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Henriette Awuy points to the new church building for Bita United Methodist Church. She donated money and sheet metal for the building.

Photo by Pierre Omadjela, UMNS

Henriette Awuy points to the new church building for Bita United Methodist Church. She donated money and sheet metal for the building.

Dream, banner help church in Congo village

By Pierre T. Omadjela
June 14, 2016 | BITA, Democratic Republic of Congo (UMNS)

A banner reading “Bita Methodist Mission” that was hung under the front door of a palm tree branches church building resulted in a donation for a new building for a United Methodist church in this village about 80 kilometers from the capitol city of Kinshasa.

Last year, the Rev. Apomana Famba Dje was paying his own expenses to get to Bita, where the West Congo Conference had opened The Bita United Methodist Church several years before.

 “But I did not lose the hope to my God. ‘If there is something I can do for your work, tell me oh God, I will do it to build a church for you my God,’ ’’ Apomana said he prayed.

“One day, after receiving my salary of $30 U.S. at the end of the month, I decided to make a streamer and I asked three boys to put it up every Sunday morning, and remove it at 6 p.m.”

Those three boys had been vital in starting the church in Bita. One of the boys went to a farm every day, even on Sundays. He dreamed that if he kept going to the farm on Sundays he would be bitten by a snake and die. So he and the other two boys decided to find a church and pray on Sundays. They began attending the Bethel II United Methodist Church, which was 5 kilometers from Bita, where they lived.

When Apomana came to Bita, the three boys worked with him and now serve as evangelists for the church.

After he had the banner hung, Apomana left to attend his mother’s funeral. When he came back several weeks later, he found he had received money $1,000 U.S. and 25 pieces of sheet metal for church building to replace the palm-branch structure.

The woman who made the donation was traveling from Kinshasa to Bandundu when she saw the streamer.

“One Sunday, I was going on my way and I was sleeping on the car. One of my employees worked me up and told me ‘Mother, here is your church,’ ’’ said Henriette Awuy. “When I woke up, I saw the streamer under a palm tree branches where people were having their church services every Sunday. I lost peace in my heart all the day.”

“I was disturbed and I could not understand seeing my brothers and sisters stopping the church service whenever the rain arrived during their time of prayer,” Awuy said. She called the district superintendent and asked if there was a church in Bita.

The Rev. Louis Loma Otshudi, East Kinshasa district superintendent, told her there was a church and she said she didn’t want the worshippers to pray outside, so she donated $1,000 and 25 pieces of sheet metal for a new building.

“I am excited to see that my dream is a reality today,” Awuy said at the inauguration of the new church on June 5.

Damas Omadiheke, the lay leader of the East Kinshasa district, expressed his pride in the church and the lay members “who are doing their best to contribute with their means to the work of God.”

Bishop David K. Yemba, although still recovering from a case of malaria that sickened him during the 2016 General Conference, went to Bita to bless the new church.

“The General Conference 2016 is over, but God's work is still on,” Yemba said. In his blessing prayer, he asked God to put his eyes to the local church and to always hear prayers of the members.

“When your servants will pray to you in this local church, hear their prayers, forgive their sins and answer to them,” he prayed.

“The house of the Lord is finished, but we still need to build a house for the pastor, so he can come and stay here to pursue God's work,” Yemba said. “Also, our hope is to have, schools and hospitals for the development of our community.”

United Methodists from the West Kinshasa and Central Kinshasa district joined in the celebration, too.

Boniface Okende Bonge, the conference lay leader, said the conference leadership encourages people to contribute for the purchase of more land. He asked the church leaders to continue building a good foundation in the minds of young people so that they are strong Christians and will not be “disoriented by teachings which are creating problems in other countries.”

Omadjela is special projects manager for the Information and Communication Technology for Development program of United Methodist Communications serving in the Congo Central Conference.