“Myers Park Presbyterians are passionate about global mission,” says Frank Dimmock, catalyst addressing the root causes of global poverty for Presbyterian World Mission. “They are committed to improving health care and education in the Congo, especially education for girls.”
The connection between Myers Park Presbyterian Church in Charlotte, North Carolina, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo began in 1931 through the church’s support of a missionary in the town of Lubondai. This connection continues today in partnership with Presbyterian World Mission.
Since 1996 Myers Park Presbyterian has invested more than $1 million in ministry in the Congo. The congregation has supported Good Shepherd Hospital, a 160-bed facility in the village of Tshikaji. It also has built six schools in collaboration with the Congolese Presbyterian Church: one in Lubondai, two in Tshitalala, two in Tshikaji and a girls’ school, Dipa Dia Nzambi, which opened in Kananga in 2013. Myers Park provides scholarships for the neediest of students and annual funds to assist in purchasing supplies.
“Dipa Dia Nzambi means ‘gift of God,’ says Fay Grasty, chair of the Myers Park Presbyterian Church Congo ministry team. “The school has 255 students and 10 teachers in primary grades in the morning and another 148 students and 12 teachers in secondary grades in the afternoon, reminding us of what partnership in God’s mission can do.”
Dimmock traveled with seven members of the Congo ministry team from Myers Park to visit Dipa Dia Nzambi girls’ school in May 2015.
“Frank was invaluable in interpreting ‘things Congolese’ as well as ‘things PC(USA),’” Grasty says. “And Gwenda Fletcher, Presbyterian World Mission co-worker, is our ‘boots on the ground.’ When we were interviewing teachers, Gwenda translated all of the teachers’ applications before the interviews. We couldn’t have built the girls’ school without Gwenda.”
“Myers Park’s goal is to make a long term, sustainable difference to enable Congolese communities to be self-sufficient,” says Fletcher Wright, former chair of the Myers Park Presbyterian Church Mission Council. “The spirit-led devotion and commitment of Presbyterian World Mission has been inspirational and has deepened the faith of those of us involved. It has served to attract additional disciples who see the impact on those participating.”
Millie Cox, former director of international studies at Charlotte Country Day School, and Courtney Pender, elementary school teacher in the Charlotte-Mecklenburg School System, observed in classrooms at Dipa Dia Nzambi and held workshops for teachers.
“We were both impressed with the quality of teaching,” Cox says. “We felt the school was well managed and the principal has established a supportive working environment.” She says the students are receiving a high-quality education.
The conditions for learning at Dipa Dia Nzambi are an improvement over many schools in the Congo, thanks to the partnership of Myers Park and the Congolese Presbyterian Church.
This article is reprinted from Mission Crossroads, a publication of Presbyterian World Mission, winter 2015. To subscribe and receive three issue of the magazine each year at no cost, visit pcusa.org/missioncrossroads.