Great News! FPM co-founder, the Rev. Dr. "Biking Bob" Walters' book, The Last Missionary, has joined the Wipf and Stock Publishers' family in its reprint division. Copies can now be ordered directly through Wipf and Stock
About The Last Missionary
The Last Missionary is a bicycle adventure story set in remote districts in eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo. Bob Walters travels with a team of Congolese colleagues discovering the state of the villages run over by the Pan-African war that devastated the region’s people through the terror of rape and the killing of millions.
Along the way, Bob offers the reader a number of short tutorials and reflections on missiology, the study of mission systems. He ponders patronage and cargo cults, and asks the question, “Is Jesus the answer?” But this is not an answer book, it is a book in search of better questions.
The Last Missionary is a challenge to both evangelicals and progressives in the church, missionaries and mission volunteers, and even non-religious aid workers.
FPM is proud to announce that the doctoral thesis of FPM's head of missiological training, the Rev. Dr. Taylor Denyer, has been published in the American Society of Missiology's monograph series. This work, Decolonizing Mission Partnerships, looks deeply at the evolving relational dynamics between United Methodists in North Katanga and the USA and sets up a multifaceted conceptual framework through which one can analyze other missional collaborations in postcolonial contexts.
The Rev. Dr. Mande Muyombo, United Methodist Bishop over the North Katanga Episcopal Area, writes "Decolonizing Mission Partnerships is a book that should lead us into redefining what it means to be a church engaged in God's mission. Structures and systems that support mission are called to reevaluate themselves through the lenses of the perspective and experiences that Rev. Denyer presents to us. I appeal local churches to reflect on the book."
Printed copies can be ordered directly via Wipf and Stock (for the publisher's discounted price) or from a number of major booksellers. For those on a budget, there is a Kindle version for just $10.
We are sad to report that our beloved FPM boat, The Indiana, was busted beyond repair in a storm. She saved countless lives over her many years of service, acting as a mobile clinic and ambulance transporting medicines, medical professionals, and patients to towns and villages along the river (especially during cholera outbreaks), delivering construction materials to numerous clinics and congregations, and offering clergy and lay leaders safe and affordable transport to annual conference and other important gatherings.
While she is gone, the need for sturdy and well-managed riverboats in the Tanganyika and North Katanga Conferences (DR Congo) continues. Please consider helping FPM buy a new boat by making a financial contribution and/or spreading the word. By salvaging what we still can from The Indiana, we are looking at around a $4,000 project.
My name is Mbuyu wa mbuyu Claudia, and I am an orphan who was raised in the United Methodist Church’s Children’s Home in Kamina, DR Congo. FPM means everything to me; it has changed my life, and I want to testify to some of the ways FPM has been there for me.
It was 2014 when I first went to Zimbabwe to study at Africa University. While I had a scholarship that covered my tuition and board, I did not have enough money to buy a computer to write my papers, proper clothing for the climate, or even laundry soap. This is where FPM stepped in, even sending money for transportation and food so I could spend the long holidays back home in Congo. Because of FPM, I was even forgetting that I was an orphan because they treated me as their son.
FPM has given me a life I had not even dreamt for myself. I now have so many friends from far away from Congo. I made friends my own age from the USA on FPM’s Friendship Tour from Lubumbashi to Mulongo. We traveled around 600 kilometers together by bicycle, and it was the best adventure I’d had in all my life. I love going on these FPM bike adventures: I’ve been on two FPM trips from Lubumbashi to Mulongo as well as from Lubumbashi to Kamina.
[FPM co-founder] Bob Walters was preparing a good life for me—he gave the world to me, and unfortunately, he left us too soon. May he rest in eternal peace. Today his daughter, Maman Taylor, is doing the same thing. This year I graduated from Africa University, and my FPM family is continuing to be there for me as I find my place in society. I thank God for that and say thank you to the leaders of FPM, especially Rev. Bob Walters’ family: Rev. Maman Taylor and Maman Teri; Pastor Lana and her family; Pastor Mulongo and family; Pastor Maloba and family, and Bishop Mande and family for your support in every way. May the God of orphans and widows be with you and your families always.
