He told the story of the Methodist Church in Congo. When things looked grim and started to turn grim–Congo’s war, which started in 1998 and is now the largest humanitarian disaster since World War II, most missionaries and church leaders left town. The Methodist Church of the North Katanga Conference and Bishop Ntambo Nkulu Ntanda made another decision.
They would stay and they would do their best to offer God’s love in the face of unimaginable suffering.
I once heard from Bob that 40,000 United Methodists died because of this war. Yesterday, I sent Bob a message and asked him how many Congolese UMC pastors perished because they stayed. He wrote:
I tried to get some hard numbers, but we’re talking about a ten-year period. In asking 5 district superintendents, their responses were in the range of 8 to 12 pastors per district, a similar number of spouses, and they didn’t know how many children of parsonage families. Extrapolate that to about ten districts in the worst of it.Several pastors were killed out right or tortured by standing up to the warlords or invading armies, most died of the harshness of the appointments, the hunger and disease.
What we’re trying to get noticed now is that, even though the fighting has stopped, these pastors are still out there, waiting for some backup.