AIM church celebrates 100 years in DRC

By December 7, 2012

DR Congo (MNN) — It's quite a milestone to celebrate 100 years of ministry. It's even more profound when a ministry celebrates 100 years of serving in a specific country. Africa Inland Mission recently did just that in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Phil Byler with AIM says missionaries from Kenya traveled across Lake Albert to begin the work. "On the west shore of Lake Albert in eastern Congo, they began evangelism and started a church. It later changed its name by the government to CECA 20, and that church is now celebrating its 100th anniversary."

This church wasn't stagnant. Byler says, "Some estimate they have grown to as many as three million members and well over 1,000 churches. So we had a fantastic weekend of celebration in the big city stadium."

According to Byler, the church in this region is now self-sustaining. "There's a growing movement of indigenous missions from within Africa to their own neighbors as well as all parts of the world, and the mission movement is shifting from North America to the South, including Africa."

30 to 40 years ago, AIM had as many as 80-100 missionaries in the country at any one time. Byler says that's changed. "They have their own pastors, church workers, youth leaders, evangelists, seminaries, schools and hospital — carrying on, multiplying, growing, with only minimal support from us."

Congo has been racked with political instability for decades, which makes this milestone even more incredible. Byler says these conflicts give the church a platform to share Christ. "People tend to look outside themselves for help. The church does attempt to make inroads with the Gospel as well relief aid at these times."

While much of the DR Congo is considered reached, Byler says there's still a huge need for training as animism is the predominate worldview.

USA Director of AIM Ted Barnett agrees. "Syncretism, spiritism, witchcraft and many other issues challenge the ability of pastors and church leaders to disciple and lead the church to spiritual maturity in Christ."

He adds, "The Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) has terrorized the populations in the northeast corner of Congo. This has a severe impact on the church's ability to function within the region. These years of LRA terror can be stopped by applying the finished work of Christ through prayer and utilizing the Sword of the Spirit, the Word of God, to this stronghold of the enemy."

Byler is asking you to continue praying for the church in the DR Congo, as well as areas considered to be unreached or considered to be a creative access nation. Pray for wisdom, boldness, and funding to continue their work.

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