GFC member and DR Congo native Benjamin Kisoni has established an outreach to African immigrants in the Johnson City area. Many of you have followed the challenges with his immigrant case. While that has been drawn out, he has been serving faithfully and caring for the immigrant community. Below he shares a ministry update.
On August 27, the International Christian Assembly/Tri-Cities (ICA) will celebrate its first anniversary. This ministry to the African community started as a Bible study and prayer group on October 16, 2015. It was launched as a church on August 28, 2016 at Grandview Christian Church where we meet on Sundays at 2pm and on Fridays at 6pm.
Why ICA? The purpose was to have a fellowship where Christians from different nations, languages, cultures, and backgrounds living in the Tri-Cities would worship God and grow together. From the beginning we decided to keep things simple—which is not synonymous of superficial—and focus on the following three cores: a) To study God’s Word; b) To pray and trust God; and 3) To fellowship with one another.
After one year, how can we evaluate the spiritual work at ICA? I’ve been in ministry for over 25 years. It’s possible to evaluate members’ attendance, the number of baptized, church finances, etc., all these being important for the life of a church as a local body. But, when we reflect on Jesus’ statement about the greatest commandment—to love God wholeheartedly, and the second equally important being to love our neighbor as ourselves (Matthew 22:37-39)—we understand that relationship underpinned by love is the core of spiritual work.
My dad was a missionary in different tribes in the DR Congo for more than 35 years. As a young boy who used to accompany him for evangelism in villages, I remember the attitude of people he was reaching out to. Without patience, perseverance and trust in God, he could have given up. But after many years of faithful work and of building relationships based on selflessness, God blessed his ministry with hundreds of committed and faithful servants.
My personal life experience has taught me another spiritual reality. I grew up in a Christian family and after school I worked in a Christian environment. When I look back I understand that spiritual life is a process where God uses different factors—not always pleasant—to grow us when we let ourselves to be molded by his gracious hand.
What do these two examples have to do with ICA? The majority of the people I’m ministering to have some notions of God, Jesus Christ, the church, prayer, etc., but overall they are distorted notions. My responsibility is not only to teach them God’s Word but to live it out, too.
I am sometimes excited to see positive changes in members’ lives, but it’s not uncommon to see some of them return to their old ways without any feeling of remorse. Should this attitude discourage me? No, I always tell them that I’m not teaching God’s Word because I was born “an angel,” but a sinner rescued by Jesus. So, despite the ups and downs in their lives, I’m confident God is at work as long as I remain faithful to the mission he has given me.
In the meantime, we are progressively organizing the work. The church leadership team has recently appointed a coordinator for Women’s Ministry, and another for Children’s Ministry who is also the administrative secretary. Although some members’ work schedules do not allow them to attend different church activities regularly, we work with those God sends. But sometimes their absence depends on where their priority is. When they understand their need for God, he will become their life priority.
This ministry to the African community has been possible thanks to the support and encouragement from GFC. Thank you for praying for my family and me. The journey has not always been smooth, but by God’s grace we are pressing on.
Please join me in prayer that the African community in the Tri-Cities would “grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” (2Peter 3:18), and that my immigration case would be resolved positively and in reasonable time.
To learn more about Benjamin’s ministry, and ways you can follow, support, or serve in some way, you can visit him in the café this Sunday after the services at the partner spotlight table, or email him.
Posted on Thu, August 17, 2017
by Grace Outreach