GBADO-LITE, DR CONGO (January 20, 2011) – More than 2,000 pastors and their spouses have gathered for the biennial pastors conference of the Covenant Church of Congo (CEUM) that began last Sunday and runs through this coming Sunday. The main sessions are being held at the Gbado-Lite church.
Most participants traveled by bicycle, motorcycle, or on foot, says Evangelical Covenant Church missionary Pete Ekstrand. The people living farthest from the conference traveled 300 miles over several days using motorcycles and bicycles. A few traveled by plane or other vehicles, although few are able to traverse the country’s almost unusable roads.
“The conference is important in the lives of the pastors because it offers encouragement and an opportunity for spiritual renewal,” says Ekstrand.
Some of that encouragement has come from Anthony Mejia of Peninsula Covenant Church and that congregation’s pastor, Gary Gaddini. The church has a long-standing relationship with the Congo church.
Gaddini (top photo) is leading morning devotionals. Speaking from Jonah throughout the week, he told the gathering, “The sad part in the Jonah story is that he did not have anyone in his life to stop him from doing the wrong things. I am the pastor I am today because of the people surrounding me in my life. Do you have someone like that in your life?”
Two sessions are open to everyone following the morning devotionals. Topics include community health evangelism, the government’s plans for development, and conflict resolution within the church. Afternoon breakout sessions include discussions of poverty, HIV/AIDS and malaria, and women’s ministries in the church.
On his blog, Ekstrand joked about the trials and joys of being a translator for Reuben Ezemadu (lower photo), who is from Nigeria, the head of the Nigerian Evangelical Missions Association and the coordinator for the Movement of African National Initiatives.
“It was a workout because he is also an evangelist, and once he got going, he was not going to slow down!” Ekstrand said. “I had a couple of people comment that they had never seen me so animated, even saying that ‘Peter was becoming an African today.’ Guess I was a bit out of character.”