Partners in health and healing: conferences come together for DRC hospital upgrades
By George Howard
June 2020 | ATLANTA
What was once a dream is now a reality.
Lupandilo Hospital in Kamina, Democratic Republic of Congo, is filled with new beds, supplies and equipment. Doctors and nurses have the tools they need for the ministry to which they have been called and trained. Babies are delivered, surgeries are performed and patients are diagnosed and treated for a wide variety of illnesses.
Bishop Mande Muyombo of the North Katanga Annual Conference of the North Katanga Episcopal Area, with the support of Global Ministries’ Global Health unit, completed the construction of the hospital in September 2019. The dream began with the late Bishop Wakadilo in the 1980s.
The North Katanga Annual Conference and the North Texas Annual Conference are exploring a partnership in mission, a relationship facilitated through Global Ministries. A team from Texas visited the Democratic Republic of Congo in March of this year to witness firsthand the progress made on the hospital.
The Rev. Rachel Baughman, a clergy member of the North Texas Conference, was invited into the delivery room to observe the birth of a baby during a tour of the hospital. She noticed a new incubator for premature babies. Then she discovered that, while several new pieces of medical equipment had been delivered, the equipment was sitting idle. The problem? Fluctuating electricity in the hospital burned out the equipment.
The solution? A generator 238 miles away in the city of Lubumbashi. It could run equipment like the incubator. But at $18,000, this generator was nearly impossible for the community to attain on its own.
The North Texas team realized that partnering with North Katanga on the hospital upgrades would provide critical care for not only the 300,000 people living in Kamina, but to the network of villages across North Katanga that rely upon its services. This network is also supported by missionary pilot Gaston Ntambo, who flies critically ill patients to Lupandilo Hospital from villages across the region.
North Texas joined forces with the West Ohio Annual Conference, which has a decades-long relationship with North Katanga. Together, they raised the needed $18,000 to purchase the generator and arrange transportation from Lubumbashi and installation at Lupandilo Hospital.
Through this partnership, connecting countries and cultures, the challenge of inconsistent electricity was addressed within weeks. Being in mission together truly saves lives and strengthens the church’s witness across the world.
Partnerships are built upon relationships, and relationships take time and intentionality to foster. Several years ago, Muyombo studied at Perkins School of Theology in Dallas, Texas, where he met the Rev. Stan Copeland and members of Lovers Lane UMC. Copeland asked Muyombo to return earlier this year to speak on the topic of being in mission together. Other leaders from North Katanga joined him, speaking at Lovers Lane UMC and First UMC of Paris, Texas. Visiting Muyombo in the DRC was the next logical step in an already meaningful relationship.
Through its mandate to connect the church in mission, Global Ministries seeks to help build relationships for mutually beneficial partnerships like the one shared by North Katanga, North Texas, and West Ohio.
When we come together in mission, what other dreams can become reality?
George Howard is the director of connectional engagement for Global Ministries.