A Loving Sister to Refugee Churches
Have you ever heard of the name ‘Kanisa Ndugu’? Maybe not. Well, the term is Swahili and it translates to ‘Sister Church’. Setting up a church in a foreign country, especially when one is a refugee, can be a hard assignment. Many refugees lack the financial muscle, material and even moral support to plant churches or run those already established. Worse still, since most refugees are confined to their camps with restricted freedom of movement, seeking the necessary external assistance to support their spiritual development is at times close to impossible.
Refugees in Dzaleka camp face the same predicament. As There is Hope, we have always strived at promoting church work by upholding the spiritual welfare of refugee churches in the camp. Gradually, our desire to support these churches bred Kanisa Ndugu. There is Hope in collaboration with First Covenant Church from USA and International Association for Refugees (IAFR), developed the concept of Kanisa Ndugu to enhance church development within the Dzaleka community. Through this concept, we provide moral, financial as well as spiritual encouragement to Emmanuel Full Gospel (EFG) and Pentecostal Community (PCC) churches in the camp.
The help we provide does not only reach out to the churches in general, it also trickles down to their individual leaders. Senior Pastor Mwungura Augustine from PCC bears witness to this. He has been attending spiritual seminars organised through Kanisa Ndugu. He explained that these seminars offered him a deeper insight into spiritual growth.
“I have gained valuable leadership skills through these seminars.” He said. “I lead my church with determination because I am more mature than ever. The knowledge I got has increased my experience in church leadership and counselling.” This is not the only fruit that PCC has reaped. Kanisa Ndugu purchased bicycles for their pastors to ease their transportation when ministering in remote areas. The partnership also sponsored the procurement of a diesel maize mill for the church. The mill assisted them in meeting some of the monetary needs of their ministry. When PCC was constructing a church branch four years ago, we bought them iron sheets and provided chairs for the building.
Senior Pastor Augustine pointed out that besides financial support, the partnership introduced them to individuals who have always stood by them as refugees.
“As refugees, there are times we feel isolated and abandoned.” He revealed. “Kanisa Ndugu gives us reassurance in such times of doubt.”
A similar story can be told of EFG. Their main church was small and could only accommodate a small number of people. Every Sunday a large part of the congregation stayed out and followed the sermons by peeping through the windows and doors. This discouraged even more members from attending services. Kanisa Ndugu helped Emmanuel Church with financial aid to extend the church building. The church also runs an education sponsorship programme for refugee orphans in the camp. The programme experienced serious lack of funds which led to some orphans being dropped from the scholarships. Kanisa Ndugu once again rushed to their rescue, sponsored the orphans and put them back in school.
“Kanisa Ndugu is assisting us quite a lot in many things.” Explained Senior Pastor Olivier Mzaliwa from EFG. “We share the heavy burden that we, as refugee churches, carry around. It helps us get back to our feet by encouraging us spiritually and physically.” He noted that one of the most significant knowledge he attained from the partnership is church administration. Like his fellow pastor Augustine from PCC, Senior Pastor Mzaliwa has been regularly attending the pastors’ seminars organised through the Kanisa Ndugu partnership.
“It is very difficult to run a church when you have no experience in church administration.” He acknowledged “The seminars I attended gave me new skills, for example on how to properly serve the church, and strengthened my ability to spread God’s word.”
The story will not end with PCC and EFG. We plan to extend the project to more refugee churches within Dzaleka and outside in order to develop their work.