Making a Different World

Almost 10 years ago, a small group of us traveled to Kamina, DRC, to see what United Methodists in Ohio could do to support the vision of United Methodists in Kamina. At that time, Kamina was overrun with orphans and many folks in transition due to the ongoing war in the northeastern part of the country and the AIDS epidemic. There were people who were poor in Kamina. But there were also people who were starving, in all the ways you can name.  Kamina was a "village" of about 300,000 at the time.

The vision was to respond to the desperation of the people in their midst. The bishop, Ntambo Nkulu Ntanda, was the bearer of the vision and through him, we learned what was to be done: build an orphanage, expand/improve the school, build a university, do most of the building yourselves, farm more land more efficiently, and train people to work in trades that come natural to them and their environment.  It was and is a powerful vision that doesn't make a difference in the world, it makes a different world!

So, we Ohio United Methodists made a formal covenant with the North Katanga (including Kamina) United Methodists to help make this vision a reality. And, we've been working on this vision ever since.  Ten years later, it is amazing to see the kind of world they've made and are continuing to make as the church there stays on the leading edge of holistic personal and communal development.

I have not traveled to Kamina since that first visit in January 2002, but there is one thing I have learned that has changed.  When we were there, all the orphan children gathered at meal time to receive a meal that was cooked on an open fire. The children were divided into two groups as they all pushed and huddled close to the serving line. In one group were those children who had eaten the day before. They would have to wait to eat until the next day. Only those who had not eaten the day before could eat that day. How struck we were by the ever present reality of trying to stave off starvation!

Now every child gets to eat at least once, if not more than once, every day!  That's a different world for so many, many of our Lord's least of these: folks like me and like the street orphans of Kamina. What a gift is life in the Lord Jesus!

-Contributed by E. Cary Simonton