One evening, while in Kalonda, Congo, I strolled by the Kasai River and came upon an interesting bamboo structure. While I looked it over, pastor Kalaba Nkunda came out of the house nearby.
Me: "What is this?"
Pastor Nkunda: "It's a church that my son, Mukenge, built. Every morning at 6 o'clock, before he goes to school, he comes out to his church to lead songs and preach. I don't understand it, but he loves to do this."
Me: "Who does he preach to?"
PN: "To everyone who listens. Now and then, other kids join him. But he never misses a day. He's been doing this for months."
Just then, a small statured 8-year-old boy came out of the house.
Me: "Is this your church?"
Mukenge: (with confidence): "It is."
Me: "Do you mind if I take a photo of you in your church?"
Mukenge quickly and proudly took his place at the podium. I expressed my appreciation for his ministry and went on my way. Bercy Mundedi, director of the Kalonda Bible Institute, lives a couple of houses away from Pastor Nkunda's family. The next day, I asked Mundedi whether she ever hears Mukenge leading songs and preaching in the morning.
"Without fail, but you have to rise early to catch him at it!" Bercy said.
Mukenge in worship, through this video recorded by Bercy Mundedi.
On the morning of our departure from Kalonda, Mukenge greeted me and invited me to his church. Unfortunately, we were about to leave, but I quickly took a picture and promised to send him a copy.
Since my return to the United States, my mind — and my heart — often return to Mukenge and his palm-and-bamboo church that faces the grand Kasai River. Perhaps he will join our network of young leaders who are seeking to transform his village and his country someday.
But Mukenge isn't waiting around for that. He's already heard the call. He's exercising his gift. While his church building is small, he's already inviting the world in. His small congregation is the body of Christ, a body of love being given on behalf of the world.
Mukenge invites us all to make a difference for God where we are. Our efforts to share what we have been given for the good of others is what this Christ-filled life is all about.