Congo-Kinshasa (MNN) — Last fall, the financial crisis in Democratic Republic of Congo crushed a ministry arm of Every Child Ministries.
For years, ECM has had two schools training believers in youth ministry in Congo. One school is in the capital city of Kinshasa, and another is further inland for more rural areas. ECM has always provided scholarships for students to attend, but transportation is up to each participant.
When school opened last fall, transportation costs were getting too steep for some students to handle. Within the first week of the program, students began dropping out because they couldn't afford to get there every day. By the second week, every single student had dropped out of the program. The school had no choice but to close.
It sounds like a devastating set-back, but ECM's Lorella Rouster says the closed door forced ECM staff to focus all of their attention on another ministry.
"The children of Congo have been receptive to the Gospel, immensely so, ever since we started working there many years ago. It's just that many of the churches have felt inadequately prepared to reach out to them," says Rouster.
As a result, ECM has a ministry to provide free training for churches who wish to have children's programs but don't know how to get started. Progress is generally slow in this arm, however, especially since ECM staff go from church to church on foot.
After the school was forced to close, the staff poured their attention into training churches. "As a result of that, since Fall–when our classes started and closed within two weeks at the training center–over 100 churches in Kinshasa have recently started reaching out to their own children and youth that did not have any youth ministry before," says Rouster.
The sheer number of staff has increased the speed at which this ministry has been able to reach churches. This will in turn reach thousands of children with the Gospel. The need for children's ministry is great, especially since youth under the age of 15 make up about half of the country's population. Children are ready to hear the Good News, and now they might just have the chance, too.
ECM is rejoicing over God's goodness in closing one door only to open another. The ministry is still evaluating whether or not it will be worth it to reopen the school next year, but for now, they are focusing on church training.
Pray that churches would be faithful to the commitments they have made to serve kids in Congo. Pray that they would be consistent in discipleship and weekly training of children in the Word.
ECM has several different types of ministries across Africa, including outreach to slaves and troubled women. Learn more about their ministry at their Web site.