FPM is excited to announce that, in partnership with The United Methodist Church's Illinois Great Rivers Conference and the North Katanga-Tanganyika-Tanzania Episcopal Area, our longtime board member, Rev. Lana Robyne, has been appointed as a full-time missiologist to the Tanganyika Conference effective July 1, 2020.
Once the Covid-19 travel restrictions have been lifted, Pastor Lana will move to Kalemie, DR Congo. Her primary task will be developing and directing mission evaluation and discernment initiatives focused on and with the Tanganyika Conference. She will be meeting with congregations to study and evaluate missional capacity and needs, praying, preaching, coaching, leading workshops, researching, fundraising, and coordinating mission education and projects. This initiative will work closely with the Tanganyika Conference’s Director of Connectional Ministries, Evangelism Department, Development Department, Kipendano (UMW), JPC (Youth and Young Adults), and scouting ministries. Her appointment will include significant time itinerating in the United States as well as DRC.
Pastor Lana was ordained an elder in 2001 and has been on loan to the Indiana Conference for the past 18 years. She has served as Co-Director of Wesley Foundation Campus Ministry at Purdue since 2002 and, for the last 14 years, also as Pastor of Spiritual Formation and Campus Ministry at First UMC in West Lafayette. In 2006, she was a visiting chaplain and lecturer at Africa University. Before that, she served small churches in Illinois.
Pastor Lana has two adult children, Isaiah and Ella. She has an M.Div. and Master of Theology from Christian Theological Seminary. This August, she will be receiving an MA in History from Purdue, where she researched colonial mission and human rights history in Congo.
We ask that you hold Pastor Lana in your prayers. This is a huge leap of faith for her, especially since this ministry does not come with a guaranteed salary. She is trusting that God will help her find creative ways to financially support her work. If you feel called to donate or organize a fundraiser for this ministry, please let us know. Tax deductible contributions earmarked "Lana" can be made through Friendly Planet Missiology.
2019 was fruitful year for FPM as even more dreams became realities. Below are some of things we accomplished thanks to your support.
FPM sponsored two friendship tours in 2019. On the Indiana tour, Pastors Lana, Joseph, Mumba, and Jackie as well as Papa Londwa traveled around the state visiting old friends, making new friends, and sharing with folks about the ministries of church leaders in the Tanganyika Conference and the challenges they face. (for more about this click here )
The second tour was a joint educational friendship-focused program of FPM and Purdue University’s Wesley Foundation. On this tour, young adults from the USA, Africa University students and graduates, as well as FPM leaders in Congo went on an epic road trip together. The voyage began at The UMC’s Africa U. in Zimbabwe, then down by bus to Victoria Falls, up by public busses through Zambia up to The UMC’s Mulungwishi University in Congo, and finally all the way up to Kamina by bicycle (more on their itinerary here). In addition to building new friendships, the tour functioned as a traveling missiology classroom. Participants read Biking Bob’s book (including excerpts from the not-yet-published sequel) and had challenging conversations about healthy ways to build friendships that cross socio-economic and cultural boundaries. One participant’s reflections can be found here.
Spreading Missiological Education
Taylor completed her DTh in Missiology, and her thesis, Decolonizing Mission Partnerships was selected by the American Society of Missiology to be published in its monograph series. The book is scheduled to come out in late 2020 and will become one of the core textbooks for FPM’s curriculum. As FPM’s lead coach, Taylor gave a number of keynotes, workshops, papers, and university guest lectures on the topic on rethinking understandings of mission as well as exploring and addressing the impact of racism on us all. Her teaching ministry took her to events on three continents. In addition, she taught the spring Course of Study on Mission at Wesley Theological Seminary, using a curriculum she has been developing for FPM.
Grants, Scholarships, and Construction Support
FPM continues to help connect important ministries in North Katanga and Tanganyika with folks with the financial means to support them. Some of the programs your contributions supported in 2019 were:
2020 is looking to be another great year. Our core leadership team has expanded and is more active than ever before, and together we are dreaming and discerning where the Spirit is leading us next.
Originally published in the Fall 2019 newsletter of the Baptist Student Foundation at Purdue University.
