by Phil Miller–
And to Think I Once Dreamed of Being a Missionary in the Congo
As a newcomer to Greensboro, I’m struck by the abundance of churches—both stunning and unimposing. It’s impossible to tell from the architecture and landscaping how much vitality may be found among the people who meet in each place. One place may be well endowed by the generosity of those who prospered in an earlier era, while another may place priority on service rather than on property.
Those of us who were born and brought up in mainstream American society assume we know what a “normal” church is. However, the church existed long, long before Christians came to North America. Churches in the Middle East, in Egypt and Turkey and South India have histories dating back to the apostles.
In another way, churches exist around the world as the result of the missionary work of European and American Christians in the 19th and early 20th centuries. You may already know that the Disciples of Christ in the Congo far outnumber the members of our denomination living in the United States and Canada.
Pastor Prince Mundeke immigrated from the Congo to Greensboro and has led El Shaddai Church for other African refugees and immigrants. His church rents space from Westminster Presbyterian Church. The El Shaddai choir, which has sung in our worship service previously, will offer our special music on Sunday, July 28th.
In addition to his congregation, which worships in the Swahili language, Pastor Prince has started a youth program and began renting our fellowship hall for its semi-monthly, Saturday evening programs. He feels deeply concerned that in seeking to assimilate into American culture, the African children should not drift toward gangs or unhealthy influences.
My wife Paula, who worked with new Congolese immigrants in Louisville two years ago, met with Pastor Prince to discuss his bold vision for helping African immigrants in Greensboro. I suppose we’ll find opportunities for service as we move toward a closer connection with the recently arrived African refugees. Merely to interact with these newcomers to our community can be an astonishing, eye-opening experience.