A Q&A with Benjamin Kisoni
As we carry out our vision of helping broken and vulnerable people find life in Christ, we’re excited to partner with Benjamin Kisoni who leads the International Christian Assembly (ICA) here in Johnson City. Read on to learn more about Benjamin and how God is working through him.
Tell us about your original home and background.
I come from the Democratic Republic of Congo in Africa, where I served as a pastor for seventeen years, after serving in the education system of my country. As a pastor, I was also engaged in writing Christian literature and served as a radio presenter of Christian programs. My wife and children are still in Africa.
What brought you to Johnson City, and to Grace Fellowship Church?
I came to Johnson City in 2009 after fleeing from my war-torn country, when gunmen wanted to kill me after they had killed my brother. When Grace Fellowship Church heard about my plight through my sister [Kavira Basolene], they sent me an invitation to leave my country for a while, hoping that I would be able to go back after the threats against me had cooled down. But when the same gunmen continued to target my wife and children after my departure, I decided to urgently relocate my family to another area and then I applied for asylum here in the USA.
What let you begin the ministry of ICA?
When I came to Johnson City, a Congolese friend invited me to a Bible study of African immigrants that had just started. I immediately noticed a deep need for solid biblical teaching for this group and felt the need to help them. Since then, I’ve been involved in helping African immigrants in the Tri-Cities to be spiritually grounded in the Word of God.
My background as a child of a pastor who was a missionary among different tribes and races for over three decades had prepared me to work and feel at home among people of different cultures, languages, origins and backgrounds. I love these African immigrants and I always ask for God’s grace to help me be a good example of integrity among them.
Where are some places you have seen God work through ICA and in your personal journey here?
Since the beginning of the ICA, we’ve been using an interactive method when studying God’s Word on Sunday. I’m always encouraged by the joy I see on ICA members’ faces when they’re interacting and learning new things in God’s Word. But they’re not only learners of God’s Word, there are visible signs of change in their lives. Their interpersonal relationships have improved, they do their best to live peacefully with each other, they’ve started making decisions based on biblical principles and are not shy to testify publicly about God’s work in their lives.
My journey has been difficult but the spiritual benefits have outweighed the hardships. I see God’s hand at work daily in my life and my trust in his Word and in the power of prayer has grown. I believe that in whatever situation I’m going through, God has purpose for which I pray that he will receive glory.
Where are you at in your asylum appeal case?
My request for asylum has had ups and downs that I find difficult to explain from a human’s reasoning; it’s beyond my understanding. But I’m confident because I’ve always wanted to do things in the right way, and abide by the law of the land. Last month, the judge denied my asylum request and I was given 30 days to appeal his decision. I’m grateful to Grace Fellowship Church for providing the needed finances to enable my lawyer to file the appeal, which was due October 10.
What gets you the most excited about the ministry of ICA?
I’m grateful to God for inspiring me and other friends to use an interactive method in the teaching of his Word at the ICA. It’s a unique way that has proved to be beneficial for ICA members. The ICA also offers a unique multicultural experience. Most of us are from Africa but Africa is not homogeneous – it has different subcultures. Being able to have a fellowship and worship experience with brothers and sisters from different countries is spiritually enriching. At the ICA, we see what God can do in answer to the prayers of his saints from different churches and walks of life for us.
What are current ways that people could support the work you are doing?
I’ve been inspired by the last series of teaching at GFC about Outsiders. The different conversations I have with ICA members is that sometimes they feel like outsiders in their neighborhoods. I believe that GFC members can make a difference in the lives of these immigrants by establishing friendship with them. This cannot happen automatically, but it’s possible for someone who’s willing to step out of his/her comfort zone, and lovingly reach out to these brothers and sisters in Christ from Africa! A first step may be to visit and connect with us in our Sunday services. We meet on Sundays from 2:00-3:30pm in the basement of Grandview Christian Church, 300 University Parkway in Johnson City.
Another way someone can support the work I’m doing is by contributing financially. GFC and some other friends have been doing this for years. Starting January 2020, GFC will have to reduce the financial support they have been providing my family and my ministry. But they are encouraging me to connect with GFC small groups and members, and see if some may want to help supplement the 61% needed for my monthly budget. You can contact me for the information on how to contribute through an approved channel to the ministry of ICA.
You can contact Benjamin by email, firstname.lastname@example.org or phone: 423-943-7719.
Learn more about GFC’s local and global partners at gfcnow.com/outreach