This trip involved traveling by bus and bicycle through Zimbabwe, Zambia, and into the Katanga region of DR Congo.
By Elizabeth Marie Sowinski
The Zulu word “Ubuntu” is used to describe the interconnectedness of mankind. It roughly translates “I am because we are.” Among many devoted Methodists whom we encountered in Africa, ubuntu is a way of life. They live and breathe to serve their communities, prioritizing them second only to their Creator. We can learn much from people like these, but I would like to emphasize three lessons.
First, Westerners can learn a lot from their attitude toward trials in life. In my short month in Africa, we encountered countless challenges to our mission. They ranged from minor irritations to major obstacles. Despite all these troubles, a way always presented itself. Call it faith, endurance, or divine intervention; things always worked out in one way or another. In this, we had to learn to trust in our African friends, leaders, and our God. Often, if not most of the time, our situation was out of our hands. We regularly encountered times where there was nothing that we as American students could do to fix our problems. We simply had to trust in the people that guided us and the God we serve. This led to countless changes in our plans and moments of anxiety as we had to entrust our cash, passports, or even our safety into the hands of a “friend of a friend,” whom we had only just met. Nevertheless, they always maintained their integrity and made sure that we were safely delivered to the next step of our journey. Despite their poverty, our brothers and sisters always made sure that our needs were provided for. Their outpouring of generosity was humbling. The churches that we visited have very little money and few resources, but we were never in want. Their hospitality and kindness are truly astounding.
The second lesson that we can learn from our African brothers and sisters is that home is people. Home is not a place. Home is not an object. Home is not a feeling. Home is people. People who accept you, love you, and want you. This is how I traveled many kilometers across a foreign land without leaving home even once. As we journeyed from place to place, we met many new people. Often, we would only had the opportunity to spend a day or two with them. Nevertheless, we were welcomed with open hearts and open arms, as a long-lost family member coming home. In a way, we were family, united under the Methodist cross and flames and, ultimately, under our Father and Savior. In each new location, we entered a communion with our brothers and sisters in Christ that truly made it our home.
The final lesson is by far the most frustrating, but also may be the most important. Most Christian leaders that we met on this trip are passionate, driven, and willing to do whatever it takes to save their communities. Furthermore, these people are already in place to make a difference as leaders in the church, local government, or even simply among their peers. As Westerners, we may have passion and an intense desire to “save” the innocent from the affliction that is poverty. To rescue children from hunger and disease. To end the suffering that comes from destitution. However, it is vital that we recognize that we quite literally cannot. We are not capable of fixing these problems for our friends. Westerners made this mess decades ago, and corrupt governments perpetuate it, but we Christians and servants on this side of the world do not have the ability to liberate our brothers and sisters from their trials, no matter how much we try. Rather, to truly help, we must humble ourselves, deny our hero complex that dominates so much of traditional missiology, and instead pour our efforts into supporting those who can make a difference in their own communities. In this way, and this way alone, can we help bring about deep systemic change. As much as we would like to step in and “fix” the situation, we are simply too far removed from the source of the problem. We are not in a proper place to affect lasting change, and any attempts to muscle in and do so will ultimately fail, if not cause even greater damage. There are several great dangers in that approach.
First, it establishes a system based in patronage that creates a dependency on wealthy Westerners. It handicaps local leadership by implicitly attempting to convince them that their efforts are not enough, that they cannot make a difference by themselves, and that they require the generosity of a rich white person to do effective work. That is a toxic mindset and can be extremely damaging in the long term. It is also the greatest downfall of traditional missiology. Second, when Westerners try to resolve uniquely African complications on their own, they inevitably impose their own Western culture on the victims of their “aid.” African culture is already rich, deep, and plentiful. They do not need our ideology trampling on their way of life. This can lead to several societal complications, including a chance of instilling into Africans the idea that they should attempt to mimic Western doctrine. Western culture does not necessarily mesh well into African culture, and while both are valid and important, Western dogma will not resolve African problems.
