Musings From the Road
Happy New Year! Below are 2022 updates from our FPM family:
Rev. Joseph Mulongo spent most of 2022 stateside as a full-time student at United Theological Seminary in Ohio. When he is not studying or serving in a de facto associate pastor role at Grace UMC in Franklin, Indiana, he is remotely directing the El Dorado Nursing School in Mulongo and other FPM-funded initiatives as well as building/strengthening friendships between Indiana/ Ohio and North Katanga.
One of Joseph’s many recent accomplishments was to set up the nursing school with a RACHEL offline digital library server, giving students and faculty access to thousands of textbooks in French and English. Bishop Mande reports that government representatives were amazed upon their recent visit to the school to find a superbly managed high-tech nursing school in such a remote location! Another important initiative made possible by Joseph’s time in the USA was in the area of water purification. Having completed a training program in Kentucky with WaterStep, Joseph spent this past winter break training the board of the nursing school new accessible methods for creating safe drinking water and how to navigate the RACHEL library.
Rev. Daniel Mumba, FPM’s Congo-based treasurer (and North Katanga Conference’s general treasurer), stepped up in 2022 as our lead financial oversight person, a big job with Joseph’s temporary absence.
Rev. Dr. Taylor Denyer and Dr. Kate Koppy (editor on Biking Bob’s first book), with the contributions of Joseph, Daniel, Jacky, Shabana, and others, collaborated to finish and publish Bob’s final book, Pastors, Chiefs, and Warlords: The Ministry of Being With through Wipf&Stock. It is now available through all major booksellers.
For those who have read Bob’s books, you’ll be interested to know that Shabana Banza is now on the ordination track and is studying at a seminary in Osijek, Croatia. His dream is to help lead the pastor training initiatives in Tanganyika upon his return. Rev. Jacky Mwayuma is also doing well, and she sends her love and greetings from Tanganyika.
As for Taylor, she and her family moved mid-summer to New Delhi, India. She has been getting to know the Methodist community there while continuing to write, preach, teach online grad and doctoral-level courses, and work remotely as Bishop Mande’s Gal Friday.
Although Rev. Lana Robyne's stint as a full-time volunteer in Congo has ended (she is now back serving in the Illinois-Great Rivers Conference), she continues to work on raising funds for the theological training school the Tanganyika Conference dreams of launching.
With Taylor and Mumba wearing double appointment hats (FPM and North Katanga Area office), much of our fundraising work now involves grants and grassroots fundraising in Congo that are sent via the bishop’s office. This has taken some pressure off the fundraising side of FPM and allowed us to focus on teaching as well as step more into a bridge/safety net role. When, for example, North Katanga pastors are awarded scholarships to Africa University that don’t cover the full costs of a being a student, instead of them watching that dream slip through their fingers, FPM steps in with supplemental scholarships for bus fare, money for food and soap, and other essentials. When a tragedy strikes at the conference children’s home or to a church leader (sadly there were two cases of serious motorcycle accidents this past winter), FPM has been able to step in when the conference account was tapped out.
Speaking of the youth at the Kamina Children’s Home, they aren’t children anymore. We now have fifteen in community colleges and vocational programs and four recent college graduates in job search mode. As the flow of donations to their designated account are unpredictable and never enough to cover all the needs, FPM continues to frequently step in to pay school fees, purchase equipment, and quickly provide emergency loans from our undesignated funds, as promised contributions from partner conferences can take many weeks to arrive.
Once again, on behalf of the entire FPM family: Thank you for being our friend.