Camp in Congo helps kids grow in their faith

Children dance the Congolese rumba during the closing ceremony for a two-week United Methodist summer camp in Bukavu, Congo, intended to help strengthen their faith. Photo by Philippe Kituka Lolonga.
Children dance the Congolese rumba during the closing ceremony for a two-week United Methodist summer camp in Bukavu, Congo, intended to help strengthen their faith. Photo by Philippe Kituka Lolonga.

After 6-year-old Raisa Muzungu memorized and recited in public the names of all 66 books of the Bible, the Kivu youth coordinator was so impressed that he promised to pay the child’s school fees for the 2018-19 academic year.

Muzungu learned the biblical names as a participant in a two-week summer camp organized by Young United Methodists of Kivu. Children, ages 6 to 12, grew in their Christian faith and in relationships with their peers. In the Democratic Republic of the Congo, primary and secondary students — like children and youth in the United States — have a summer break before resuming classes in September.

“It is a good time that we have just spent with these children,” said Christian Shabani, children’s monitor in Bukavu. “We gave these children Bible teachings, the story of The United Methodist Church, the story of Youth for Christ in Congo and in the world (and) initiation to scouting.” Participants also learned about theater, poetry and African culture.

Children perform a skit during a United Methodist summer camp in Bukavu, Congo. Photo by Philippe Kituka Lolonga. 

Children perform a skit during a United Methodist summer camp in Bukavu, Congo. Photo by Philippe Kituka Lolonga, UMNS.

One of the mothers expressed her appreciation for the ministry. “It allows our children to find an occupation during this holiday period,” Mbilizi Bonane said.

Alexandre Muzungu, a lay member of Ibanda United Methodist Church in Bukavu, said the experience allowed his two children to adapt to another environment and develop intellectually, morally and culturally.

Damas Lushima, coordinator of Kivu youth, said the camp offered more than teaching and coaching. “We have also supervised these young children culturally by introducing them to the Congolese rumba dance,” Lushima said.

Girls are introduced to fashion and makeup during the camp. Photo by Philippe Kituka Lolonga. 

Girls are introduced to fashion and makeup during the camp. Photo by Philippe Kituka Lolonga, UMNS.

Eastern Congo Area Bishop Gabriel Yemba Unda praised the camp, too.

“These youth activities, encourage other young people in the area to follow suit as it is a good way to prepare our children,” the bishop said.

As the camp drew to a close, Lushima said, “This kind of activity is a way to discover the … gifts of these children because we had to organize a cultural evening where (they) presented some talents in music and dance.”

Kituka Lolonga is a communicator in the Kivu Conference.

News media contact: Vicki Brown at (615) 742-5470 or newsdesk@umcom.org. To read more United Methodist news, subscribe to the free Daily or Weekly Digests.

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