When is the last time you danced in church? Never had the chance? Come visit Augustin Tshibangu and the Evangelical Church of Jesus Christ (ECJC) a new mission church in partnerhsip with LINC Houston reaching out to people of Central Africa, specifically refugees and immigrants from the Congo Basin. For them, dancing is an essential part of their worship life.
For several years Tshibangu and his church have bounced from home-to-home and building-to-building looking for a permanent place to settle and reach the city of Houston. Now, in partnership with LINC, and because of the generosity of Pilgrim Lutheran, the ECJC is settled in the southwest part of town and seeking to connect with refugees, immigrants and permanent residents from Central Africa living in Houston.
When they come, visitors are met with jubilant worship and energetic praise. The service is characterized by upbeat songs and dance all lead by call-and-response, drums, bongos and dance leaders. Silvan, a young energetic worship leader, frequently punctuates the celebration with shouts of "Hallelujah!" to which the congregation responds "Amen!" or "God is great!"
Unfortunately, the service is also interrupted with people coming in late or having to leave early due to lack of transportation.
"We are blessed to have a church home here at Pilgrim," said Tshibangu, "but our people do not have cars, so they have to take public transportation, find a ride or walk to church. That means they are frequently late, have to leave early or do not come at all."
Tshibangu and other leaders hope that they can solve the transportation issue, do more outreach and minister to the community with a church van. He asked LINC supporters to be generous and help them procure one.
"We desperately need a van for our ministry" Tshibangu said.
The church is about 70 people strong and growing, but their vision to reach out with the hope and peace of the message of Jesus and seek reconciliation among the people of Central Africa living in Houston. Procuring a van is part of that, but for now the church is happy to have a home at Pilgrim and a new partner in LINC Houston.
"We are overjoyed to have a partner like LINC Houston. They have generously provided new connections, training and even a pulpit for our worship service!"
For its part, LINC is excited to see Tshibangu and the ECJC do its ministry and pleased to see a pulpit go to good use, proclaiming the redemptive message of the cross!