Kinshasha, DR Congo – “Our God has contradicted mankind’s maneuvering. Praise our God,” says Pascal Kulungu, instructor at the Center for Peacebuilding, Leadership and Good Governance (CPLB), and member of Communauté des Églises de Frères Mennonites au Congo (CEFMC – Mennonite Brethren church in DR Congo).
In late 2016, leaders from the Mennonite national churches in DR Congo requested prayer from Mennonite World Conference because presidential elections had been postponed, exacerbating tensions between citizens and government. Some incidents of violence occurred before the intended election date, but destruction was less than had been anticipated.
“We were safe…because God talked to and through your prayers,” says Kulungu. “Here in Kinshasa, we Congolese can see, feel and tell your prayer’s result.”
In addition to praying, Congolese Mennonites have been working. The Center for Peacebuilding, Leadership and Good Governance (CPLB) organizes workshops on nonviolent behaviour from a Mennonite perspective.
Despite a police blockade on 19 November 2016, twenty-five attended a workshop for pastors’ wives.
“I am happy to be taught these knowledges on Anabaptist Mennonite identity and values,” said one attendee. With this training about nonviolent behaviour, “I will help many other ladies where we had many misunderstands between my colleagues and me.”
Another woman said that despite learning Mennonite values and identity from her pastor husband for more than 25 years, the workshops were “a discovery.” She hopes training on nonviolent behaviour can spread to many communities.
In December, there was a workshop for youth in Maluku, an area where violence among young people is very high. In January 2017, CEFMC pastors attended a workshop on servant leadership in Kinshasa, and Kulungu was invited to a one-week session of the electoral independent commission to train church leaders for the upcoming election. The date of elections is still uncertain. “Thank you for caring us in your hearts,” says Kulungu. “Please keep praying for us.”
Who is peace trainer Pascal Tshisola Kulungu?
Born in DR Congo in a family as the oldest of three boys, Pascal grew up from the Mennonite Brethren culture from family, elementary, high school.
In 1994, Pascal, already an established teacher, headmaster and hospital administrator, was sent to Fresno Pacific University for further studies. Earlier he had earned diplomas in teacher education Congo; now, he pursued a second undergraduate program in business administration, graduating with a bachelor’s degree in 1997, and then a master’s degree in organizational leadership with an emphasis in peacemaking and conflict studies in 1998. Upon his return to Congo, he took on the position of director of the health department of the MB Church of Congo (1998–2001), and the role of finance director and professor at the Christian University of Kinshasa (2001–2009), an institution of higher education in the capital co-sponsored by Congolese Mennonite and Baptist churches.
Pascal decided to build on his Fresno Pacific experience. In 2005, he established the Center for Peacebuilding, Leadership and Good Governance in Kinshasa, combining the dual emphases of his education in leadership and peacemaking linked with the significant need for good governance in Congo. In this role, he has trained hundreds of students, church pastors and leaders, and members of the civil society of Congo, and beyond. In preparation for the first free election in Congo since independence, he chaired the Urgent Peace Project committee of Mennonite Central Committee in 2006, which trained some 200,000 Congolese in the dynamics of elections and democracy. Pascal now continues as director, teacher and trainer of the Kinshasa Center for Peacebuilding.
His recent goal is to unify the Congolese Mennonite communities by teaching Mennonite values and nonviolent culture.
Pascal and his wife Therese Saki Kulungu have 4 boys and two girls.
—MWC Communications with files from Pascal Tshisola Kulungu