies have intermarried (though there are many traditional taboos against mixed liaisons.) 

3    Chaya is a fast-growing vegetable bush from Central America whose leaves are tasty and rich in protein, vitamins and essential minerals. It is fast becoming popular everywhere it is introduced. 

4    Moringa is the tree to have if protein-deficiency threatens or you're forced into a vegan diet. Its leaves are rich in rare meat-like protein, complementary to other vegetable proteins. Reportedly, severely protein-deficient children return to normal after two weeks of moringa leaf therapy. It is also rich in iron, calcium and vitamins. The immature pods cooked, are compared to asparagus, the flowers to mushrooms. It has many important medicinal properties as well. Moringa processing industries are springing up all over the developing world to serve a growing demand.