So then, what can we do to help our Christian brothers and sisters who suffer in poverty? The answer is that we support them as they resolve their own situation. This can manifest in many ways, and it can be difficult to distinguish between supporting local leadership and endorsing patronage. Further, it is challenging to relinquish control and trust our African friends and colleagues to develop their own ideas and use their own methods, despite their lack of resources. Personally, I feel a sense of helplessness when I am unable to bring aid to a loved one. This tempts me to feel hopeless about their destitute condition. However, this I know: the need is great, but the passion and devotion of many Christian leaders is greater. These people are in place to help; we are not. They are in a position where they can do far more good than we could even hope to accomplish. Western culture emphasizes individualism and independence. Because of this, we often feel the need to fix things on our own. We will assist another person because of our own desire to feel good about ourselves. Looking deeper, you can see that this is rooted in a sense of pride, intertwined with hopes of heroism and moral superiority. This is not servanthood. In order to see widespread, systemic change, we must lay aside our ego, humble ourselves, shut up, and listen. Stop the advice, stop the missions, stop imposing, and listen. The people of Africa have spent their entire lives dealing with the crises that we have only just begun to see. They know the inside, outside, upside, and downside of their situations, and only they know what needs to be done. If we can lower ourselves and uplift the locals, if we can support their ideas and projects, and if we finally acknowledge that we are not the heroes but rather a part of a team and family, I believe that together, the body of Christ will be unstoppable in our calling to love and serve one another in unity, hope, and peace.
TO TRULY HELP, WE MUST HUMBLE OURSELVES, DENY OUR HERO COMPLEX THAT DOMINATES SO MUCH OF TRADITIONAL MISSIOLOGY, AND INSTEAD POUR OUR EFFORTS INTO SUPPORTING THOSE WHO CAN MAKE A DIFFERENCE IN THEIR OWN COMMUNITIES.
Encounter Africa 2019
sponsored by Wesley Foundation United Methodist Campus Ministry at Purdue, the Found (American Baptists) of Purdue, and Friendly Planet Missiology (FPM)
They made it to Kamina!
I had a nice long face-time with Glen tonight. Everyone is doing very well and glad to have reached Kamina. Hopefully we'll see some pictures of them soon, but in the meantime, enjoy some from my visit to Kamina with Taylor and Teri last year.
It took them two days to get to Kamina from Bukama on the Congo River. They had a tough couple of days bicycling, getting stuck in the deep, loose sands of the road. They struggled for about 30 km today before they had to pack up the bicycles to drive most of the rest of the way with their 3 sag vehicles. Even then, it was a long, difficult drive. They hoped to get back on the bikes for the last few kilometers with the Boy Scouts riding out to meet them and escort them into town. However, they ended up having to drive the whole way.
I spent time in Kamina last year with my son Isaiah, Taylor and Teri Walters. I have included a link here for those who want to see general pictures of this city or Annual Conference.
The group is staying in a nice guest house in Kamina built by retired Bishop Ntambo. It has electricity (generator), wifi, and satellite tv. They are glad to have made it to their final stop today (Friday).
This is where they will rest for several days before most of them fly back to Lubumbashi and home. Kenny will be staying to volunteer at the orphanage in Kamina. He'll get to experience Annual Conference there.
Maps of Thursday and Friday Route
Purpose of an "Encounter" Trip:
To encounter or meet new people and build relationships with our siblings in Christ in Africa, to listen to their stories and learn from them, to work with them on projects that enhance their lives, to know as fully as possible the African context so that each in our own way we can be a force for positive change. Students will explore their vocational call from God and learn in their field of academic focus as they make connections with people in Africa in their field.
Want more information?
Contact Pastor Lana Robyne email@example.com
Revised Africa 2019 Itinerary
5/27 Depart Chicago 9:30 pm,didn't go as planned
5/28 Depart DC Dulles: 11:00am didn't go as planned
5/29 Kelden and Ave arrive Harare: -- Meet Diana and other med students, stay at AU alum Esther's home. Others fly in and stay in Addis Ababa and Johannesburg.
5/30 Fly into Harare. Regroup.
5/31 Bus to Mutare and Africa University (AU), Mae stay at Mutare Teacher’s College (MTC). ran out of time for Hilltop UMC Ishe Anesu After School Ministry.
6/1 Tour AU farm, climb to the cross, basketball, choir practice.
