What would you expect to be reality and reaction of a man and woman, perhaps with other children in the home, when the announcement is made of a new arrival coming soon to their family? The gift of new life brings enthusiasm and excitement all around. Perhaps it was planned for a long time, and perhaps not, but reality is a newborn is coming. Most leaders across our family here in middle America are inclined to lend a hand as needed. This is the situation presently as a new baby church is developing here in our Mid-America Friends family.
Through communications from a parent in Africa, a refugee family has recently arrived in Abilene, in west Texas, named Ekwenya and Veronica Mitaci, along with their six children. This communication was sent to all by Pastor Manaseh Kisopa, who is the Pastor of the Evangelical Friends Church in Congo at the Uvira Monthly Meeting, as well as the treasurer of the Great Lakes Theological Training School, in Africa. Veronica Mitachi is the daughter of Pastor Manaseh Kisopa.
In late 2016, this communication was circulated through various leaders of Evangelical Friends International. This letter was a plea from a father to Friends leaders in America to connect and to assist their family to adjust to a new culture, and to settle with a connection to the Friends family of God. Randy and Charlene Littlefield traveled to Abilene TX and through a connection in a Not-For-Profit Administrative office, were able to speak with an officer who knew of an Ali Mitachi, about whom we were told worked in a local hotel. As we entered the hotel, we were connected with the maintenance/repair manager, Ali Mitachi. We introduced ourselves, and found that he was the brother-in-law of the Ekwenya Mitachi family, and was also a refugee now living in Abilene for nearly 10 years. Ali Mitachi spoke excellent English and explained that his relatives had only recently arrived in the city. We explained the communication from Pastor Manaseh Kisopa, and his desire for his family to connect with the Friends Church. Ali understood completely, and with an exceptional Kingdom perspective, communicated that he felt that Ekwenya would be a great Friends Church planter. He then explained that Ekwenya had already obtained a job at a local restaurant. Since the family only spoke Swahili, he made a phone call for us and found that the entire family was at home at their apartment. So we were invited to come visit.
What a delightful experience we had as Ali introduced this family and translated from English and Swahili for a couple of hours. During that time we met the six children, from age seven to seventeen, including two girls and four boys, one of whom was named after his grandfather Manaseh. The mother, Veronica, was already busy in her kitchen preparing a native delicacy of fried bread, which they called “Versace”. She then served this delicacy to her children and guests around the kitchen table. I explained that we have the privilege to work with the leaders and churches of Mid America Friends to plant new churches across our region. They knew the process well from their experience with the Friends Church in the Congo, and communicated that they had been praying that God might use them to help plant a new Friends Church in this community. God has a way of working ahead of us through His Holy Spirit, and that work becomes very evident when we have the chance to pray together. As a result, through that single visit, we came away feeling sure of Jesus’ confirmation.
We are very early in the development process with this pastor, however are very excited, as is the father-in-law Pastor in the Congo, about this opportunity. Additionally, through consultation with EFM leadership, please pray with us that others across Mid-America churches might have connections of others in Abilene, TX, or the Swahili language, and/or, that you might just be the one to experience the burden to assist, even from afar, to pray and then possibly, to let me know who may be interested in serving with this effort. We are now forming our new Partner Church Advisory Team, with the leaders from Texas Friends Churches and any other church across Mid-America. We typically would meet with the local leadership at least monthly over some internet-based online tool, and use our standard Home Missions process we call our “Journey Toward Maturity”, to guide this exciting cross-cultural new church planting project.
We continue to trust in Jesus’ promise that “He will build His Church, and that the gates of hell should not prevail against it!” Simply contact me at email@example.com or 913.683.3831 or Janet at the Ministry Center office, if you would like to explore with us what our God is doing in Abilene TX. God bless!
– Randy Littlefield, Director of Multiplication Ministries