Saturday, October 24, 2009

Mumena Trip - Meheba Refugee Camp

On Saturday we drove to the Meheba Refugee Camp to worship with the Congolese congregation. Meheba is the largest refugee camp in the world in terms of size and was once the largest in population as well. The chaos in the Congo during the 60s sent refugees streaming across the nearby border and prompted the area’s chief to offer the land to the United Nations for the establishment of the camp. Later, refugees from Angola arrived, and during the war-torn years of that conflict the population of Meheba swelled to over 150,000.

Organizers attempted to form stable communities for the refugees, settling them together with people from their own country and area who shared the same language and similar customs. The UN provided housing materials, land, and seed for each family with the expectation that the family would be self-sufficient within two years. Clinics and schools provided health and education services, and the Meheba camp became home to a generation of children who were born there or cannot remember their homeland.

The Road 68 congregation of Congolese refugees was formed because Namwianga sent Leonard Mujala to work with the people in the camp. Leonard has a gift for languages and was able to communicate and teach effectively, planting new churches at several locations, including Road 68.

We spent a spirited four hours with the Congolese, who welcomed us warmly and led us in enthusiastic singing and praise. Ross Cochran and Derek Molina preached, as well as one of the Congolese church leaders.

The congregation fed us a wonderful lunch of goat, chicken, and rice. We were humbled when Brian Davis told us about the sacrifices that were made for that meal. Brian and Sondra drove to Meheba the Saturday before we came to make the final arrangements, but found none of the members at their homes. They investigated and found that the church members were all out hoeing fields to earn money to buy a goat and chickens for our lunch.

This truly was a love feast.

1 comment:

Marybeth McCown said...

I enjoyed the graduation conga line and the vivid memories of witnessing that a couple year ago, too. The power of rhythmic music to express celebration was no better display for me than then. Better than 'pomp and circumstance'!