6/2 Worship in the AU Chapel, visit Fairfield Children's Home, hike up Mt. Chiremba, go to choir practice.
6/3-6/5 stay and help out at AU campus, Old Mutare Mission Station, Hartzell School, practice with choir, do laundry.
6/5 Depart after chapel - Day back at Mutare Teachers’ College and/or Hilltop UMC
6/6 Depart AU by private bus (Batoko Safaris) -- Travel to Great Zimbabwe (greatest archeological site south of the pyramids)
6/7 Travel to Bulawayo or Matopos Hills (Matobo National Park)
6/8 Travel to Hwange National Park (sunset and sunrise game drives)
6/9 Travel to Victoria Falls (two nights: tour falls, Bomo, elephant back safari, bungee/zip line options, sunset cruise)
6/11 Depart to Lusaka, Zambia (by public bus).. Night in Lusaka getting harassed by a police officer.
6/12 Travel to Kitwe: Stay at New Life Center
6/13 Depart Kitwe by taxi to Kasumbalesa, on to Lubumbashi, DRC by Friendly Planet Missiology (FPM) vehicle
6/14 Day in Lubumbashi (buy provisions for bicycle tour and visit Methodist Bishop's Offices)
6/15 prepare and wait.
6/16 Travel to Mulungwishi University), Friendship Bicycle Tour begins w/ith joint US/Congolese team visiting and listening deeply with many congregations on the way.
6/17 the group will leave Mulungwishi and drive to Lubudi.
6/18 Lubudi to Luena = ride 75 kilometers. Ride includes a descent and about 6 kilometers of a little sand.
6/20 Luena to Kabondo = ride 100 kilometers. about 8 kilometers of a mountain climb.
6/21 Kabondo to Kamina = 100 kilometers with about 7 kilometers of loose sand.
6/22 Day in Kamina. Donate the Bicycles.
6/23 Day in Kamina.
6/24 Day in Kamina.
6/25 Fly back to Lubumbashi from end of the tour
6/26 Depart for USA
6/27 Return to USA
From Purdue +:
From University of Illinois (UIUC):
From Alabama Birmingham-Southern College:
Africa University Students and Grads traveling with us:
Joining Us in DRC/Congo:
WEBSITE | EMAIL
Purdue Wesley Foundation is a campus ministry for, by, and with students. We spread United Methodist values and practice of open-minds, open-hearts, open-doors, but ALL are welcome!
Wesley Foundation at Purdue | 435 W. State St., West Lafayette, IN 47906
The 2019 Indiana friendship tour is well underway! Despite 3 visa denials, 1 woman and 3 men from the North Katanga and Tanganyika Conferences were able to come be on this friendship-building adventure. They are all amazing people. Pastor Joseph Mulongo, Pastor Daniel Mumba, and Pastor Jackie Ngoy Mwayuma are all pastors and former DS's. All three of them are featured in our late co-founder's memoir The Last Missionary. Papa Londwa is the newest addition to the FPM team and serves the Lay Leader of the Tanganyika Conference.
We are visiting a wide variety of churches and mission centers today and over the next week. Yesterday we visited the Midwest Distribution Center and Lincoln sites in Springfield IL, had supper and worship at our beloved Urbana Wesley Church and Foundation, and got back to West Lafayette around midnight to sleep. We got to know the three students from UIUC are coming on our trip to DRC this summer!
Today we had lunch and amazing conversations with some of Jeff Newton's staff at Kokomo Urban Outreach, African-Americans who were meeting and talking deeply with Africans for the first time. They were excited about telling their "huddle" of kids about this tonight. We also had a tour and did a small service project to help with the food KUO sends home with kids each weekend. Now we are in Zanesville where we had supper, and Joseph and the entourage shared a program and answered questions.
Our friends have a presentation to share about the churches, missions, and struggles in Tanganyika Conference if you have a projector and screen. They want everyone to know how important the work of the United Methodist church is there and what hope it is bringing the Congolese.
We are all pretty exhausted from the 2019 General Conference, but we feel it is as important as ever to share stories, learn, build family and strengthen friendship and connections through Christ and his body.
Rev. Lana Robyne, FPM Board Member