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Prosper Tunda greets supporters after being elected governor of the Maniema province on March 28. Tunda, a member of Bethlehem United Methodist Church in Tokolote, is the first United Methodist governor since the Congo became independent in 1960. Photo by Chadrack Londe Tambwe, UMNS.

Photo by Chadrack Londe Tambwe, UMNS

Prosper Tunda greets supporters after being elected governor of the Maniema province on March 28. Tunda, a member of Bethlehem United Methodist Church in Tokolote, is the first United Methodist governor since the Congo became independent in 1960.

United Methodist elected governor in DRC

 

By Chadrack Londe Tambwe
April 2, 2018 | KINDU, Democratic Republic of Congo (UMNS)

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East Congo Bishop Gabriel Yemba Unda, right, congratulates Prosper Tunda on his election as governor of the Maniema province. Tunda’s family hosted the first Methodist missionaries in East Congo in 1922. Photo by Chadrack Londe Tambwe, UMNS.

Prosper Tunda, whose family hosted the first Methodist missionaries in East Congo in 1922, has been elected governor of the Maniema province.

A member of Bethlehem United Methodist Church in Tokolote, Tunda is the first United Methodist governor since the Congo became independent in 1960.

“I dedicate this victory to Almighty God,” Tunda said after his win, which he attributes to his Christian leadership.

The news of Tunda’s victory on March 28 delighted United Methodists in East Congo.

“On behalf of The United Methodist Church in Eastern Congo, we hasten to present our warmest congratulations,” wrote East Congo Bishop Gabriel Yemba Unda in a congratulatory message. “May God be praised.”

The bishop urged Tunda to observe the fear of God in his new role. “We wish you a good job, because the Bible says to the Romans 13:1b ... ‘for every authority comes from God.’”

United Methodists in Bukavu organized a motorized caravan to express their joy after hearing the election results.

“The Lord answered our supplications. For nearly a month, we prayed and fasted. This victory comes from God,” said the Rev. Maman Kombe Atumishi, pastor of Bethlehem United Methodist Church.

Tunda, whose full name is Tunda Kasongo Lukali Prosper, is chief of the village of Tunda, an area with a strong United Methodist presence. He is the third in his family to be chief of the region. He also runs The Tunda Foundation, a nonprofit he founded in 2004 that helps with various United Methodist projects. The foundation is currently working on the construction of the Mama Lynn Center, a refuge for Congolese rape survivors in Kindu.

The governor-elect also is the coordinator of the International Leadership Institute in Eastern Congo and a representative of the Episcopal Region of the Eastern Congo Standing Committee.

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Prosper Tunda, chief of the village of Tunda, an area with a strong United Methodist presence, waves to supporters after being elected governor of Maniema. Photo by Chadrack Londe Tambwe, UMNS. 

 

The Rev. Antoine Kalema, district superintendent of the South Kindu district, said Tunda’s election is reason for United Methodists to rejoice.

“Today is a great day for The United Methodist Church and even a historic day,” he said, noting the church’s long presence here.

“We thank the American missionaries who came to live with us in Tunda in 1922. Before long, we will celebrate the centenary. Even if they are no longer there, we keep a very good memory for all that The United Methodist Church did for the province of Maniema,” said Kalema, who is coordinating a centennial celebration.

The election of Tunda “shows the love of God toward the Methodists in Congo,” said the Rev. Kombi Ramazani, director of connectional ministries for the Kivu Conference.

Dr. Damas Lushima, youth coordinator of the conference, called the election a blessing for the province and the church.

“Governor Tunda is a true leader who embodies tremendous spiritual and moral qualities, but also, and most importantly, intellectually. Certainly, we are reassured. We sincerely thank the Lord for giving us a disciplined United Methodist at the head of this province.”

Dr. Claude Watukalusu, medical supervisor in the Kivu Conference, said he is optimistic after Tunda’s victory, especially after also seeing another United Methodist elected president of Liberia earlier this year.

“My impression is very good … in this period of wakeup; personally, I would say this is an answer to our prayer that qualifies as an anticipated Easter gift. The righteousness raises a nation.”

Londe is a communicator of the East Congo Conference. Judith Osongo Yanga and Philippe Kituka Lolonga contributed to this report. News media contact: Vicki Brown at (615) 742-5470 or newsdesk@umcom.org. To read more United Methodist news, subscribe to the free Daily or Weekly Digests.