By Jessica Brodie
They met years ago, both pastors—one American, one Congolese, each fully committed to the ministry and mission of The United Methodist Church.
Today, the Rev. Joey McDonald is the Walterboro District Superintendent in South Carolina, while his friend, Bishop Mande Muyombo, now bears the title “bishop” and supervises three annual conferences in Africa.
Their friendship has spawned not only great love and laughter, but now a new roofing initiative in the North Katanga Episcopal Area in Democratic Republic of Congo. To date, the Walterboro District has raised more than $20,000 to roof roughly four churches in the Congo, and they’ve established a new project called the “Raise the Roof Campaign” in the hope other churches and people in the South Carolina Conference of the UMC will help.
A rainy season necessity
Just before Christmas, McDonald said, Muyombo called him and asked if he’d be willing to help fund the roofing of some churches in North Katanga. McDonald had visited the area and has a heart for African missions, so he put out a challenge to his clergy to see if anyone else would be willing to help.
That region of the continent has a severe rainy season, and one of the towns has ditches that can fill up to four feet deep with rainwater. While the temperatures can get hot in the summer and roofs appreciated, during the rainy season, a roofed building is a necessity.
But, McDonald said, it’s also a luxury. For while they have plenty of workers in North Katanga, they don’t have the material for a roof, and for most people, the expense is just too high.
“There, some of the churches have walls, because they can make their own brick, but they don’t have material to make a roof,” McDonald said. “While it’s just a metal roofing sheet, they can’t make them with the materials there, and it’s expensive to import them.”
‘God is at work’
Between Christmas and spring, the Walterboro District stepped up through church and individual donations and raised enough funds to roof four churches. They wired the funds, and Muyombo said the roofs are being installed now.
“For many months, members of some churches had to leave the church whenever it was raining and suspend worship,” Muyombo said. “Through this project, churches are roofed and members are getting back to worshipping their God and making disciples for Jesus Christ.”
Muyombo said his conference is incredibly grateful to McDonald and to the Waterboro District for their generous help with the new roofs.
“God is at work in connecting us with the Walterboro District and the South Carolina Annual Conference,” Muyombo said. “May His kingdom come!”
At one church, a group of women didn’t even wait for the roof installation to be finished before, moved by the Holy Spirit, they began to hold a worship service.
“It’s truly a God thing,” McDonald said.
McDonald said he appreciates the purity of the worship in Africa and feels blessed to be able to help.
“They are just such genuine people,” McDonald said. “In America we can get a little jaded by some things, but over there, their worship is not contingent on what they have. It just moves my heart.”
Churches can help the continuing campaign to “Raise the Roof” in the Congo by sending the contribution with the activity code 4694 or “Raise the Roof” as the description (online via Vanco). Individuals can go to https://www.umcsc.org/donate/ and select “Donate to Specific Missions & Ministries.” Pick “Raise the Roof” from the drop-down box. Or people can mail a check payable to the S.C. Conference of the UMC and include a note that it is for Raise the Roof.