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Reaching Their Neighbors

MAF and a mission training center are partnering to make disciples in remote villages

By Jennifer Wolf

In the Kango region, in northeastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), the Dingila airstrip had been in disrepair and unusable for several years.

The local church had done some work on it, and the CECA 20 denomination saw the value in reopening it. This would allow Mission Aviation Fellowship (MAF) to serve Dingila and would shorten the travel time of missionaries working with the Kango people.

MAF pilot Dominic Villeneuve serving in Bunia, Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). Photo by Lemuel Malabuyo.

MAF needed to assess the airstrip to determine if it was ready for use. MAF pilot Dominic Villeneuve was invited to travel with CECA 20 missionaries to the Kango area.

“I jumped at the opportunity to see the kingdom work they were doing and to evaluate the runway,” Dominic said. 

Collaboration is key

Pastor Lule Djamba Charles, director of missions and evangelism for the CECA 20 church, realized it would be difficult for a few evangelists to work with all the churches in northeastern Congo. It would be more fruitful to train local believers who could return and make disciples in their own communities and beyond. This is his vision for the school he leads.

His team is identifying and recruiting missionary candidates to attend the Christian Training Center for Evangelism and Holistic Missions (CCFEMI), operated by CECA 20 in Bunia.

Pastor Lule in the CECA 20 office in Bunia, DRC. Photo by Lemuel Malabuyo.

“When we train them, it’s with the aim of helping the Church,” Lule said. “How can the Church itself evangelize? From the ground up. This is our mission.”

After completing two months of classes, students do a month-long mission internship in an unreached or poorly reached place. As a result of these trips, many people have chosen to follow Christ, and churches have been planted among the Mundu, Mamvu, Kango, and Barambo people. 

To accomplish this takes a strong partnership with MAF, who transports candidates from all over northeastern DRC to Bunia for the training, out to remote areas for the internship, and then back home again.

“This is really the work of MAF, too. It’s a collaborative effort,” Lule said.

MAF flights bring the mission teams closer to the target areas. Then the teams travel onto their final destinations by motorcycle, foot, and canoe.

“MAF’s material support has provided us with four motorcycles,” Lule added. “It’s a testament to their involvement.

“So MAF is helping us in the sense of transport and financial support … MAF is also physically committed,” he says, referring to Dominic’s willingness to spend two weeks with his team and some of the CCFEMI graduates.

One pilot’s adventure

Dominic was ready. MAF flew the CECA 20 team and Dominic to Dakwa, where they spent several days working with established churches along the main road through the jungle. They did evangelism workshops, women’s ministry training, and led Bible studies. Then, it was time to head deep into the forest to the Kango people—a fishing community who live along the Uélé River. 

The muddy “road” through the jungle. Photo by Dominic Villeneuve.

Dominic and the missionaries departed on motorcycles and spent an entire day bouncing through deep mud and ruts, breaking down twice along the way. The next day they hiked nearly seven miles in thick forest, finally reaching the Kango village of Ezabisi. CECA 20 graduates had shared the gospel in Ezabisi and planted a church back in 2021.

CECA 20 missionaries lead a worship procession in a Kango village. Photo by Dominic Villeneuve.

The Kango people are extremely isolated. They lack schools and medical care. But their biggest problem is spiritual. Ancestor worship, animism, and syncretism are the norm.

In Ezabisi, that is changing. People are hungry for the light of Christ. On Sunday, the whole village showed up for the church service with the CECA 20 team.

“Everyone was worshipping and just really invested,” Dominic said. “At least half a dozen people responded to the altar call, which was really encouraging.”

From Ezabisi, Dominic and the team traveled by canoes to locate an unreached village called Ebata. Photo courtesy of CECA 20.
In Ebata, the people heard the gospel for the first time. “We were the very first missionaries to ever get to enter the village, which was really cool to be a part of that.” Dominic said. Photo by Dominic Villeneuve.

Coming closer

During the trip, Dominic evaluated the nearby Dingila airstrip, and he saw a few things that needed to be addressed. While it would take some intense work, the airstrip could be ready in time for their return trip!

“About a dozen people worked tirelessly for two days, clearing hundreds of termite mounds, filling holes, and cutting down about 15 trees, many large bushes, and two bamboo groves,” Dominic said.

The Dingila airstrip. Photo by Dominic Villeneuve.

The workers’ faces beamed with pride when the MAF airplane landed there. The pilot disembarked and said, “Man, this is a nice strip!”

He had first landed at Dakwa to drop off supplies before flying on to Dingila. The trip had taken him just 10 minutes! It took the CECA 20 team two days to cover that same distance on the ground.

MAF lands at Dingila to pick up the CECA 20 missionaries and Dominic. Photo by MAF pilot Cory Woodsum.

“It was a huge reminder of the importance of this air travel,” Dominic said. “And now the community has a connection to the outside world.”

A big vision

Pastor Lule wants to send more CCFEMI-trained missionaries to under-reached areas and hopes they will return home to mobilize their home churches. Graduates have even led a condensed version of the training program at a local church near the Kango. Twenty students were trained, including a young Kango man.

Lule plans to recruit more candidates and, with the help of MAF, bring them to the center for training. His vision is a big one: to see people working for Christ throughout the DRC and beyond.

“Little by little, the bird makes its nest. So little by little, it’s going to get bigger,” Lule said. “We begin something very small and with the Lord’s help, we know it’s always going to go on.”

This story ran in the November 2023 (Vol. 4) issue of FlightWatch. Read the entire issue here:


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