In 2013, my wife and I, along with members of our congregation, traveled to the Congo. We were invited by the Rev. Daniel Mulunda, pastor of the New Methodist Church, to take part in the dedication of their new house of worship. It was a wonderful experience. We had the opportunity to share in a time of fellowship, with the good people of the Congo. I preached that significant service, with an interpreter who followed my every word. We have shared a wonderful relationship with Pastor Mulunda for more than seven years. He has been to Bethlehem to preach, along with members of his family.
We are sad to report that this great man of God has been detained by military intelligence agents in the Congo, for preaching the gospel of peace. He preaches the gospel of Jesus Christ, without wavering or watering down the word of truth. He preaches about social justice and the quality of life for all God’s people. Pastor Mulunda is no stranger to peace work. He has been preaching and working for peace and conflict resolution across Africa, for over 30 years, working with various NGOs and renowned agents of peace, like the Archbishop Desmond Tutu and others. In 2001, he founded the Ecumenical Program for Peace and Reconciliation, which has worked to disarm armed combatants in the Kivu and former Katanga provinces. In 2011, he was appointed as chairperson of the National Independent Electoral Commission, overseeing the organization and execution of the second set of general elections since the Congo’s independence in 1960.
We have been blessed as a congregation to have his son, the Rev. Devis Mulunda, who I licensed and ordained, to be an integral part of our ministerial staff. I know firsthand, the love this family has for one another. I also know how this strong man of God has stood tall, proclaiming the word of God.
In January, he was arrested by military intelligence agents, who came into his home, shattered glass windows, and physically attacked one of the family members, in the presence of Pastor Mulunda’s loving wife. They took Pastor to jail with no specific charges but were motivated by his preaching for peace, accusing him of being a tribal separatist. For days, he was confined to his cell without legal representation, without specified charges, and was being threatened to be transported to the capital, by night.
As a result of his son’s deep commitment to his father and mother, we organized a prayer vigil. We received calls from as far as London, praying for his release. Pastor Mulunda sent us a message in which he remained calm and confident in his trust of the Lord. He did not get angry nor seek revenge. He simply put his faith and trust in God. As I listened to him, I marveled at his inner strength, his inner peace. I was reminded of the words that Paul spoke to Timothy, in his charge to him. He told Timothy, his son in the ministry, “You should keep a clear mind in every situation. Don’t be afraid of suffering for the Lord. Work at telling others the Good News, and fully carry out the ministry God has given you.” (2 Tim 4:5 NLT) Here in prison, Paul remains strong, remains calm, and that is exactly what Pastor Mulunda has done.
For three consecutive days, Pastor Mulunda sat in hearings, each 8 to 10 hours, without the chance to speak for himself. Never seeing the inside of a traditional courtroom, he was sentenced without a trial. His faith in God was strong and he was courageous, amid suffering and pain. I could not help but think about democracy in our country. Under the previous administration, we were on the edge of losing democracy and the freedom to speak about injustice. Perhaps, we still do not realize how close we came to the loss of freedom.
We can never put a muzzle on the men and women of God who proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ, who speak out against racism, classism, sexism, etc. These servants are willing to risk their lives for those that have been mistreated, all their lives. I am also reminded of a powerful message of the Rev. Alyn E. Waller, preached at the Martin Luther King, Jr service, in January. He spoke boldly against those who were willing to remain silent in the face of injustice. He said he wanted to hear white evangelicals, white preachers, speak out about injustice.
Thank God for men and women of God who are not ashamed to stand up for what is right. I marvel at the faith, not only of the Rev. Daniel Mulunda, but also his son and daughters, who carry out the heart of their father by remaining strong in the Lord. Our prayers are with this strong family and I pray that we might be people of strong faith. Not a little faith, not a weak faith, but a strong faith in the Lord, in these crucial times. In the words of MLK, “Darkness cannot drive out darkness. Only light can do that.” May we be the light of world and declare that “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” Whatever the fate of Rev. Mulunda, we know that his trust in the Lord is real and that he can say like Paul: I have fought the good fight… I have kept the faith.
Peace and love