Historical Overview of the SDA Church in Congo
Three Union in the D. R. of Congo with a Population of 70,000,000 and only 517,046 SDA Members
The Seventh Day Adventist work in the former Republic of Zaire, presently known as the Democratic Republic Congo, began in 1920 with Christopher Robinson and Gilbert Wilmore. The First Union Mission was organized in 1925 known as Zaire Union, with the Headquarters in Lubumbashi. Because the D. R. of Congo is the second largest country in Africa, another Union (West Congo Union Mission, WCUM) was organized by 1995 with its Headquarters located in Kinshasa the Capital City of the D. R of Congo. By 2003, a third entity, The North East Congo Attached Territory (NECAT) was born to serve the North Easter part of the Country; its Headquarters is located in Goma. The DR Congo has three Unions: East Congo Union Mission covering The Katanga and Maniema Provinces upervised from Lubumbashi; The West Congo Union Mission comprising the Equatorial, Bandundu, Bas Congo, Oriental and Occidental Kasai Provinces, supervised from Kinshasa; and The North East Congo Union Mission, covering the Oriental Province, the North and South Kivu Provinces, controlled by Goma. The South Kivu Field is part of North East Congo Union Mission. The three Unions in Congo have a membership of 517,046 and the country has a population of about 70,000,000 inhabitants.
The city of Bukavu is the Headquarter of The South Kivu Field (SKF) of Seventh Day Adventist church. The city was the Headquarters of the former Kivu province which was divided into three provinces: the North Kivu province, Maniema Province and the current South Kivu Province with Bukavu as the principle city. The city is situated at the Eastern board of the DRC and Rwanda. By the end of July 2010, the official statistical service of the South Kivu province reported that Bukavu had more than1, 000,000 inhabitants.
Bakivu, the prime focus of Bantu Hope Ministry, has 1,000,000 souls and only 400 SDA members!
In the beginning of the year 1969, the former Congo Union Mission, leading the work in the whole Democratic Republic of Congo by that time from Lubumbashi; sent a preacher M.Sofronack in Bukavu to conduct the first Evangelistic campaign in Bukavu. That first campaign took 62 days. He was assisted by some pastors from Kanyatsi Nyamitaba, the headquarters of East Zaire Field by then. Four of those pastors from Kanyatsi where M. Sebatunzi, G. Mukerezi, Mwangacucu and R. Ruterahagusha. No body was baptized at the end of the campaign. Habineza Rwanyenyeri Was called to continue with the work. By November 1969, Rwenyenyeri baptized eight new members at Nguba and twelve others at Bagira, two of the city quarters. He received funds from the Union and bought a house at Nyamugu, Kadutu, where he established the first Adventist Church in Bukavu with about 35 members. M. Birikunzira, an ordained Minister was called from Shabunda to lead the church in the city after Rwanyenyeri. Few years later, a station was organized and Rwanyenyeri was recalled to lead it. Once again, Rwanyenyeri left the leadership of the Bukavu church to Pastor T. Mugahushaka who took the leadership of the Station and it was during his leadership that the church was organized into a field in that region by 1988. That Field was known as the South Kivu Field, with Pastor Unen W. Upio as the First President. Records reveal that the membership was 15,961 for a population of 2,041,666. The membership grew up to 24, 679 members by the end of 2007 gathering in 148 organized churches. But, because of wars occurred in the region during the last decade, the membership decreased to 14,500 by the end of 2008. By God’s grace, the secretary’s report shows an increase to 17,187 members by March 2012 for a population of 4,500,000 inhabitants in the Province. But about ten churches where destroyed by rebels and some members have not appropriate places for worship.
Bukavu was selected by the Union among big cities to be reached by the program “Hope for Big Cities” in 2008. But because of wars and troubles, nothing has been done since then. With a population of 1,000,000 and only 400 Seventh Day Adventist believers regrouped into three churches in the city, Bukavu is still one of non entered big cities in the North East Congo Union Mission.
Reaching the huge population of this big cosmopolitan city with the gospel message is the prime focus of the Church supported by Bantu Hope Ministries. The 4.5 millions people living within the field territory are not forgotten by this outreach plan. The dream is to extend the support of Bantu Hope Ministries beyond the Limits of South Kivu in the next five years.
If the Holly Spirit is impressing you to support our effor to share the gospel in the D. R. of Congo, please take action now!