I’m excited to share with you about an opportunity that I have to go to Kinshasa in the Democratic Republic of Congo. My church, New City Fellowship sends a team to Kinshasa every year to maintain relationships with pastors there as we work on building health clinics and caring for orphans. These relationships developed as Congolese immigrants became part of our church family in St Louis, and we began to share their concern for the welfare of the DRC. Our vision is to partner with churches in Kinshasa to encourage each other in the gospel of Jesus Christ to walk in the light of the kingdom and to produce good works of love and mercy.
Whenever we hear about the D.R. Congo in the States, we usually hear about the violent civil wars or the widespread poverty. However, despite its hardships, the D.R. Congo produces unique and exciting forms of music known as Soukous and Rhumba. The Congolese style of virtuosic guitar playing has garnered fans all over the world, and is a technique that I aspire to master. Every year, when the New City Fellowship team returns from Kinshasa, they share with me stories of amazing musicians and passionate worship that defies the suffering in which it is born.
Last summer, I had the opportunity to meet with Athoms Mbuma, a pastor and musician from Kinshasa. Athoms and his wife are members of Le Groupe Adorons L’Éternel or G.A.E.L., a band of musicians who produce the best known worship music from the Congo. Athoms led songs in our worship service, gave a special concert, taught a clinic on Congolese music, and even gave me a guitar lesson. I was very blessed to meet Athoms for his skill, his faith, and his encouragement. Before he returned to Kinshasa, Athoms invited me to come visit him and to experience Congolese worship at its source.
The door has opened for me to accept that invitation by traveling to Kinshasa with the New City Fellowship team from May 25-June 6. In addition to pastors and medical professionals, we will have two other musicians on the team, Tony Myles and Suzanne Bates. We hope to both learn more about Congolese music and to share some about American music at a 3 day pastor’s conference. Pastor Athoms plans to return with us at the conclusion of our visit in order to have a special concert and worship clinic in St Louis.
Obviously, we need your prayers for safe travel and for spiritual fruit, but we also need financial help. This trip will cost $3000 for each member to travel. My family and I will use $1000 of our personal funds toward the costs, but we need your help to cover the additional $2000 which would be possible if 40 families gave $50 each. If you would like to contribute, please write a check to “NEW CITY FELLOWSHIP” with “WARD-CONGO” in the memo and send it to New City Fellowship, 1142 Hodiamont, St Louis MO 63112.