Several years ago, Westside Community Church in Morden, Man. chose the Democratic Republic of Congo as their church mission focus. The country had been devastated by ten years of civil strife and its people felt abandoned by the world.
Murray Nickel of MB Mission Service International visited Westside and encouraged the congregation to build relationships with the Congolese. He was particularly concerned to provide support for an enterprising agronomist, Edgard Kimbau. Edgard had been going on foot from village to village, providing seeds and training to people.
Westside gave financial assistance, then sent Dennis and Gloria Hoeppner to Congo in 2006 to see this work of hope. Over the next year, the ministry of Edgard and his team expanded through the church’s support. Donations provided a motorcycle for Edgard, sewing machines for a renewed women’s training ministry, 430 books for an agricultural reference library, and two farms.
Westside was now totally committed to partner in this work. People from the congregation visited again in following years. They felt the ongoing hardships experienced by the Congolese, but also their unabashed joy and hospitality.
For Randy Warkentin, the partnership became a personal challenge. Already a seasoned marathoner and triathlete, Warkentin vowed to raise money and awareness for Congo by running the Boston Marathon. More than $20,000 was raised, and the agricultural association was able to acquire a sturdy, good-sized building in Kikwit.
This year the church donated $10,000, including $3,000 from Kroeker Farms, and five people went for a visit.
When the team returned, they brought back an inspiring report of how much difference one year can make. They had eaten peanuts from the first crop on land purchased with money from Warkentin’s Run for the Congo. Where there had once been despair and hunger, they now sensed hope.