congoPopulation: 55,000,000
Christian 95%, African Traditional 2.5%, Muslim 1%
(evangelicals 19%)


General Conference

 

  • Organized Free Methodist Churches: 727
  • FMC Membership: 146,459
  • Ordained Ministers: 554
  • Ministerial Candidates: 229
  • Bishop: Joshua Luhe’ya W’Elongo

 

Origins
In 1963, 7000 Christians of the Bembe tribe voted to join the Free Methodist Church. The missionary group that had been working among them had withdrawn three years earlier when independence in the country brought upheaval. Two Free Methodist missionary couples then moved to the Democratic Republic of Congo, but were forced to leave after a few months because of renewed political problems. 1964 to 1966 was a time of starvation and terror. Three thousand Free Methodist members were killed or reported missing. In the 1970s, with some return to political stability, missionaries and VISA workers returned and established residency.

Numerous Free Methodist schools were established throughout the conference on both elementary and high school levels. A hospital was built at Nundu near Lake Tanganyika. A rural health network was established, expanding to include 38 health centers. Workers trained at the hospital nursing school staffed many of these health centres.

In 1989 DRC became a Provisional General Conference electing Reverend Jason Bya’Ene as bishop. It became a full General Conference in 1995. In September 1991, as the economy collapsed and the country became politically unstable, Free Methodist missionaries were withdrawn. One missionary returned in 1994 and was joined by two couples in 1996 only to evacuate several months later as ethnic tensions increased and turned into full-scale war. Thousands of Free Methodist families fled to neighboring Tanzania or were displaced within the country.

Present Ministries
Although war has ravaged eastern Congo since 1996, the Free Methodist Church continues to minister over a large area comprised of 38 different tribes, using many different languages. Original choir compositions and fervent preaching characterize services. Much of the work is rural, but there are also churches in six provincial capital cities, as well as in Kinshasa, the nation’s capital. In 2003 Reverend Joshua W’Elongo was elected bishop.

 

The medical work has been increasingly compromised, but essential urgent care is provided by those nurses who remain in this war zone. In spite of the many difficulties of recent years, two new health centers have been constructed.

 

The church is suffering yet triumphant and growing. The Free Methodist Church in the Democratic Republic of Congo is the largest General Conference in the world.

 

Canadian Involvement
Canadian missionary Linda Stryker serves in providing liaison services for International Childcare, medical facilities and humanitarian aid.

 

Country Ministry Canadian Dollars *
Missionary Support (Linda Stryker) $44,711*

 

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